• Table of contents

    • [+]Preliminaries (3)
    • [+]Introduction (4)
    • [+]Latin America (13)
    • [+]Sub-Saharan Africa (9)
    • [—]Arab World (11)
    • [+]Russia (11)
    • [+]India (11)
    • [+]China (9)
    • [+]Conclusions (6)
    • [+]Appendix (1)

Arab World

A first approach: virtual stores

The first thing we find in the Arab world are some important online stores selling printed copies. One noteworthy example is NWF (Neelwafurat), whose very name reflects its intention to emulate Amazon, for just as the famous US brand alludes to the South American river, Neelwafurat refers to the Nile and the Euphrates. NWF was founded in 1998, in Beirut, and so far has not ventured into the e-book business.

Other platforms have entered into this terrain. One of the first players to do so was the portal Arabic eBook, presented in 2002 as a new business unit of the IT service company Integrated Digital Systems, based in Beirut. As can be read on its portal, its books cost between 5 and 20 dollars, and are downloadable in PDF format, protected by Adobe DRM. Arabic eBook’s backlist contains over 7,500 titles.

Also within this group of commercial platforms, one undertaking that has achieved international significance is Kotobarabia. This Egyptian company, founded in 2005, aims to position itself as the main distributor of electronic books in Arabic and has almost 10,000 titles spread over more than 30 categories. From the beginning Kotobarabia’s explicit mission has been to “build an Alexandrian library that can’t burn down”.[1]

Kotobarabia’s earnings come partly from individual sales (B2C model) but above all from library subscriptions, particularly from abroad (B2B model). An IP recognition system makes it possible to identify the client’s provenance, which will determine the sale price of the e-books, since this varies depending on the country. To avoid any attempt at censorship, Kotobarabia’s servers are located in the Unites States, although up to now they have not had to face any significant problems with Arab governments. Like Arabic eBook, Kotobarabia began distributing files exclusively in PDF, but then developed its own DRM and is already working on an ePub version.

  1. Cf. “About Us”, KotobArabia e-Library.

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