How to Establish Robust Trade in Emerging Ebook Markets

In Guest Contributors by Guest Contributor

For an ebook distributor to succeed in a developing market they need to adapt to methodologies, in particular payment mechanisms, already prevalent in that market.

Editorial by Wesley Lynch, Snapplify


Emerging ebook markets are commonly referred to as “the digital south” — and often require a new view if a company wants to succeed.

The rapid penetration of the internet and the subsequent high adoption rate of mobile in South America have resulted in e-commerce becoming a fast-growing industry particularly in Brazil. This has piqued the interest of many foreign market players — particularly those in the publishing sector. However, upon entering these markets, publishers are not always aware of the many challenges they will have to navigate in order to make a successful entry.

Many publishers will try to employ models for e-book distribution and sales that work in the US and UK, but these will not necessarily work in emerging economies like Africa or South America. The reason this is that the US and UK markets are unique; nowhere else is there a market with over 300 million people that speak the same language, use the same currency, and use the same payment mechanisms. Also, these markets are dominated by large multinationals like Amazon that have immense influence on how the publishing industry and consumers behave within the marketplace.

This is why emerging economies, like South America, are looking to startups and businesses with experience in economies like their own – like South Africa for example – to bring e-book solutions that will best suit their economy and infrastructure.

Therefore publishers need to look for an emerging market skilled supplier that can fulfill three things if they want to succeed in maturing markets like Argentina and Brazil – they need to provide an e-reading solution (whether it is a device or an application for common mobile devices), a digital store, and a payment mechanism that is already prevalent in that market.

eReading Solution

Publishers need to be wary of using providers like iBooks or Amazon only; this narrows your market to specific devices like the Kindle and Apple products, which would be fine if you were in a developed market that had a proliferation of those devices. Catering to all or even just Android operating systems opens up your market to more users. Choosing an e-reading solution should include catering to that particular market’s unique challenges, such as poor internet infrastructure, high cost of bandwidth, shared device environments, and such.

Digital Store

The South American market is maturing and ripe for foreign investment; in 2013, Brazil’s e-commerce market grew 28%, reaching US$12.2 billion in sales. The opportunities for cross-border e-book sales are enormous; English-language e-books are in demand across Latin America, particularly among expats who have until now had little or no real access; not only that, the textbook market is not even close to saturation.

“The Brazilian e-book Market grew exponentially in 2013, after the launch of several international e-bookstores, such as Amazon, Apple, Google and Kobo. Over 2.5 million e-books were sold in Brazil last year. This however was just the first step. And in order to grow faster, the Brazilian digital market has to address its bottlenecks, and digital distribution is a key one. The truth is that Brazil still lacks global and efficient digital aggregators to provided content to retailers and consumers. In this sense, Snapplify’s interest in the South American market is very welcome, especially considering it offers more flexible solutions better tailored to the reality of emerging market” says Carlo Carrenho, Brazilian Publishing Consultant and Founder of PublishNews.

Payment Mechanism

Many emerging markets are not as credit-card savvy as the US or UK, some consumers may have credit cards but cannot use them on international sites. Don’t limit your consumers’ payment options; if you can, set up local online stores reflecting local currency.

An example of this kind of all encompassing solution exists today in Africa and is currently being introduced into universities and educational centers in Brazil. Snapplify is a platform for distribution, reading, and digital sales that offers an eReader app for Android and iOS, as well as online eBook stores that can display the currency of the publisher or retailers’ choice.


About the Author

Guest Contributor

Guest contributors to Publishing Perspectives have diverse backgrounds in publishing, media and technology. They live across the globe and bring unique, first-hand experience to their writing.