Google, Amazon, Kobo enter Brazilian ebook race almost simultaneously

Significant, or coincidence?

And the ebook race is on in Brazil.

While we here at Book Business tend to focus our attention on the U.S. (and, to an extent, the U.K. markets), we’ve been keeping an eye on publishers’ and retailers’ ebook efforts in other parts of the world. The lure of easy digital distribution to all those billions of readers in markets like South Asia, South America, Africa and beyond must be absolutely mouthwatering for retailers.

Of course there’s a thicket potential snags on the road to breaking into a new market: internet adoption rates, the health of the local economy, regulatory and governmental issues, and the existing retail/etail landscape.

While we’ve seen Amazon and others make inroads into some of these untapped ebook markets previously (such as Japan, India and the Spanish-speaking world), the announcements that Amazon, Google and Kobo have begun Portuguese ebook sales in Brazil—what with its nearly 200M people and $12B ecommerce market—within a day of each other feels significant. Like a land rush, with Kobo, Amazon and Google responding to some subsonic cannon boom.

The Kobo Touch reader will go on sale via Livraria Cultura; Amazon will begin selling its Kindle e-reading devices in the coming weeks (though its books can also be read on iOS and Android apps); and Google, it seems, will be focusing on getting its ebooks onto Android devices (though, if this chart is to be believed, there are no Android tablets, only phones, available in Brazil at present).

(Apple has been in Brazil since October).

Of course, ebook adoption has been slower in global markets than in the U.S., which has us wondering if Brazil will be a bellweather of sorts for the industry, or a signal that the international ebook race has begun in earnest.

What do you think the future of the global book market looks like?

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