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eBooks in the ASEAN Market

Posted on 2012-Dec-10

by BB eBooks Staff

1st ASEAN eBook Conference 2012


Following the first eBook conference of ASEAN countries, the community of Asian readers seems to grow by leaps and bounds when the combined sales statistics revealed how the readers increasingly accepted the digital book format and how local online retailers all share success stories everywhere in the neighboring region.

The 1st ASEAN eBook Conference 2012 aims to promote the new EPUB3 standard, discuss the eBook market, and understand readers’ desires in ASEAN countries. Insiders from publishers and eBook retailers in the region joined the conference to provide an overview of the ASEAN eBook industry. Guy Hallowes, managing director of Mills & Boon’s UK’s eBook program, openly opinionates that there is no rule about eBook pricing strategy. The more formats the content provider can offer, the higher chance readers are willing to spend money on convenience to access their desired content. Regardless of how eBook tends to be the reader’s dream, there are certain issues content providers should be concerned.

Typo-Ridden Frustration


Recently, misspellings have become more apparent as though they were part of an eBook’s inbred stigma. Mr. Hallowes stressed the importance how content quality, variety, service speed, efficiency, and pricing competitiveness will play a significant role in distinguishing one provider from the other. The rigorous quality control will essentially upstage the typo-ridden frustration so readers can truly enjoy the ultimate reading experience as their previous physical materials have brought.

Outsourcing PDF Conversion


PDF conversion issues seem to be one the most common task that digital conversion shops have to face. Although it is a time-consuming process, it remains one of the most popular source files authors have worked on. According to Paul Singh from Harlequin Mills & Boon in Australia, his suggestion is to outsource this labor-intensive task to experts or develop the internal operation to complete the assignment. BB eBooks is happy to help in this endeavor.

The ASEAN eRetailers


In an afternoon session, ASEAN eRetailers shared their experience establishing the digital footprint in the growing eBook market. Thailand’s leading digital publication provider, OOKBEE, presents the steady growth of mobile devices users who will contribute to eBook purchases. So far, many eBooks have been published in local languages. The number of 2.5 million users is not that hard to achieve for the fresh startup who has just reached two years of age. Interestingly, the company managed to attract more than 1 million new users in 4 months.

With over 88% market share and 3,930 new users added to the customer service list daily, new possibilities beyond production is analyzed by the company’s business development director. Polapot Udomphol shows the relation how bestselling titles affect the sales figures of eBook counterparts. If the print book sells well in the physical store, the digital imprint will replicate the success story. However, when prints books are immune against value added tax, eBooks is not exempted from 7% tax inclusion.

Vietnam market shows the different side of commercial strategy as price drop remains the aggressive focus to attract readers. Local eRetailer, Alezaa, plans to set the eBook prices lower than $2. Affordability is not the only marketing strategy CEO Phuong Tran has in mind; apart from cloud-based reading options, his platform will allow readers to download a single book onto five different devices. For publishers, the platform also provides the PDF-to-ePUB conversion tool to facilitates the local publishers in eBook production. We remain highly skeptical of automated conversion processes, but it sounds interesting.

Regardless of the bookstores’ closures in Singapore, the estimated sales of $41 million exceed any level of expectation from such an avid reading country. Surprisingly, 400,000 Singaporeans shop their favorite eBooks on Amazon in 2010. Government-backed MediaCorp is not reluctant to provide similar service and reap adequate success with the benefit of 149.6% penetrate rate of smartphones and tablets acquired by consumers and readers. On the mobile devices, convenience and affordability tend to be the key factors that mobilize the sales of eBooks.

In Indonesia an astounding number of mobile phone users combined with the strength of their e-Commerce viability led Mizan Digital Publishing to launch their first eBook 13 years ago. They had initial success with 15,000 downloads of their free title, but new challenges have emerged. Publishers are skeptical about eBook technology; authors are primarily concerned with their intellectual property protection; readers need fast payment and more eReaders.

Although Malaysian publishers are newbies in this industry, several ePublishing bookstores are ready to launch more than 10,000 titles. Educational institutes also contribute to eBook sales as they have become the country’s eBook users.

Multi-Regional Availability

According to Publishers Weekly, more details about eBook publishers, eRetailers, and the entire industry will be presented in a special report on March 4 of 2013. The healthy growth in eBook sales within ASEAN countries in on par with the global trend in the sense that new readers and content providers are expected to collaborate on expanding the digital book catalogue and continue to revolutionize the way the reading experience is presented. Although the road to all-digital publishing solutions is somehow filled with obstacles, the dynamic evolution of eBook technology will forcibly become a household name in the near future due to the reader’s universal approval. Feel obligated to monitor or “track the digital movement” to potentially increase the discoverability of your product’s multi-regional availability.

Label: eBook Industry News

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