Daniel Berkowitz, Senior Editor, Digital Book World
Data Conversion Laboratory, Inc. (DCL), which converts content into digital formats, and Bowker, the official U.S. provider of ISBNs, released the results of their 2016 Digital Publishing Survey. One of the primary takeaways is the worry over quality and consistency when content moves from print to digital.
This year’s survey is the third joint effort between DCL and Bowker, attracting 698 participants, up from 579 in 2015 and 215 in 2014.
The survey asks digital publishers and self-published authors questions ranging from the various digital formats publishers use to the quality of ebooks.
As with 2015’s survey, a topic that continued to generate interest was quality, with more than 56 percent of respondents saying it was a major concern. Other concerns were “retaining formatting” (55 percent) and “errors caused by automated conversion” (46 percent).
It’s not surprising, then, that digital publishers are increasingly including some level of quality assurance to ensure error-free content. According to the survey, nearly 45 percent hire editors (up from last year), 33 percent perform self-checks (slightly down from last year), and 18 percent perform QA prior to conversion (down from last year).
“It makes sense that quality is a topic of note,” said Mark Gross, president of DCL. “Unlike the early days, digital technology is mainstream, and the survey shows that consumers expect to hold ebooks to the same high standards that they expect from print books. That means publishers need to be diligent to ensure content is converted accurately. Accuracy and quality is key to our work.”
Beat Barblan, director of identifier services at Bowker, echoed that sentiment.
“The reality is that poorly converted digital books are flatly rejected by readers,” said Barblan. “Readers are no longer willing to accept and struggle through a poorly converted book. If a book is not perfect, they will not read it and will demand a refund. Nobody can afford that.”
Another key finding from the survey was the number of publishers that have published digitally. This figure continues to rise, up this year to 73.21 percent from 72.88 percent in 2015. On the other hand, in 2016 the number of self-published authors dropped from 45 percent to 42 percent.