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

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Chapter 2. Mapping and Understanding the Emerging Global eBook Market

Many observers of the global book business spent much of 2011 marveling at the pace of ebook penetration in the United States and United Kingdom. In 2012, a new digital buzzword was added: global. Never before has one book spread across not just a continent or two, but around the globe, as did E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey.

How could a piece of “mommy porn” find so many readers on so many frontiers? Its readers share at least some traits that can be considered middle class, which translates to identifiers such as having a job and a desire for shaping one’s own destiny (at least a little bit) and forming an identity that includes sexuality as well as ethnicity and religion. But at least one more factor is missing in that common portrait: all of these readers are in some way part of the digitally connected world that allowed knowledge of this book to spread through word of mouth on an entirely new scale. Shades (what a nice metaphor for that novel phenomenon) started as a piece of fan fiction (another pastime that would not exist without the Internet and social media) of a highly mediatized book, Twilight (which speaks to how culture works in the digital age). It was then self-published, which leads us to consider the author selling directly to the consumer as an alternative approach to a system of middlemen that has developed over the past two centuries. Reading this book in electronic format meant that readers ...

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