return icon

How technology changes traditional books

Human knowledge has been digitized for cyberspace in the Internet era.

Thu Huyen, 25, pulled out her Kindle device, typed the book title and read the long novel The Fountainhead on the screen.

Like Huyen, many young people consider reading books on electronic devices an indispensable part of modern society, where holding a thick book in public is inconvenient and unusual.

Many things that can be read on smartphones, tablets or e-book devices, from novels and love stories to picture books. Audio books are available also.

The ebook industry has boomed since the appearance of Amazon Kindle. However, for many reasons, the ebook market share in the US has so far been stagnant, accounting for only $1.94 billion of the total revenue of $25.93 billion in 2019, according to a report by the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

Monopoly of ebook distributors


Công nghệ đã thay đổi sách truyền thống như thế nào-1

Amazon holds a dominant market share in the US and the world's largest copyrighted ebook consuming countries, according to a report by Author Earnings.



When Amazon Kindle came out and set the price of ebooks much cheaper than paper books, publishers joined forces to fight this monopoly. As a result, Amazon was forced to introduce a policy that made the price of the ebook version not much cheaper than the hardcover version.

In some cases, copyrighted ebooks are even more expensive than paper books, because readers can buy used books at prices that are much lower than the cover prices.

Today, the competition between Big Tech groups in the book publishing market through their own content distribution platforms has not caused the price of ebooks to decrease. The reason is that Amazon can take up to 65% commission while Apple and Google take no less than 30%.

All publishers or individual authors are forced to accept this revenue share, because there is no such thing as a free lunch. The first Kindle e-book device came out in 2007 for $399, but today the latest version starts at just $89.

However, Amazon earns profits from ad revenue on the device and commissions from online book sales. The giant holds the largest share in the ebook market thanks to a huge bookstore of more than 6 million book titles, from stories, comics, magazines to children's stories.

There are no statistics of Kindle users, but Amazon says it has sold an average of 10 million Kindles devices a year since 2007. This e-commerce giant is targeting over 60% market share of ebooks. If the market share of traditional book sales is combined, Amazon even holds up to 80% of the market share, almost creating a monopoly in the book distribution market.

Bottleneck of ebooks


Công nghệ đã thay đổi sách truyền thống như thế nào-2

Many Vietnamese publishers have had to stop ebooks because of piracy.




Not to mention the issue of piracy, eBooks have been dependent on Amazon from the beginning. Publishers and book authors are forced to choose between a 35% share or a 70% share of the copyright.

That is, when they choose 70% of revenue, the book price is between $2.99 and $9.99, 20% cheaper than the hard copy if available on Amazon. If an ebook falls outside this rule, the publisher or author takes only 35% of the revenue.

If they don't choose Amazon, the publisher or author can choose Google, Apple or a distributor with a good market share like Kobo (Canada), Nook (USA).

If publishers or authors ignore Amazon, they will not have enough revenue to reinvest in books. Amazon's competitors, which don't have a large bookstore, cannot attract the same number of readers.

Trends of the times

In Vietnam, ebook culture has not been established as most readers still read pirated e-books. Finding pirated e-books in Vietnam, including both Vietnamese and English editions, is not difficult.

For this reason, Tiki closed Miki App after many years of getting losses. Meanwhile, another application, Waka, is still struggling to survive. Recently, startup Voiz FM was launched, with the ambition to enter the audiobook market, which is expected to earn revenue of $20 million by 2024.

The model used by Waka and Voiz FM is monthly subscription, but their numbers of book titles are limited, with over 13,000 ebooks and 2,000 audio books, respectively.

With the monthly subscription model, these apps can temporarily solve the problem. But another problem arises: accounts shared illegally among many readers.

Another direction that Vietnamese publishers have considered is a self-distribution platform for eBooks. But it takes a long time to get a licence, to print and to digitize books, while it takes only minutes to make and distribute illegal e-versions of a book title.

