eBooks Rise in Russia, But Piracy Reigns

Russian reading may be in decline but e-books are quickly gaining traction

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Electronic book reader standing on stack of books

Tolstoy. Pushkin. Solzhenitsyn. With five Nobel Prize laureates in literature and a rich history of famed authors, Russia has long been a publishing powerhouse. But that hasn’t helped it escape a worldwide publishing crisis marked by a precipitous decline in annual book sales. To help stem the tide, last month the government announced plans to pool more than $100 million to prop up the nation’s $2 billion book market until 2018, as part of a broader initiative to boost funding for the arts.

Amidst the crisis, ebooks have emerged as a bright spot. According to the Russian Association of Online Publishers, ebook sales almost doubled in 2012 to $8 million, up from $4.1 million in 2011. As Quartz reports, 70% of Russian readers are using ebooks, which cost about $3 each in the republic (versus $10 or more in the U.S.).

(MOREHow Apple’s Steve Jobs and Book Publishers Cost Consumers Millions)

Despite the low prices, piracy continues to usurp major publishing companies. According to the RBTH graphic, 92% of readers admit to downloading books free from the internet, causing an estimated annual loss of $120 million for the industry. Rospechat, the governmental agency that regulates mass media, has cracked down on the illegal book market as well as launched a campaign to encourage reading legally. But experts say until Russia creates its own online market like Amazon or sees an influx in quality digital content, e-book growth will remain an illegal undertaking.

The legal crisis underscores a larger price problem in the publishing industry, which more recently gained attention with a U.S. federal ruling that found Apple guilty of conspiracy in e-book price fixing.

MORE: Apple Found Guilty in E-Book Price Fixing Conspiracy Trial

1 comments
JackEason
JackEason

And you are surprised by this? Ebook piracy is endemic across the entire internet. These days any book you care to name which has an eBook alternative will be found on one or other of the many book pirate sites. As writers we are powerless to prevent it happening. Publishers do next to nothing to ensure that only authorised are available for purchase.