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Russia’s Ebook Market Nearly Doubles in 2012, But Still Plagued by Piracy

Ebook Info Graphic Russia

70% of Russia’s readers read ebooks, says a recent study by RBTH, with 50% turning to ebooks in the last three years and 23% in the last year alone.

By Eugene Gerden

Despite the recent decline in reading in Russia and the stagnation of the local book market, interest in ebooks continues to grow, as demonstrated by the Knigabayt Ebook Expo recently held in Moscow. A recent infographic released by RBTH, indicates that 70% of Russia’s readers read ebooks, with 50% turning to ebooks in the last three years and 23% in the last year alone.

According to the Russian Association of Online Publishers, the Russian ebook market nearly doubled in 2012, reaching 250 million rubles (USD $8 million), up from 135 million rubles (USD 4.1 million) in 2011. In fact, the ebook market has been growing rapidly since at least, 2008, however ebooks still represent just 1% of the total Russian book market.

According to Vladimir Kharitonov, the executive director of the Russian Association of Online Publishers, currently total number of ebook readers in Russia is estimated at 20-22 million people and is expected to significantly increase over the next several years. Most of Russian ebook readers live in Moscow and St. Petersburg, while the number of people reading ebooks in the Russian provinces remains insignificant.

Among the major players in the market are iMobilco, with 20% marketshare, and LitRes, which is dominant and controls 60% of the market. Sergei Anuriev, General Director of LitRes, believes that somewhere between the years 2015 and 2017 the share of the e-book segment in the Russian book market may reach 5%, which will be equivalent to RUB 3 billion (USD $90 million).

Russian ebooks are priced significantly lower than in Western countries. Mikhail Osin, head of digital sales for OZON company, one of the leading Russian booksellers, in contrast to Western countries, where the cost of a typical ebook is estimated at USD$10-15, the equivalent title in Russia sells for about USD$3.

Lack of Content Leads to Piracy

Russian Campaign Against Reading Pirated BooksUnfortunately, piracy remains a serious problem. According to representatives of Eksmo, Russia’s largest publishing house, up to 95%% of all downloads of ebooks are pirate copies, something at results in the annual losses to the industry of 4 billion rubles (USD$120 million).

Work is being done to stifle the drain due to pirates and is being spearheaded by Rospechat, the state agency that regulates mass media. Last year the agency launched a media campaign to encourage readers to buy legal ebooks and is now regularly monitoring websites guilty of offering pirated books. As a result, over the last two years more than 25,000 links to pirated e-books have been removed from the Internet.

According to Andrei Yurchenko, a senior analyst at Pro-books magazine, one of Russia’s leading publishing trade magazines, pirated sites remains popular in Russia resulting from the lack of any real competition from companies that distribute legal content: it is estimated that between 100,000-110,000 titles are available in pirated editions, compared to just 60,000 available legally.

“The current situation with pirated content in the Russian e-book market could be explained by the lack of legal alternatives in terms of service, product range and prices,” says Yurchenko. “Once such alternatives will be available, it should go a long way toward solving the problem.”

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  1. Alexey
    Posted July 1, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Well, piracy here in Russia is due to the fact that there are large communities scanning the books and sharing them in huge databases online. And they do it for free, without any significant profit, just for idea that knowledge should be available to everyone.
    Personally I’m not sure that digital content should be copyrighted at all unless it contains secret or private data. You can’t claim you have been robbed if you haven’t lost anything. After all when it’s about common books, if you’ve written one just for money, it isn’t worth reading anyway. Respected writers tend to share their ideas first of all.
    I know that it can hardly get along with ideals of private property but in my book is’t not a big deal.

  2. Vikarti Anatra
    Posted July 2, 2013 at 2:54 am | Permalink

    There are several issues with e-books in Russia:
    – only litres (and some sites under their agent license) offers legitimate books.
    – it become a common strategy to issue electronic version in 2 weeks(or sometimes 2 months) after print one (reasoning:”pirates just buy from litres and put it on pirate libraries”) (traditionally, DRM is almost never used. even such simple DRM as Amazon’s. so it’s just ‘download file’->’upload file’)
    – pirate libraries offers MUCH more (as in “80-90% more” books, numbers in article on this are…biased, according to other sources)
    – almost all e-readers sold in Russia are basically ‘connect to you computer and USB and put fb2/epub books on device’. No Kindle Store-style experience where you can buy on device, online integrations like Amazon has,etc. Litres tries to change this with Litres Touch (e-Ink reader, WiFi, store on device) and numerous LitRes applications so you have integrated bookshelf.
    – Kindle (devices) is not officially available in Russia. Officially you can’t just order them in Russi. Kindle Store books in Russian are forbidden. So is KDP. (Litres SAYS they have semi-equivalent of KDP but it does not appear it really works for some reason).

  3. Posted July 3, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Affraid, author incorrect uses data about propagation of e-reading in the Russian province. There is vice versa: the most of Russian ebook readers live NOT in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and read e-books via PC.

  4. Posted July 12, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Piracy is not only acting in Russia but all over the world , the technology should be updated for DRM so that possibility of pirating a book should be impossible and its a good move that 25000 links are removed , and ANTI PIRACY campaigns should be more , however ebooks market are highly growing so i am sure this technology will have a solution for it. Since we are a ebook conversion service provider itself (www.Q-hammtrix.com ) will try hard & hard to stop piracy and help publishers and authors.

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