Buy-Anywhere Options, Not Devices, Will Be Key to Digital Publishing Success

Oyster Bay, New York - 04 Feb 2011

Buy-anywhere electronic versions of books, magazines and newspapers will drive the digital publishing market, according to ABI Research’s new study of Digital Publishing for Portable Devices, which foresees digital content sales growing to nearly $16.5 billion worldwide in 2016, more than five times their 2010 level.

Despite the enormous media focus on iPads, Kindles, Nooks and other eReaders, the market for digital content will not be tied to the success or failure of any single one of these devices, according to the new study. “Consumers can purchase digital texts through their PCs or smartphones, in addition to buying directly through their eReaders,” explains Larry Fisher, research director of NextGen, ABI Research’s emerging technologies research incubator. “The variety of applications that allow people to buy this digital content reassures them that they won’t be tied to a single store—or device—for content.”

Significant barriers to the growth of digital publishing remain, however, including licensing of back catalog material, the conversion of publishing workflows designed specifically for digital instead of print content, and most importantly for periodicals, pricing. Paying for single issues of magazines and newspapers on the iPad in particular has met with resistance from subscribers accustomed to bargain-priced subscriptions rather than one-off sales. Still, says Fisher, “One-off sales won’t keep publishers from selling content to other device users, and Apple will likely offer some form of subscription service eventually.”

Digital text sales will get an extra boost in 2012 as some of these challenges are met and high-quality color eInk readers become widely available. Although such readers are currently on the market, they do not offer the full saturation color that print magazine readers have come to expect. Magazine and newspaper readership will still be greater on LCD-screen readers and tablet computers that can handle video and other graphics requiring a fast refresh rate.

ABI Research’s “Digital Publishing for Portable Devices” examines the market opportunity and technical trends relevant to digital texts (including e-books, magazines and newspapers) and eReaders, providing a granular segmented five-year forecast for revenue, units sold and units in use, as well as profiles of the key market players.

It is part of ABI Research’s Human-Machine Technology Research Service.

ABI Research provides in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies. From offices in North America, Europe and Asia, ABI Research’s worldwide team of experts advises thousands of decision makers through 29 research and advisory services. Est. 1990. For more information visit, or call +1.516.624.2500.

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