Free online book publisher finds success in SA

While traditional book publishers are still struggling to find a viable business model for eBooks, Bookboon.com is taking a different approach. With its free digital books it offers an alternative for the often unfairly-priced eBooks.

In South Africa, 200,000 books were downloaded in the last 12 months.

The whole market is in transition, and the traditional publishers are being left behind, since they are not adapting quickly enough to the new market. “We do not understand why eBooks are barely cheaper than paper books when the overhead costs are so much lower. How can publishers explain this to their readers?” asked Kristian Madsen, CEO of bookboon.com.

Bookboon offers an alternative for the often unfairly priced eBooks. The eBooks are available for free thanks to the insertion of a small number of employer branding and recruitment advertisements in the eBooks. Currently the publisher offers business books; academic books for university students; and travel guides.

This approach has been successful in South Africa. In the past 12 months, bookboon.com has had 200.000 eBook downloads. This represents an increase of 300%. “We expect that the next 12 months will be even better. More students and business people have an e-reader or tablet and they are looking for cheap books,” said Madsen.

A fair chance for all students

South African students often use bookboon.com as an alternative for the high-priced mandatory literature. “Depending on the subject, I can save around R2,100 on books per subject. If I [bought] them second-hand I would save around R400,” said Samuel Desire Mudzengi, a second year economics student from the University of South Africa (UNISA).

Bookboon is a book publishing house of free e-books. All eBooks are written exclusively for the publisher by specialists and university professors. In 2011, 11 million books were downloaded worldwide – for 2012, 50 million downloads are expected.

Bookboon.com originates from Denmark, out of Ventus Publishing, established in 1988. In 2005 the company made a strategic leap and became the first book publishing company in the world to focus 100% on free eBooks.

Currently headquartered in London, bookboon.com also has offices in Copenhagen, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Munich, and is constantly expanding its book collection to new countries and languages.

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Free online book publisher finds success in SA