Multi-channel distribution generates revenue for eBooks and digital content

More customers equal more revenue, right? But how publishers find those customers is, of course, the challenge. Ultimately, reaching out through as many channels as possible allows publishers to access the widest variety of customers possible.

Multi-channel distribution, something OverDrive has supported for years, allows publishers and content owners to maximise their potential for a sale. Their materials may be easily accessed by customers through online retail stores, phones and eBook readers, public libraries, and school libraries, plus college and corporate libraries, too. Nontraditional booksellers and retailers are even thinking up promotions in partnership with clothing and electronic retailers. This expansive network creates the maximum opportunity for earning profit.

If a publisher chooses to distribute its materials only via online booksellers, it is excluding readers who own other mobile devices, shop at other retailers and borrow from libraries. These readers, often having had a taste of a book or author from a library setting, tend to purchase books from other outlets. In 2010, 718 million book and title catalog pages were viewed via OverDrive “virtual branch” library pages, but only 15 million digital titles were checked out, meaning that readers are viewing information about books through their libraries before making purchases elsewhere. But libraries are just a start. Adding titles to retail catalogs, eBook stores on devices, schools, and any other outlet can help promote your title and ultimately lead to a sale in the future. Furthermore, it is now clear that multi-channel online stores are actually helping brick-and-mortar stores, which is why it is so important to make the two sales channels complementary.

Libraries are not the only market often ignored when publishers sell their titles through one channel. Consumer trends are pointing toward an increasing amount of spending on tablets, which now can download eBooks from booksellers and libraries alike. In fact, in its latest Technology, Media & Telecommunications Predictions report, Deloitte predicts that in 2011 more than 50 percent of computing devices sold globally will not be PCs. It expects sales of smartphones and tablet computers will come to 425 million, well above sales of 390 million PCs. OverDrive, understanding this trend, has created apps for the iPad and Android, and will release apps for other tablets in the near future.

Ultimately, allowing customers to decide when and how they read, borrow, and purchase their eBooks will lead to a successful and profitable eBook publishing model.