The digital ebook market in Russia is growing according to the Russian Association of Online Publishers. The ebook market has almost doubled over the course of 2012 with $8 million in sales. This is a dramatic increase from the $4.1 million generated in 2011. However, ebooks still represent just 1% of the total Russian book market, which is on par with the digital publishing net worth in Vietnam.
Vladimir Kharitonov, the executive director of the Russian Association of Online Publishers, recently said, “The total number of e-readers in Russia is estimated $20 million.” Many industry insiders agree that their footprint will significantly increase over the next several years. Most Russian digital readers tend to live in Moscow and St. Petersburg, while the number of people reading ebooks in the Russian provinces remains fairly insignificant. It is very fair to say that the majority of people buying electronic readers and ebooks live in major urban centers.
iMobilco is currently one of the most notable digital bookstores in Russia and currently has 20% of the market. The largest entity is LitRes, which is the most dominant and controls 60% of the market. Sergei Anuriev, the general director of LitRes, believes that by 2015 the entire ebook segment will increase to 5%, which will be equivalent of $90 million in sales.
One of the main reasons digital sales are so paltry is because of piracy. Eksmo, Russia’s largest publishing house, recently commented that 95% of all ebooks are pirate copies. This results in close to $120 million in losses for the entire digital publishing industry. It is currently estimated that between 100,000-110,000 titles are available as pirated editions, compared to just 60,000 available legally.
The publishers in Russia are fighting back against piracy and encouraging people to buy legitimate books via new marketing campaigns. It seems to be working as the government and publishers in the last two years have invalidated more than 25,000 links to pirated ebooks and over 100 sites have been shut down.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.