Behind the Scenes at O’Reilly Media’s Digital Books – Questions answered by Andrew Savikas, Vice-President, Digital Initiatives

MyMac Interview by John Nemerovski and Roger Born

MyMac: How difficult is it to prepare all aspects of your digital editions?

O’REILLY: Most of our books are produced using an XML-based production process and toolchain. While it wasn’t easy or cheap to build that out, now that it’s in place we are able to use a single source to generate print, PDF, EPUB, Mobipocket, iPhone, and Android editions of the books.

MyMac: What is the price differential compared to conventional print books?

O’REILLY: For ebooks sold directly from, most are priced at 80% of the price of the print book. We are paying close attention to prices on various ebook devices and stores, and are doing some experimentation of our own to try and measure the price elasticity of demand for digital books.

MyMac: How successful have you been at informing, educating, and expanding your readership?

O’REILLY: Digital books outsell print books more than 2:1 on our website. So pretty good, it would seem.

MyMac: Where do iPhone/iTouch, Kindle, BlackBerry, and other small format devices fit into your evolving technology?

O’REILLY: Mobile devices are absolutely the most important digital channel for us right now. There are 40M iPhones around the world, and some estimates are that there will be at least as many Android devices within a year. That’s one or two orders of magnitude more smartphones than ebook devices, so it’s simply going to be a bigger market.

MyMac: Which titles are most popular, and which ones don’t have any traction?

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