Publishing: How eBooks are Produced and Distributed

We happily answer questions from Elsevier authors and editors regarding eBooks and have put together this quick reference guide to help you better understand what it takes to produce and distribute books electronically around the world. We hope this summary is helpful and as always, we encourage you to contact your Elsevier Editor directly with any questions about eBooks!

Production of Print vs. Electronic Books

Production of your eBook starts with you – By following the author guidelines supplied by your Editorial Project Manager, you help our production department better understand what your book should look and feel like in all formats, whether print or electronic.

The myth surrounding production cost – While you may think it’s less expensive to produce and distribute an eBook, that’s not necessarily the case, as printing costs are very low compared to pre-press costs such as copyediting, proofreading, typesetting, and indexing.

  1. Electronic file conversion, distribution, and hosting are not fully automatic and also require investment of time and financial resources.

Preparing your manuscript for electronic distribution – This stage begins as soon as you submit your final manuscript files.

  1. Copyeditors don’t just copyedit; they also tag your manuscript using HTML to prepare it for conversion to various electronic file formats.
  2. We work with our vendors to ensure your manuscript gets the appropriate type of conversion, guaranteeing that all eBook platforms can display the book to optimize the reader experience.

Types of eBook Formats

Because various platforms, devices, and eBook distribution partners require different file formats, Elsevier produces a variety of file formats to distribute to our partners and customers.

These file formats include:

– ePub (Google, Apple, Safari, Kobo)
– mobi (Amazon Kindle)
– XML (Credo, R2)
– PDF (ScienceDirect, Knovel)

Global Distribution on a Variety of Platforms

Elsevier works with approximately 70 eBook distributors, including our own platforms like ScienceDirect and Knovel, to get your book into the hands of readers around the world.

We are constantly expanding our eBook offerings to deliver relevant, high-value content to customers wherever they might be looking for solutions to their problems. There are new platforms and eBook providers coming online every year as the industry grows and consolidates. We pilot new platforms regularly, and are always exploring new opportunities.

The table below provides a quick snapshot of some of the platforms where Elsevier eBooks are available. Not all books are appropriate for all customers, so we’ve categorized the top platforms we work with by the type of customers they serve (institutional and consumer). There are many eBook platforms that we work with which are not listed below, including local distributors in distinct geographies around the world.

* Elsevier-owned

Discoverability Initiatives for eBooks

In addition to supplying eBooks to a growing number of partners, Elsevier works hard to optimize the discoverability of all of our books on these platforms. For more information on how and why this is so important, click here.

 When are eBooks Available to Customers?

– eBooks are usually available within a week of print publication.

– Different platforms have different ingestion schedules and specifications. Even though we notify platforms before each eBook publishes as well as distribute eBooks as soon as they publish, they may not be available instantaneously as each platform operates differently.

– Not all of our partner platforms will take your eBook. Some are more selective than others to meet the needs of their particular customers. We cannot control who accepts our eBooks, however we do advise our platform partners when a book’s audience overlaps with their customer base.

DRM – Digital Rights Management

Digital rights management (DRM) are technologies that are used with the intent to control the use of digital content and devices after sale. A digital watermark is a kind of marker covertly embedded in audio or image data, typically used to identify ownership of copyrighted material.

Some of our platform partners use DRM, while others use digital watermarks. After careful analysis and a successful pilot, we shifted eBook sales on our own direct sales ecommerce site,, from DRM to digital watermarking, unlocking user-centric services which now make reading eBooks easy, flexible and open:


What about piracy?

A conversation about eBooks would not be complete without addressing piracy concerns, a challenge that the publishing industry has been dealing with since long before the computer enabled fast and easy illegal distribution of copyrighted works.

– Elsevier is committed to ensuring that piracy of our products is minimized and does not negatively impact sales.
– We partner with other publishers, Google, and Attributor Guardian, a piracy detection platform that discovers and validates pirated content on cyberlockers, peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, and other offending sites.
– Digital watermarking enables us to track piracy back to the original purchaser and source.
– We carefully monitor piracy and actively issue take-down notices to offenders daily.
– As an Elsevier author, you are encouraged to report piracy!

  1. Please alert your editor as soon as you see any indication of piracy. Members of all publishing teams have access to a link within our legal department to issue ad hoc removal requests. While Attributor Guardianis always running, there could be a short window where your title is not

We hope you’ve found this eBooks overview helpful and would love to talk to you about eBooks anytime! Contact your Elsevier editor if you have any questions or would like to contribute feedback.

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