Despite those difficulties, ebooks are inevitable, as thick dictionaries have now been replaced by quick translation tools on computers and smartphones.

It's time for Vietnamese publishers to digitize their paper books, and diversify content with images, sounds, virtual reality (AR/VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) to keep up with the ebook revolution when it booms in Vietnam.

Phuong Nguyen

How can books change us?

How can books change us?

The “How Worthwhile Is Your Youth” program contributes to changing the minds of many young people.

Seeking books that help change a nation's destiny

Seeking books that help change a nation's destiny

“Each book has its own mission and impact on an individual audience. When they are combined, the book creates power that can change the whole nation,” the CEO of a book house told VietNamNet.


Corporate bond market struggling with challenges

The size of the corporate bond market is estimated at some VND1,374 trillion, equivalent to 15% of GDP. The Government aims to raise this figure to 20% by 2025.

President requires greater efforts to promote value of Ngoc Linh ginseng

Ngoc Linh ginseng deserves the "National treasure" title, and it is necessary to strongly promote the role of this treasure in improving people's livelihoods, President Nguyen Xuan Phuc said .

EVFTA outpaces CPTPP in preference utilisation rate

The utilisation rate of tax incentives set out in the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) during Q1 soared by over 32%, representing a four-fold rise compared to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Refusal to issue visas to new VN passport causes problems for travel firms

The rejection of Vietnam’s new passport by some EU member countries is affecting HCM City tourism companies since their customers are unable to travel to those countries.

Vietnam set to scrap COVID quarantine for imported processed seafood

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has removed COVID-related quarantine requirements for frozen processed seafood products imported for the purpose of reprocessing for export.

HCM City seeks to boost technology transfer from universities

Huynh Kim Tuoc, managing director of Sai Gon Innovation Hub's (SiHub) Start-up Support Centre under the HCM City Department of Science and Technology, affirmed Vietnam holds tremendous potential for technology development

Vigilance urged against COVID-19 amid emergence of new epidemics

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh asked ministries, agencies and localities to maintain vigilance against COVID-19 while addressing a meeting in Hanoi on Saturday.

Vietnamese, British agencies coordinate in identifying fire victims

The Consular Department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Vietnamese Embassy in the UK will continue to coordinate with Vietnamese and British agencies to identify victims in a blaze in Greater Manchester on May 7.

Photo contest highlighting beauty of Vietnamese islands kicks off

Professional and amateur photographers across Vietnam are encouraged to compete in a photo contest highlighting the beauty of Vietnamese Hoang Sa and Truong Sa islands.

Enjoying Quang-style noodle soup in the place where it was born

Phu Chiem Village in Dien Phuong Commune, Dien Ban District, Quang Nam Province, is where the popular Quang-style noodle soup was first created. And where better to taste this specialty than the place where it was born.

Exploring hidden spots on Co To Island

Aside from white sand, the blue sea and fresh air, Co To Island in Quang Ninh Province has several other beautiful spots that are worth a visit.

Vietnamese leaders extend sympathy to Cuba over oil tank explosion

Top Vietnamese leaders have sent messages of sympathy to their Cuban counterparts over severe losses caused by a massive blaze in an oil storage facility in Cuba’s province of Matanzas on August 5.

CNN reporter loves Vietnamese fish sauce

Chris Dwyer, a reporter for CNN, says he has loved Vietnamese fish sauce made in Phu Quoc (South Vietnam), though it was not easy to taste at the beginning.

Apple CEO Tim Cook appreciates Vietnam market potential

Vietnam, together with Brazil, Indonesia and India that are emerging markets, have made practical contributions to Apple’s group’s outstanding performance in the second quarter of this year, said CEO Tim Cook.

Electronics manufacturers ‘forget’ to recall or recycle used products

Large electronics manufacturers are still not willing to participate in the collecting and recycling of electronic waste to ensure a good living environment for people.