Russia boasts of a rich literary culture, but is also besotted with digital piracy of an unprecedented scale; that translates to substantially less cash inflow to the national exchequer every year. eBook piracy in the country is among the highest in the world, and a Russian company has likely come with a solution:an ebook reading service, Bookmate, that offers ebook subscription at very nominal rates.
The brain child of Dream Industries, Bookmate offers its subscribers open access to its entire library of no less than 225,000 books for a mere $5 per month. No doubt such a pricing strategy will draw a parallel with Netflix, that started the trend with unlimited movie downloads for $9.99 per month. The ebooks are in both Russian and English languages and can be reached via an app that is compatible with various platforms.
The founder of Dream Industries, Simon Dunlop, believes Bookmate is just not a reading service like any other. “Today, reading competes with many new services for a person’s time: social networks, messaging, Twitter, online games,” he says. “Bookmate … puts books wherever you are online, creating a ‘reading layer’ across all your online activity.”
Understanding that it’s a virtual social environment that we live in, Bookmate also includes social functions that will let readers share quotes or collaborate in other ways, like enabling friends to see what titles you are reading.
“When people have the chance to read many books in a shared and social environment, their reading behavior changes,” said Dunlop. “Our readers read many more books simultaneously and share experiences with one another.”
Plans are also afoot to increase the scope of Bookmate to branch out to more markets worldwide. Among its immediate plans include tying up with publishers in the US and UK while adding more English language titles to their collection. Bookmate also stated they wish to tap into those countries that have a substantial English speaking population.
“Across six countries — Russia, Turkey, Nigeria, Pakistan, India and the Philippines — there are more native English speakers than in the U.S., UK and Canada combined, but at the moment we don’t believe those readers are being served through traditional sales channels,” says James Appell, head of global development at Bookmate.
These are also the countries where ebook piracy is fairly rampant, though the trend could change once Bookmate with its affordable pricing structure enters the scene. This will ensure a steady revenue stream for not only Bookmate but also the publishers since readers who either didn’t read at all owing to the high costs involved or read pirated books will be tempted to try Bookmate reading services.