Right into it: three markets are relevant for PaperC and they are moving quickly. Reason enough for some research, maybe interesting for others, too:
1. the eBook-market (in the B2B field for libraries, schools, publishers and companies; in the B2C field we find user/readers/costumers)
2. subscription based payment models
3. Collaboration platforms (either educational or not, content-driven and/or focused on study tools)
A lot of scratching going on
There is a huge threshold to be crossed when entering the digital market because unprecedented use cases appear around every corner. In Europe, an electric wire still embraces the gated community of content providers, but over seas, some enthralling forms of alternate housing come up: OverDrive for example, a former B2B platform with about 800,000 titles for the use in libraries, schools, companies or by retailers only, soon will come up with an html5 reader to switch to B2C. Overdrive has all it takes, to become a big player in the European market: a lot of experience while everyone over here still thinks, a pdf is an eBook, a perfectly well working business model with a huge audience and precedented expansions. Looking at all this, we must be happy they do not speak German and get something rolling to top their great offer: Imagine the combination of a customized platform with all that wonderful content and our working features – I like the idea. 24symbols are just entering the market with a lot of tempting announcements and we’re excited about how they’re going to introduce their API, their synch for the offline use of ebooks and social reading features.
DIY vs. 3rd party involvement
One approach of selling digital content is to build a platform your own if you think, the cost of shared revenues will (one day not too far from now) outrun the implementation costs: Wiley Online Library with 10,000 titles of science, technology and medicine plus 4 million articles from over 1,500 journals is running for quite some time and if they’re doing it right, the graph should (put simple) look like this:
I just added up the “costs” of a third party who claims like, let’s set 30% of every purchase multiplied with the estimated growth rate of the eBook business of Publisher X: see blue line. The green line shows huge implementation costs subtracted the revenue (multiplied with growth rate and cleaned out marketing costs, handling, support and all the other unfancy things you need to deal with when rowing the boat yourself). Wiley is still offering PDF and they also sell their eBooks through amazon kindle edition, various German booksellers and PaperC – assuming that the side effects of reach outgun the side effects of “handle them all”. Added Value: WOL offers chapters so you may get a suitable portion of the buffet. We go for Wiley
SpringerLink with 110,000 titles and their own app for iOS and e.g Thieme eBook Library follow two different approaches, both very successful: while Springer provides a huge number of books, articles and protocols, Thieme has a comparatively small number of books (600+), but at the same time all the essential titles for medicine students and close subjects.
When we come to B2C, or eBook stores there are three very big players and several (in contrast to them) smaller ones. First there is Google Play with 4, 000, 000 titles. Secondly there is Amazon with 1, 250, 000 titles having their own html5 reader, their own format, their own platform and their own rules: most publishers depend on them with an average of 60% revenues from that one distributer. Amazon allows highlighting, (and showing the most often highlighted parts) bookmarking, making notes and an offline sync. And there is KOBO with 2, 300,000 titles (80, 000 German titles) having their own readers, their own html5 reader and apps for iOS, android and Blackberry – the American tech.startup dream come true which only naturally led to Rakuten’s investment /takeover last year. Rakuten is amount the 10 biggest internet companies in the world and shall in this place not be compared with our German competitors in the ebook-reseller and/or distributer market: stores with like 200,000 and 450,000 titles: Libri, Ciando, Hugendubel, Weltbild, Thalia, Libreka, a still tiny ebook-market of like two percent of the bookmarked and distractive rights in every single corner of the pool.
Why buy when you can lend and borrow?
Now we have a small look at other subscription models. For once there is Safaribooks, which is a joint venture of O´ Reilly/ Pearson. They have 21,000 IT, media and professional development titles plus a lot of help for understanding: 1,600 videos and short (1,050)/ rough (103) cuts. You can make bookmarks, notes with tags, highlights, ratings, review titles a.s.o.a.f., you may jump to related content across several books, download exercise files, print out pages, and you have a customized RSS. They have a web-app and offer (awesome!) limited offline-reading. 10 books per month will cost you 22,99 Euro, for unlimited use you pay 34,99 Euro. Safaribooks is by our so-far-plans very similar to PaperC regarding their content and possibilities, still we want more: a branch wide 300k textbook platform. So suddenly there are other subscription models that are necessary to look at like 24symbols, which is only offering fiction eBooks. They have a html5 web app and a proper highlighting, note taking, bookmarks and sharing options. Either you have the freemium version (where you have ads) or you can choose the premium subscription (from 5-9 Euro) which is ad-free and including an offline-sync. With Skoobe, daughter of Bertelsmann/Holtzbrinck, fiction and advisory came to the German subscription market – by now may only choose between 4,000 eBooks but they’re growing. Until they only have an iOS app, and less than 10k users the flat costed 9,99 Euro. In the future you can only get two eBooks/ per month for that.
We love to see the surroundings shape - simfy/spotify, where you can choose a flatrate without ad for 4,99 Euro or even offline and on your mobile for only five more, flat rates for movie renting as for example Maxdome or Amazon prime and lovefilm.de have made a great start, let’s see how publishers will do - maybe not only just because they have too!
But now let´s have a look at a perfect example for educational collaboration/social platforms: Researchgate, a social networking site for scientists, with 1,5 million users offering filesharing, forums a job search and you can have virtual conferences. On the other hand there are quite a lot of non-educational platforms: Like Readmill or Goodreads. Readmill is a social community for eBook readers (of fiction) and it gives you space for highlighting, sharing notes and recommendations. Goodreads is more of a social cataloging website with over 9 million users and the essential idea is that you get recommendations from your friends thereby find new books you would like to read.
There is so much into these digital services like pre-published eBooks, helping the author by giving him feedback before the book is being published; self-publishing might be a big trend; or the sorting of eBooks in user-created lists; enhanced eBooks; merging of offline and online: while your print book is being shipped you already get the access to the eBook. The possibility to sync your content with other apps or platforms is the most logical next step.
We are thrilled about the future. The ebook is about to revolutionize the way we learn. EPub 3 will bring a huge variety of enhanced ebooks with audio and video content. We as the PaperC Team are working hard to create a platform for the next generation of eBooks which makes working easier and more fun!