While Amazon, Kobo, Apple, and Google are fighting it out in Europe and South America there’s been a quiet little ebook revolution going on in Southeast Asia. (“Quiet” only because this is the first solid info I have received.)
The first annual ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) eBook Conference wrapped up earlier this week. Over 200 people were present at this conference in Kuala Lumpur, including attendees from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Australia, and Vietnam. Much verbiage was shared on the current state of the the ebook industries, including some statistics which had never been published in English before.
In Vietnam, for example, Alezaa.com reports having signed 70% of Vietnamese publishers. Most of their ebooks are priced between $2 and $3, and reportedly are priced about 30% of the price of paper books. Alezaa.com has 50 thousand active users (out of a population of 87 million), and they allow their users to download a single title onto five devices. Alezaa.com also provides AlezaaBuild, a fuss-free PDF-to-ePUB conversion tool. “Vietnamese publishers do not know—and do not want to know—about ePUB conversion since they focus strictly on publishing, distributing and selling,” said CEO Phuong Tran “So we step in to provide the necessary e-book services.”
Thailand’s ebook market is estimated to be worth around $6.67 million last year, or about 1% of the paper book market. But with a population of 69 million and 8 million smartphones and tablets sold each year, that is expected to change. “However, ebooks would not sell, or sell well, without stable and reliable distribution. It is also worth noting that if a title does not sell well through brick-and-mortar outlet, then it is going to perform even worse as an ebook. So publishers should convert their bestsellers into e-books, and do not fear cannibalization of p-book sales,” said business development director Polapat Udomphol. Thailand’s own one-tablet-per-child program should also have a positive effect on the ebook market.
Less was shared about other ebook markets. The size of the Singapore ebook market was not mentioned, but this country of 5 million spends an estimated $41 million a year buying books from overseas.
image by Bryan_T