| LONDON, April 21
LONDON, April 21 Penguin Group has become the
first international publisher to sign an English electronic book
distribution deal in China after seeing significant growth in
the United States, the head of the group said on Tuesday.
John Makinson, chairman and chief executive of the Pearson
Group (PSON.L) unit, told reporters that its e-book sales for
the first three months of the year in the U.S., the leading
market for e-book readers, were about seven times the level of
the previous year.
He said they were "running up to around 1 percent of sales"
in the U.S. and would be more than 1 percent by the end of the
"The underlying growth in e-book sales is very significant
in the U.S. and we expect over time that in the international
markets that we are here to talk about (Britain, China, India,
South Africa and Australia) it will be very significant there
too," Makinson said.
Sales of electronic readers, including Amazon's (AMZN.O)
Kindle and Sony's (6758.T) Reader, have been growing fast over
the last year in the U.S. as the gadgets, small and light enough
to be carried in a handbag, can eliminate the need to carry
around the more bulky books and newspapers.
Technology blogs have also speculated that Apple (AAPL.O)
could announce a new device called an iTablet.
Makinson said that Penguin expected e-books to sell well in
new markets once the devices were available there.
He said the group had just signed an agreement with
Beijing-based Founder Apabi Group, which will make it the first
international publisher to distribute English e-books in China.
Under the agreement, it will make available its full-range
of e-books from the United Kingdom and all of its Dorling
Kindersley imprint, currently more than 2,000 titles.
Penguin said its best-selling titles would be available in
English to download in May.
Makinson said e-books were protected by anti-piracy
software, which limited file sharing, and the group had not seen
However, he said Penguin was keeping a close eye on Web
sites that held books online for any breaches of international
(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Karen Foster)