E-Book Market Appeals to Small Pockets

      August 05, 2005 18:47

      A woman reads an e-book on her PDA

      The printed book is doing slow business due to the recession, but the e-book market has doubled. Recording W25 billion (about US$25 million) in sales last year, the industry is expected to make W50 billion in sales this year and W140 billion next year.

      About 100 newly released books like "Buffett & Gates on Success" (Wolbook) and "I Am a Photo" (Da Vinci) were first published online. The marketing strategy is to first get a response from netizens, who then drive up sales of printed editions through their blogs and word of mouth. Some 800 publishing houses simultaneously market printed and online editions of their books.

      E-book sales started in 1999 and recorded W3 billion the following year. But with content building up, the Internet and mobile community reaching ever more people and users growing accustomed to the multimedia environment, the e-book-reading population is estimated to hit 3.5 million people this year.

      About 100,000 books can be read as e-books so far. Novels, essays, business publications, language study books, how-to books and social science texts are all being produced in electronic form. Next year, the total should climb to 340,000, roughly what a large book store holds.

      Something of a strain on the eye, their strong point is low price. Readers feeling the recession can buy books that would cost over W10,000 in hard copy for 40-50 percent of the money. In the case of "49 Things You Should Do in Your Life" (Wisdom House), which sold 800,000 copies this year, the print edition costs W8,800 and the e-book just W3,600. The book was downloaded 50,000 times in the first half of the year. Because books are split into three or four parts when turned into e-books and sold so that readers can download only the parts they need, sales are indicated through download totals.

      For now, e-books remain at the level of taking printed books and converting them into digital files. But they will soon develop into multimedia books that combine text, sound and video. Gimm-Young Publishers president Park Eun-ju said, "I can't reveal it, but we are developing a marketing strategy just for e-books... Perhaps late this year, we will publish a true multimedia e-book completely distinct from a printed book."

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