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The Global eBook Market: Current Conditions & Future Projections by Ruediger Wischenbart

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Chapter 1. Executive Summary

This report provides an overview of internationally emerging ebook markets, with a thorough analysis and synopsis of key global developments and a broad set of detailed references as a resource for anyone interested in the globalization of digital (book) content production and dissemination.

The report offers a status on the US and UK markets as well as a broad survey of data on emerging ebook markets across Europe and from Brazil, China, India, Russia, and the Arab world.

There are also chapters that focus on ebook bestsellers and pricing strategies across several markets, piracy, and the expanding activities of the leading global players such as Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google, and Kobo. Key data on the more mature ebook markets in the US and UK serve as benchmarks.

The findings allow us to assess, on one hand, how the main drivers of digital change in the publishing industry impact international markets in similar ways, as reading platforms and distribution infrastructures become available and as publishers in all markets start to make their title catalogs available in digital formats. On the other hand, a wide array of local factors—from market size through tax and pricing regimes to cultural choices—show that each market must be presented with its unique defining traits.

In Europe, Germany is ahead in embracing digital trade books, especially fiction, but is clearly behind the US and UK. Countries as diverse as Austria, France, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden have recently seen the implementation of an ebook distribution infrastructure, and at least the largest publishing groups are broadly releasing their new titles as ebooks in addition to print. Debates and market developments in several of the small and linguistically diverse countries of Central and Eastern Europe show how global and local factors can both support and repress the spread of ebooks, as local players suddenly have to confront much larger global actors. In China, Brazil, India, and the Arab world, distinct local factors also impact market developments, with educational publishing, not fiction, being the strongest driving force toward digital, unlike the case in North America and Europe.

Key regulatory issues, such as the recent actions of the US and European governments, as well as tax issues and legal controversies, notably involving copyright, are also documented and analyzed in this report.

This “Global eBook Market” study is a first step toward using actual data, not forecasts, to map the course of future development, tapping into a wide array of sources and backed up by expert interviews. Updates and close ups on additional markets are prepared for the months and years ahead.

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