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The success of Amazon.com’s Kindle e-reader and online e-bookstore has spawned a paid e-publishing content marketplace that has grown rapidly in the past two years and shows no sign of slowing. Competition from other device-makers such as Apple promises to further stimulate what is already one of the most dynamic areas of the digital content ecosystem. Sales of e-books have grown steadily since the format first appeared in the early 2000s. The Association of American Publishers (AAP) estimated that US net sales to its 85 member publishers totaled $169.5 million in 2009, up 176.5% from the 2008 figure of $61.3 million. In fact, revenue for 2009 was the highest ever, and the percentage gain was the greatest since e-books started producing a profit.
“Currently, most e-book volume comes from Amazon.com’s Kindle sales,” said Paul Verna, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, “Paid E-Publishing Content: Books, Newspapers and Magazines.” “But it is unlikely that Amazon.com will be able to hold on to such a dominant market as e-book pricing becomes more competitive and more complicated.” In newspaper and magazine publishing, opportunities are less tangible than for books, and monetization models are in flux. Several publishers are looking to experiment with paid models after ad-supported efforts have fallen short. Existing paid plans included metered access, freemiums, 100% subscription sites and even donations in one case.
But many studies show that Web users are reluctant to pony up for news content. “Consumers will resist paying for content,” Mr. Verna said, “especially in cases where they feel they can find the same information elsewhere online for free.”
The eMarketer Daily
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