Ebook, new hope to local publishing sector

Ebooks are revitalising the local publishing sector even as traditional publishing undergoes a drastic decline in sales revenue due to COVID-19 impacts.
ebook new hope to local publishing sector
Ebooks bring vitality to the publication industry

At the national online book festival held in mid-April, for the first time, the Organising Committee piloted the launching of an ebook space and copyright trading platform, helping to connect local online publishers and readers, as well as creating a platform for domestic and overseas publishers to communicate.

The event wrapped up with great success. More than 40,000 books were sold, three times as many as last year. Sales revenue of books (price discounts included) reached VND3.5 billion ($152,170), a 3.5-fold increase compared to 2020, with more than 5.9 million readers visiting the book festival, also three times as many as in 2020.

The publishing sector has undergone a tough 2020 due to COVID-19 impacts.

The publishing sector has undergone a tough year in 2020 due to COVID-19. Leading performers in the sector like Thai Ha Books, Fahasa, Dinh Ti, Nha Nam, Phuong Nam, or Alpha saw revenue drop 30-50 per cent.

Nguyen Xuan Minh, Planning and Copyright director of Nha Nam Publishing and Communications JSC, said that the company’s bookstores have seen revenue shrinking by 30-40 per cent compared to pre-pandemic times.

Meanwhile, Tran Nhat Hoang Phuong, marketing director of Phuong Nam, said that aside from changing customer demands, the shortage of key material like paper has resulted in soaring material cost, hampering the sector’s development.

A recent report by the Authority of Publication, Printing and Distribution under the Ministry of Information and Communications showed that despite being hit by COVID-19, the publishing sector made big strides in 2020 to maintain operations, publishing more than 33,000 book titles with 410 million copies, 92 per cent of 2019’s level and generating VND2.7 trillion ($117.4 million) in total revenue (97 per cent of 2019’s figure).

Even ebook, deemed as an end to distribution sector in pandemic time, also witnessed a decline in publication. Last year, nine publishing units (15 per cent of all publishing houses) published ebooks, with more than 2,000 book titles, nearly 400 titles fewer than in 2019.

While ebook publication has yet to prosper, online sales have resumed growth this year. 

At Phuong Nam Co., Ltd., online sales revenue rose 2.5-fold compared to a year ago, despite dwindling revenue from traditional publications.

Tiki’s book segment saw growth double in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2020. The platform sold more than 40,000 books to customers just in April 2021 when the national online book festival took place.

Nguyen Nguyen, director general of the Authority of Publication, Printing and Distribution, however, assumed that the robust growth of online book sales still cannot offset the sharp fall in traditional book sales as traditional book publication accounts for more than 50 per cent of the market share of many publishers. 

Highlighting ebook publication as an inevitable trend, early this year the Authority of Publication, Printing and Distribution has set the target of having 15 per cent of all book titles in a year published electronically by 2025, generating 8-10 per cent of the sector’s total revenue, estimated at VND250 billion ($10.8 million).

Up to half of publishing houses will be encouraged to take part in ebook publication.

According to Nguyen Thi Diem Phuong, head of Sachweb, a website specialising in ebook supply underHo Chi Minh City General Publishing House, there are three challenges facing any publisher stepping into this field: dealing with copyright violation threats, the gap in technology use in rural and remote areas, and ensuring profitability.

Sachweb has been publishing more than 3,000 ebook titles over the past nearly 10 years.


By Tuan Thuy

Nguồn: Vietnam Investment Review

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