Print to digital, digital first, simultaneous publishing – What’s your strategy?

The move to a digital content world has been a rapid one. The amount of digital information created and shared globally—from documents to pictures to texts to tweets—increased from 1.8 zettabytes in 2011 to 4 zettabytes in 2013, an increase of 112%, and is expected to reach 6.6 zettabytes in 2020. To give you an idea of the scale of our growing digital output, 1 zettabyte equals 1 trillion gigabytes. It’s almost unfathomable.

In addition to the uptick in the sheer amount of digital information in the world, powerful user interfaces for content consumption are becoming ubiquitous.

Content consumption is increasingly a screen-based endeavor. 90% of all media interactions are through smartphones, laptops/PCs, tablets, and television. Smartphone users will total 1.75 billion in 2014, according to estimates by eMarketer. Meanwhile, the average person spends 4.4 hours of their leisure time per day in front of screens.

Publishers are now in the midst of massive change, responding to the information inundation and multi-platform consumption habits the above statistics indicate. Where once publishers were accustomed to delivering content through a single, simple, static medium, they now must publish in immersive, interactive, and adaptive forms. It’s not just the arrival of the ebook, but a whole ecosystem of digital delivery mechanisms that have disrupted a long-established way of doing business.

This is not news per se for most publishers. Many digital platforms are already profitable and publishers expect this growth to continue. Both consumer and education publishing show the ebook market expanding and print contracting. It’s predicted that for the U.S. trade book industry ebook sales will surpass printed books sales as soon as 2017. And many of the larger publishers are already demonstrating a significant shift from print to digital revenues. In the education industry, the overall market for ebooks is growing and the proportions of units sold in print textbooks, digital textbooks and whole-course solutions (combination print and digital) are shifting tremendously.