University of Iowa Press sees increase in E-book sales


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Authors want electronic publishing, and the University of Iowa Press is following with the trend.

UI Press Director Jim McCoy said the press has approximately 800 books in print, with around 75 percent of those books digitized. Around 5 percent of total book sales is from e-books, he said, whereas two years ago, the sales from e-books were practically nothing.

"I would say that's a substantial jump," he said.

The press currently offers or publishes an electronic version of almost every book it has, because it is expected in the marketplace, McCoy said.

"We distribute almost to anyone who's in the e-book game: Barnes&Noble.com, Sony, Google, various vendors," he said. "Creative-writing books, some short fiction and poetry, and creative nonfiction are definitely our most popular sellers, on Kindle and other e-book formats."

While the e-book market is still largely dominated by Amazon, he said, the UI Press makes quite a few sales through academic research libraries.

"University presses are peer-reviewed academic presses," he said. "Anything we publish will serve the greater good of academia. [We have] some poetry and fiction, but it has to fit in with our publishing program."

The University of Chicago Press, the largest university press in the United States, publishes 250 print books per year, with about 80 percent of its new books also published in electronic formats.

Krista Coulson, digital publishing manager at University of Chicago Press, said almost all of its books are published in both print and electronic versions. E-book sales could make up about 8 percent of sales this year, she said, compared to 5 percent last year and just under 2 percent a few years ago.

"We've seen a lot of growth, just like Iowa has," she said. "We are working on getting as many old books into e-book format as we can."

E-book publishers outside universities have had success, too. California-based Smashwords, an e-book publishing and distribution platform for self-publishers, has published more than 100,000 e-books.

 Smashwords' first press release in 2008 announced that e-books represented less than 1 percent of the U.S. book market in 2008. These sales have rocketed to 30 percent as of Feb. 14, according to another company press release.

According to its website, publishing digitally can allow authors and publishers to expand potential readership and benefit as a long-term investment in their writing careers. They also advise authors to self-publish and print at the same time.

Coulson said the University of Chicago Press also sees e-book sales cover when some print sales decrease.

 "One of the things we hear in publishing, in e-books, is that when people buy e-readers, they are also buying more [e-]books," she said. "I don't know if it's the immediate gratification or something else, but it's great to hear that people are excited to read."

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