Ebooks are coming for you, Poland
It’s expected that the Polish ebook market is set to explode (in a good way) in the next few years – by 2016, the ebook market is set to be worth US$106 million, compared with it’s current estimated value of $37 million. If you put aside the monetary aspect – that’s a lot of Polish ereaders about to come into use. What is the Polish ebook market doing right?
Over half of ereader owners in Poland own a Kindle device. So in part, the success of the Kindle in Poland is owed to the large number of Polish people living and working in western Europe, who have learned English and would have an easy access to ereaders and ebooks. Upon returning to Poland with their British or German Amazon accounts, they still have access to the cheaper rate that Amazon provides to countries within the Kindle allowance, avoiding surcharges like VAT. Currently ebooks in Poland carry a 23% VAT charge, compared with 5% for print books. This is in spite of the fact that a very small portion of ebooks available in Poland are actually available in Polish – most are in English. That’s one aspect of the ebook market that publishers and ebook sellers alike will have to catch up on quickly, if they want to attract and keep Polish speakers.
The fact that Amazon doesn’t really have a specific Kindle and ebook market means that the market is also open to more experimentation and competition between local publishers and ebookstores. Remove the behemoth and all the underlings come out to play! Some publishers are offering annual online subscription models, others are testing models that are reminiscent of Kindle Singles.
Furthermore, Polish consumers seem to prefer ereaders as their ebook-reading device of choice. When a poll was conducted by a Polish online ebookseller, it was discovered that 83% of consumers used ereaders of varying brands, with just 43% and 14% using computers (both tablets and laptops) or smartphones to access ebooks, respectively.
Poland’s ebook market and industry seem to be in a phase of rapid development that is working in their favour. The majority of local publishers have discarded any form of digital rights management (DRM) to stop piracy and secure and are instead favouring digital watermarks on their ebooks. This has greatly helped their sales, according to chief executive of Virtualo.pl, Robert Rybski.
“For the last three years, we have been witnessing a major hike in revenues generated in the fourth quarter of each year, and then another hike on the turn of April and May. Summer marks the sales period, as is the case in the traditional book market, which facilitates the popularisation of ebooks… Since December 2011, when we introduced some of the key modifications into our product range, such as protecting our digital content with watermarks and offering ebooks in the MOBI format, we have seen a three-digit increase in sales every year.”
So it seems that a lot of Poland’s current, and perhaps even future, expansion in the ebook market is reliant on the fact that Amazon is a largely absent figure. It will be interesting to watch over the coming months and years how the market reacts if Amazon does show up, or – more excitingly, in my opinion – what will happen if it doesn’t. As it is, the ebook market in Poland still only takes up about 2% of the overall book market – meaning there is a lot of ground to cover if they want to catch up with the print market.
Image taken from digitaltrends.com.