Czech e-book library could give boost to stuttering market

Illustrative photo: Štěpánka Budková

The first Czech online book library offering e-books of long published and new volumes has started up.

Illustrative photo: Štěpánka Budková
Bookport offers access to 3,500 Czech titles for a subscription of 199 crowns a month. The publisher adds that hundreds of new titles are added daily.

Inspiration for the new offer comes from the highly successful US server offering films and series online, Netflix, according to the owner of the new service, the publisher Grada. A similar musical library is offered by Spotify.

While multinational e-sales giant Amazon also offers books, Grada says its rival’s Czech offer is miore limited and doesn’t cover as many new novels.

Grada says it has sealed deals with a handful of other Czech publishers, such as Galén, Portál, Vyšehrad, and Epocha, so that their books can be offered as well as its own. But it is also looking to broaden its base of suppliers and books with other local publishers invited to join up.

The new library is seen giving some impetus to a local e-book market which appears to have been struggling in recent years. Up to 2014 the number of e-books and their purchases were doubling every year in the Czech Republic. But the market now appears to be showing just a modest increase in business.

Business daily, Hospodářské Noviny, reported October 27 that preliminary figures from the Association of Czech Booksellers and Publishers shows that e-book sales in 2016 rose by just 11 percent on the previous year to total 118 million crowns. This represents about 2.0 percent of the overall book market in the country. The association says around 16,500 Czech e-books were available last year, an increase of 1,500 new titles compared with the previous year.

In some other countries, such as Britain and the US, e-book turnover is already accounting for around 20 percent of the total book market. Some warn though that real growth in the e-book market will only happen when the prices of titles comes down dramatically compared with the traditional paper form. One factor keeping e-book prices higher is that they qualify for a higher Value