Andrew Savikas from technical book publisher O'reilly reports that revenue from e-book sales are expected to be up 200% over last year ("Yes the iPad is sexy, but global sales are the real ebook growth news", 7 May 2010). He says some of this is at the cost of sales of printed books, but while the ebooks sell at a lower price, they are more profitable, due to lower production costs. Only 46% of the eBooks O'Reilly sells are in the USA, followed by the UK (12%), Germany (5%), and Japan, Australia and Canada (all at 4%). He says that international sales of technical books in English to people where this is their second language is an unappreciated area of book sales. Adding up O'Reilly's figures, 66% are to English speaking countries. What I find most interesting is the 20% "other" category where the purchaser's country is unidentified: how much is from India and China? He argues that eBooks are popular because they are reasonably priced and easy to get and this will expand the availability of information. What is interesting in this is that the device used to read the ebook is not relevant: it could be a Kindle, an iPad. But he argues that the most popular device is a conventional personal computer.
As Richard Charkin, Executive Director of Bloomsbury Publishing, pointed out in his talk at the National Library of Australia, academic publishing has been very profitable for hundreds of years. There is a natural synergy between the ebook and the unviersity, as shown by ANU teaching its new researchers how to produce ebooks with"New ways of publishing your research" at the ANU on 12 May.