Emerging Global Internet Users Young, Social, Read English

A Pew study published last week finds that Internet use in emerging and developing countries is highest among younger, more affluent, better educated users who read English—all potentially good news for English-language ebook publishers setting down roots in international markets.

Despite wide variation in the rates of access among the 32 countries Pew surveyed, national income correlated strongly to Internet use.

Internet mobile smartphone Pew ebooks global readers

Source: Pew

A median of 44% of survey subjects used mobile and other devices at least occasionally in order to access the Internet.

According to Pew researchers, “People who read or speak English are also more likely to access the Internet, even when holding constant other key factors, such as age and education.”

That could represent significant opportunities for English-language ebook publishers and distributors to grow their global footprints.

Related: Publishers’ Global Content Obligation

HarperCollins is now actively pursuing global acquisitions, building off its purchase of Harlequin last year, which CFO Bedi Singh says has gone “much better than we had planned,” especially since Harlequin’s “international platform has been a real asset when we have been negotiating book deals.”

The race among leading ebook subscription services is also becoming and ever more global game. At Digital Book World 2015, Oyster confirmed plans to expand internationally, hiring its first ever CFO this week in what’s been seen as a move to help it do exactly that. Bookmate made a play for Asian ebook readers by launching in Singapore in the final weeks of 2014.

The Pew study also hints at the preferences and expectations of Internet users in emerging and developing countries when it comes to content accessed online.

Internet mobile smartphone Pew ebooks global readers

Source: Pew

Personal communications and social networking clocked in at the top of Internet users’ preferred activities, at 86% and 82%, respectively.

The Internet is also widely seen as having a positive influence on education, with a median of 64% of users and non-users agreeing this to be so, compared with the sizable share (a median of 42%) of those who believe that the Internet negatively impacts morality.

Taken together, the two findings may suggest a greater receptivity, on balance, to nonfiction and other information-based content that’s delivered via digital channels. Then again, it’s anyone’s guess just how far purported moral qualms factor into consumers’ content purchases.

And then there’s the mobile question.

While only two of the 32 countries Pew studied, Chile and China, showed rates of smartphone use at levels comparable to that of the U.S. (58%), researchers are keen to note that “as with Internet access, the people buying these phones are young and educated, so the movement toward greater smartphone adoption is likely to continue.”

The full results of the study are available here.

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