The Vietnamese publishing industry has its work cut out for itself when it comes to digital publishing. A new report has surfaced that electronic books only account for 1% of the entire publishing sector.
The main barriers preventing adoption is retail visibility for e-readers, piracy, and barriers of copyright. When it comes to the retail sphere, there are no e-readers around. In all the local electronics stores, they’re ridiculously hard to find. Merchants don’t think customers want e-readers and customers aren’t buying them. There is only one single store in all of Vietnam that sells e-readers, Phuong Nam Cultural Joint Stock Corporation in Saigon. Most people have to order them on EBAY or travel abroad.
Often, when you buy an e-reader in a retail environment in Vietnam and its capital Hanoi, you will get a gift. Retailers often give a DVD with thousands of pirated ebooks that are dug up from forums and other file sharing websites to give people something to instantly read. The majority of people purchasing these often opt for the gift, knowing that these books might not be legal. Publishers are beginning to petition the government to declare a war on piracy to make the digital shift worth it.
Publishers in Vietnam are at a crossroads, they need to shift to digital but are showing disdain for how prevalent piracy really is. “If we don’t publish ebooks, our publications still would appear on a lot of websites and forms, from which people can download the publications free of charge, even though with lower quality than the printing versions. But if we publish ebooks, they would be unlocked just 15 minutes after the publishing moments, at with the same high quality,” said Nguyen Xuan Minh from Nha Nam Publication Company.
With the rampant piracy, low worker income, and the unavailability of e-readers to buy, it is no wonder why ebooks only account for 1% of all published works.