Taiwan’s e-book market will grow dramatically in the next three years as a large number of e-book readers and tablets are made available, a local publisher said.
“By 2015, the number of e-book readers and tablets is expected to exceed 2 million units in Taiwan, a figure that is big enough to drive the e-book industry forward faster,” said Yu Kuo-ting (俞國定), chairman of the Taipei-based Taiwan E-book Association (台灣電子書協會).
Taiwan’s e-book industry lags behind the US by three to five years, so 2015 is likely to be the turning point, said Yu, who is also the managing director of Master60 Publishing Ltd.
Citing comments by Publishers Weekly president George Slowik, Yu said the US e-book market accounts for 25 percent of the country’s total publishing industry, and that the share is expected to double within three years before reaching 80 percent in five years.
However, Yu said electronic books can never replace paper books because “the demand for traditional books will always be there.”
Although e-books are very competitive, “there will always be people who prefer to indulge in reading by turning pages and smelling the scent of books,” Yu said.
He said publishers in Taiwan need to find a new business model to harness the trend, such as selling books in both traditional and digital formats, as the paper book market is shrinking, while the e-book market is still small.
Shawn Liu, operation project specialist of the largest publishing business in Taiwan — Cite Publishing Group (城邦媒體集團) — said that industry insiders are worried about piracy.
Liu attributed the underdevelopment of the market to publishers’ unfamiliarity with e-books and worries that digital books would be too easy to illegally copy.
“We have been working hard to protect the copyright of mobile content and measures have been taken,” he said.
Besides enhancing content encryption, a Taiwanese publishing alliance has also decided to establish an online information-sharing platform on Facebook to protect the copyright of mobile content.