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Vietnam's First Self-Publishing Platform Launched Online

Thanks to new technologies, for the first time budget-strapped Vietnamese authors will be able to quickly self-publish their books.

Under the current model in Vietnam, a writer must wait 30 days after submitting a manuscript for an editor to approve it and then another 60 days for editing, printing and license acquisition. Hanoi-based Alpha Books' new publishing platform iPub will allow users to upload, edit and submit work online and within 72 hours have it reviewed and ready to print.

Uploading will initially be free and then the price will increase with additional services such as “Super Save” service for VND4 million, and VND8 million for the “Easy Publish” package with additional costs for various editing and design options.

At a recent seminar, Alpha Books chairman Nguyen Canh Binh explained that the publishing industry needs to adapt to new technology trends as other sectors such as transportation, tourism and real estate have. Currently, only about 30% of manuscripts submitted to publishers are accepted and he argues that embracing innovations could bring more work to more readers.

Greater ease of publishing might not necessarily be a good thing, however. Nguyen Dinh Tu, a popular author of ten novels who is himself experimenting with different models, explains that the new technology has the potential to upend standard career trajectories for writers as they can become successful outside of traditional awards offered by writers' associations. He cautioned that this means a risk for a drop in the quality of books released due to reduced editorial guidance and oversight.

Additionally, while self-publishing allows for greater creative control, higher royalty rates, and quicker turn-around, the potential to reach a large audience is limited without the distribution network and marketing power of publishing houses.  

Beyond the prospects of self-publishing, readership in Vietnam is changing thanks to technologies that are made for online and e-readers. E-publishing achieved revenues of US$20 million in 2018 in Vietnam and is expected to grow to US$40 million by 2023. The majority of the money came from electronic books as opposed to magazines or newspapers.

This, however, represents a small percentage of the total market: currently, electronic publications reach less than 3% of their target rate with less than three million users in the country. Reflecting this situation, Nguyen Minh Hue, director of Cong Thuong Publishing House, says their resources committed to the new format are "modest."

[Image via Facebook page i.Pub

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