By Iona Teixeira Stevens
There was much discussion about the “coincidental, simultaneous” launch of several international ebooksellers in Brazil this past December 5th, when Kobo, Google and Amazon opened the virtual doors to their ebookstores on the same day. This happened just seven weeks after Apple started selling Brazilian ebooks via its American iBookstore. The foreign powerhouses were taking on established indigenous Brazilian retailers, such as Saraiva, and digital distributor Xeriph.
Long before this “D-Day” (as in Digital), the thought of Amazon, in particular, entering the Brazilian market sent shudders across the Brazilian publishing industry. So the Brazilian publishers made preparations: seven of the largest publishers banded together to create Distribuidora de Livros Digitais (DLD).
DLD is a digital book distribution consortium that includes Objetiva (partially owned by Santillana), Record, Sextante, Rocco, Planeta, L&PM and Novo Conceito. The consortium is similar in structure to Spain’s Libranda. DLD officially launched in April 2011.
Between January and September 2012 — we’ll call this the “pre-digital” era — sales through DLD averaged just 4,638 ebooks per month. The launch of Apple’s iBookstore in October 2012 tripled ebook sales, which reached just shy of 16,000 units in November 2012.
And post D-Day? It looks like the DLD gamble has paid off. According to research by PublishNews Brazil’s Carlo Carrenho presented last week at the Digital Minds Conference during the London Book Fair, sales through DLD — which is believed to account for about 30% of ebook market in Brazil — more than doubled, reaching 39,210 ebooks in December.
Sales throughout 2013 have continued to grow and according to its latest figures, DLD ebook sales hit 44,490 in March 2013 — and did so with a selection of just 2,300 titles on offer through the consortium.
As DLD represents some 30% of digital market today, we can extrapolate that total ebook sales were approximately 150,000 units in March 2013.
Of the biggest retailers, Apple’s share of DLD was 28.5% in March — the largest by a considerable margin. Amazon followed with 22%, Google 17.5%, Saraiva 15% and Kobo/Cultura with 11.8%.
Of course, one must remember that prior to the launch of major retailers, ebook sales were tiny. And even after the arrival of the international giants in the months and leading up to the all important holiday shopping season, the digital market share in Brazil accounted for just 0.47% of total book sales in 2012. The forecast for 2013 is somewhat better, coming in at 2.63%.