• 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)


Online stores (selling copies)

As an initial approach, it is important to recognize that within Russia there are a significant number of websites dedicated to the sale of books, in both paper and electronic format.

Founded in 1998 in Saint Petersburg, the company Ozon began by selling paper books – just like Amazon. It now covers a wide selection of products ranging from hardware and music to beauty products and jewellery.[1] Its users – 4.2 million of them registered by August 2010 – can choose between 14 shipping methods and 18 forms of payment: cash, card, electronic money – such as Yandex and WebMoney – and deposits through the network of Qiwi terminals. Ozon has recently branched out into selling electronic books and downloadable audio-books; the prices of these items are set by the publisher (or author) and generally vary between 1 and 5 dollars. The most common e-book formats are: ePub, PDF, DJV, RTF, DOC and FB2.[2] On the opening day of the 23rd Moscow Book Fair, the store presented its own reading device, the Ozon Galaxy, in partnership with the telecommunications operator MTS.[3] This e-reader has a 6-inch touch screen with electronic ink display, comes with 3G connectivity and costs 270 dollars.

Another general store is Biblion. Born in 1999, this platform sells books, e-books, audio-books, toys, software and music. Its backlist of physical books shows great diversity, although for the moment the range of e-books it offers is fairly meagre.

In addition to these e-commerce portals there are numerous purely digital stores – companies that only sell content in electronic format. Below we will present a few noteworthy examples.

Salebook – an initiative launched by the publishing house Ravnovesiy – was inaugurated in February 2005. Its electronic publications can be read on computers thanks to software developed by the company itself. Ravnovesiy has been in the multimedia book market for 14 years and since its beginnings as a publisher of law books on CD, it has accumulated hundreds of titles, divided into around 20 collections.

EposBook – which belongs to the multimedia group AGM – has presented itself since 2009 as an electronic bookstore that pays particular attention to the user’s experience. It covers a vast range of genres – from books on religion to love stories – and the prices of its e-books rarely exceed 3 dollars; there are even publications that sell for just a few cents, such as this short story by Sergey Gerasimov. The portal has developed its own book reading application for the iPhone.[4]

If Ozon usually calls itself the “Russian Amazon”, since 2008 iMobilco has sought to position itself as the local iTunes: it sells music, films and books, with a backlist of almost 20,000 titles provided by the main Russian publishing companies, in digital format alone. It recently launched its e-reader iChitalka, which comes with a 6-inch touch screen with electronic ink display and Wi-Fi.[5] At the same time, it offers its own application for downloading texts on the iPhone and iPad.[6]

The portal Elkniga, for its part, belongs to the publishing group AST – one of the most powerful in Russia – and sells e-books, audio-books and digital magazines. When it comes to payment, the client can choose options – like SMS – that don’t require registration or credit cards.

Inaugurated in 2009 on the initiative of the conglomerate Softline, the platform Bookee offers its users the possibility of buying e-books and organizing them into a virtual library that can be synchronized on a variety of devices. Softline’s extensive commercial network – present in nearly 20 developing countries, from Venezuela and Colombia to Vietnam and Egypt – may lead to the expansion of Bookee to other linguistic territories.

Lastly, the e-bookstore BestKniga – owned by the group DDC, which we will present in greater detail shortly – began its activities in April 2010 and has set itself the medium-term goal of offering a backlist of over 30,000 titles, in FB2 and PDF format. It works with dozens of publishers, including AST, Eksmo[7] and AdMarginem.

  1. Nevertheless, physical books continue to represent its core business. In 2009, that sector accounted for 38% of sales (3,741,693 copies). Cf. , Ozon.ru.
  2. FB2 constitutes an open format, based on XML. It was originally developed in Russia.
  3. Cf. , Pro-Books.ru – Book Business Online, 6th July, 2010.
  4. Cf. “EPOS Books”, iTunes Preview.
  5. Cf. , .
  6. Cf., iTunes Preview.
  7. A conglomerate that controls 15% of Russian book production. Cf. , , 21st June, 2009.

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