Ever since the release of Apple’s iPad, the only device making a significant impact in the tablet market, many have speculated about the possibilities for the the future of the publishing industry. Back in June we mentioned the early success seen by magazines and newspapers like Wired and the Financial Times, and more recently, the Flipboard app has iPad users drooling. With these trends in mind, a new study released today by Next Issue Media predicts that $3 billion will be spent on electronic publication subscriptions by 2014.

Next Issue Media is a consortium of digital publishers consisting of Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp. and Time, Inc. The study, which surveyed 1,800 U.S. customers, also found that while electronic subscriptions will rise, traditional print subscriptions – like newspapers and magazines – will suffer from “cannibalization”. With that, it estimates a net gain of roughly $1.3 billion in revenue to publishers over the next three years.

According to the study, customers are 9% more likely to renew a subscription if an interactive edition is available, and 30% of those renewing chose a bundled option with print and digital editions. Additionally, uptake among “device-owning non-subscribers” tripled from 5% to 15% with the presence of interactive editions in online stores.

This data shows that the digital publishing industry is indeed growing and attracting new subscribers from traditional print media. Many view digital editions to be supplementary to the print versions, and advertisers are keen on the ability of users to buy items directly from ads in digital publications, the study finds.

In terms of demographics, the study showed largely equal growth in interest for digital subscriptions among both men and women, as well as across all age groups. This just goes to show that, yes, readers do indeed want interactivity with their subscriptions and are enjoying the added functionality.

“The landscape for digitally distributing magazines and newspapers is about to rapidly change,” said Martin Kon of Oliver Wyman, who helped Next Issue Media conduct the survey. “Our Future Marketplace Simulation shows significant consumer enthusiasm for interactive periodicals that offer enhanced features, personalization, multimedia content and optimized layout and navigation.”

In other words, if you build it (better), they will come. This seems obvious but digital publications are still only growing at a slow pace. This will be bolstered by the wave of tablet devices likely to hit the market in the wake of the iPad. Android and webOS tablet devices continue to be rumored alongside the possibility of a “BlackPad” from RIM – all which could make for an interesting market for publishers.