Russia has long been renowned for its vast libraries, book collections, and bookstores — though not always accessible to the masses. But in recent years, book sales have fallen on hard times, along with the country’s rocky economy. Now, it appears the e-book revolution has reached the steppes and shores of the federation.
The Financial Times reports that Rusnano, Russia’s state nanotechnology company, intends to invest $150 million in manufacturing e-reader screens in a partnership with Plastic Logic, a California-based electronics group.The screens will then be sent for finally assembly in Taiwan.
The primary market for this technology will be the United States, where e-book sales have been multiplying at astounding rates. The Association of American Publishers reported that e-book sales for the first eight months of 2010 were at $263 million, compared to $89.8 million from January-August 2009 — an overall increase for the category of 193% over the same period last year.
However, it’s likely that Russians themselves will soon be voracious consumers of e-readers and digital content. “Russians are downloading books onto laptops, mobile phones and I-Pads, whatever they can find,” Simon Dunlop, a British businessman who founded Bookmate.ru this year to market e-books in Russia, is quoted as saying.
J’son and Partners Consulting, which tracks the Russian digital market, estimates that sales of e-readers will reach about 440,000 this year — up from 250,000 in 2009 and 60,000 the year before.