By Dennis Abrams
TechCrunch reports that Amazon is getting ready to expand its international reach into Russia.
Russia is among Europe’s largest internet markets, with an online audience of 61.3 million. A rapidly growing middle class, has led to an explosion of e-commerce and a large window of opportunity for Amazon, which will take on Russian ebooksellers LitRes, Imobilco, Ozon — which offers some 15,000 titles, as well as Google Play, among others.
As of mid-2012, some 60,000 ebook titles were available in Russia, though not through all digital channels.
An article in Forbes (in Russian), said that the company had opened its first office in the country, headed by Arkady Vitrouk, the former general director of ABC-Atticus, a publishing group owned by media baron Alexander Mamut.
The article cites “unnamed sources,” for its report, while noting that neither the office opening nor the appointment has been officially confirmed by Amazon itself. TechCrunch, however, found that Vitrouk’s LinkedIn profile does indeed confirm him as director of Kindle Content for Amazon in Russia.
Further investigation by TechCrunch found that Amazon is hiring for at least three other positions in Russia specifically for its Kindle business: a senior product manager for Kindle content pricing, a principal for content acquisition for Kindle Russia, as well as another content acquisition manager.
The Forbes article also notes that Amazon has applied for several technology patents in Russia, patents covering storage and delivery of goods, storage of electronic texts and media files, and book publishing. This would seem to indicate that Amazon will not only be selling devices and e-books in Russia, but also plans to launch its self-publishing program, Kindle Direct Publishing.
For an overview of the Russian publishing market, see our related article “Russian Publishing 101: What You Need to Know.”