Sell globally, publish locally. As the eBook market develops and matures, observers are noting patterns that repeat themselves from country to country. Infrastructure is critical, of course. As access to the Internet grows, online distribution channels and reading platforms follow closely behind. And yet location still matters. From tax policies to legislated pricing levels to legacy habits in buying and reading books, no two countries are exactly alike.
“On the one hand, we do have certain patterns that seem to apply to very diverse markets. It is always the strongest readers, those who really are the best book buyers, who are adopting eBooks first, usually because they are traveling. They want to have a good read in their pocket and they don’t want to carry around too much weight,” explains Rüdiger Wischenbart who has recently published an update to his highly-regarded Global eBook Report and is director for international affairs for BookExpo America, where he coordinates BEA’s global market forum.
“Then there are some exceptions, like France,” the Vienna-based founder of Content & Consulting tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “For some reasons, France is lagging behind or very hesitant at adopting eBooks. The Global eBook Report tries to understand what drives these similarities and what drives the differences.”
Sales of Spanish-language e-books offers contrasting lessons in adversity and opportunity, too. The coincidence of the rise in e-books and the crash of the Spanish economy has meant considerable pain for publishers in Spain. “In the last three years, Spain has lost €700 million (US$975 million) in sales on physical books. Unfortunately, the digital side of the story has not grown fast enough to compensate the loss of revenue on the physical paper,” notes Javier Celaya, CEO and founder of Dosdoce Digital Culture, based in Bilbao.
Yet in Spanish-language dominated Latin America, Celaya sees the potential for fortune-making – by American publishers. “Your market is saturated in many of the areas. The only way you can grow is going international. The easiest way, I think, is to go to Latin America—translate that content that already has proven to be of commercial interest. Sell it direct, or sell it through different retailers to the Latin American market. You will have a new line of business, complementary to your traditional line of business in English.”