By Carlo Carrenho
In March 2010, six Brazilian publishers –- Objetiva (partially owned by Santillana), Record, Sextante, Rocco, Planeta and L&PM — teamed up to launch an e-book distribution company called Distribuidora de Livros Digitais (DLD). The business model has several similarities with that of Libranda, in Spain –- though it’s a distinctly Brazilian enterprise. The company officially launched in August under the leadership of CEO Roberto Vaz Moreira. Since then the team has been working hard, albeit discretely, to launch the platform.
Still, it’s not uncommon in Brazilian publishing circles to hear the suggestion that DLD is little more than a good idea, one that is likely to remain vaporware…
In this exclusive interview, originally published in Portuguese at PublishNews, Roberto Feith, CEO of Objetiva and DLD’s chairman, openly reveals the actual plans, expectations and launch schedule of the new e-book distributor.
Please note that, at present, Brazil lags some three or four years behind the US in terms of digital development. Currently Xeriph is the only function e-book aggregator in Brazil, and Singular Digital is finding its way to becoming digital distribution hub for publishers. DLD, when it launches, will probably compete with both companies.
PublishNews Brazil: When will DLD launch its operation?
Roberto Feith: DLD has just concluded its software customization and is finishing its operational tests with online Brazilian bookstores Saraiva and Cultura. It will start to operate with both these partners by [today] April 4th. Besides, we have signed deals with another two online retailers. These two other projects, developed by national business groups, will be launched in June. We are also talking with other potential partners in Brazil as well as abroad.
PNB: How many e-books is DLD going to offer at launch?
RF: We will start with 350 titles, most of them bestsellers. The partnering publishers are committed to the continuous growth of the catalog. It is going to grow on a weekly basis. The goal is to have 1,500 titles by the end of the year.
PNB: Will DLD use DRM (Digital Rights Management)?
RF: Yes. We want to protect authors, readers and publishers.
PNB: How is DLD structured? How many staff?
RF: DLD intends to use integrated advanced technology so the publishers will be able to upload their e-books and metadata themselves. Publishers will also be able to access all sales information online. The online retailers will also be allowed to do so. This way, most of the operation will be done by our customers. The platform’s software is linked to the management system, so invoicing and reports will also be automated. This model allows us to have a small team, of four people, to run the business. Accounting and legal support will be outsourced. And we also have hired some consultants and will hire more in the future, when needed.
PNB: What are the skills publishers should have to work with digital books?
RF: The publishing skills needed for e-books are the same needed for other formats: knowledge, vision and creativity. Those abilities are important whether you publish p-books, audiobooks microfilmed books or books in any other format.
PNB: What are the main challenges for DLD?
RF: The main challenge for us has been to understand all the ongoing transformations, whether they are technological, consumer-behavior related or simply affecting the book production chain. We have all been reflecting on these changes and trying to ascertain their implications in order to create an efficient strategic plan. DLD is one of the results of this though process.
PNB: How does DLD see the e-book market in five years time in Brazil?
RF: It is hard to forecast with accuracy. There are many variables and some of them haven’t even showed up. But, despite that, we have developed our business plan for DLD using the available information. This plan forecasts that, by 2015, the sales of e-readers will reach 1 million devices per year, over 8 million e-books will be sold on a yearly basis, and digital sales will represent 7% of the Brazilian book market. If these forecasts are proven to be wrong, it will be because we are being too conservative.