Amazon launches Russian Kindle section

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March 05, 2015
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Alexander Pushkin’s library. Amazon is likely to contribute to further growth of the country’s eBook market but many Russians still have strong preference for “traditional” books. © Alexandr Demyanchuk, RIA Novosti

Amazon has launched a special section for eBooks in Russian on its Kindle store. thinkRUSSIA analyses what this means for the Russian e-book market.

Friday the 13th is known as an inauspicious date. For aficionadas of Russian language and literature though, that day this month brought some welcome news. Amazon, the world’s biggest online retailer, added a Russian eBook section to its store. Although books in Russian could be purchased on Amazon before, now they are for the first time stored in one concrete place and indexed to enable an easy search.

A step in the right direction

The section is still in the early phase of development, probably explaining why there was no official announcement from the company. For instance, the interface is still mostly in English and the prices are listed in dollars. However, it already counts about 9,500 titles which puts Russian among the 8 languages with the highest number of books available on the website.

Vladimir Kharitonov, CEO of the Russian Association of Web Publishers said that, although the catalogue is for the moment far smaller than some other Russian e-catalogues, it does boast an array of books. It stores a mix of classical literature, academic publications and independent authors and can prove useful for foreigners studying Russian language and Russians living abroad who may not be familiar with the Russian eBook distribution network.

According to Kharitonov, Russian publishers should be pleased with this development as many have long-standing contracts with Amazon so the launch of this section should dramatically boost sales.

A large and fast growing eBook market

Amazon, however, should expect some stiff competition. Last year, Russia reportedly became the third biggest eBook market in the world, behind the United States and China, and shows significant potential for further growth. It is expected to share 5% of the total book market in the next two to three years and is frequently described as the most promising eBook market.

At the same time, the Russian digital market is expected to double by 2018, reaching 30bn euro. This is no coincidence considering that Russia has the highest number of both internet and mobile users in Europe.

In such an environment, Amazon will have a hard time battling well established Russian distributors.  The increased competition will surely benefit the industry as a whole though while creation of a Russian Kindle section certainly represents an important step in promoting Russian language and culture in the world.

Have you already bought a Russian eBook on Amazon? How do you think this move will affect Russian publishers?

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