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Ozon and Ulmart seek to shake up Russia's e-books market

0 8 May 2014

The Russian e-books sector has so far been dominated by small players, but that looks set to change as online retail giants Ozon and Ulmart aim to integrate two of the most popular projects into their platforms.

This week Ozon took a big step to living up to its billing as “Russia’s Amazon” when it received permission from the federal anti-monopoly service to acquire Best Book - which owns LitRes, Russia’s most popular e-book retailer.

In 2013 LitRes held 55-58% of the Russian e-book market. Its catalogue includes more than 400,000 titles, and on average more than 55,000 e-books and 7,000 audio books were downloaded from the site every week in 2013. This was enough to make LitRes Russia’s highest-earning non-game mobile app last year (not including advertising revenue). 

While widespread piracy means that the e-book market in Russia is still small, it is growing fast. It was estimated to be worth $14.2 million in 2013, a 100% increase on 2012. Experts reckon that this triple digit growth will continue in 2014 as mobile devices become increasingly popular. 

Ulmart CEO Dmitry Kostigin is optimistic that money can be made from e-books in spite of the proliferation of free pirate content. He explained his company’s plans to integrate Bookmate, an app that allows users to read books across multiple devices, into Ulmart’s online store.

“Russia needs a multi-platform service (books in no less than 6 formats) that works on different devices. Piracy has flattened the Russian market, but if consumers were offered an inexpensive, good quality service that allowed them, say, to pay 30 roubles (less than $1) and download the 30 best comedies of the year in excellent quality in just a few seconds, then they might well be willing to pay. It’s just the same with music. The experience of developed markets shows that a subscription system probably works better than individual downloads. We’ve got some useful experience and some decent ideas that should allow us to take the industry forward. So you can expect to see books, music and films in Ulmart’s online store within the next year.”

Sources: Firrma, Vedomosti

Top image via Shutterstock

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