Welcome to the Ebook Bargains UK official Blog.
We send out a semi-regular newsletter to our advertising authors and publishers with news, views and clues about what’s happening in the world beyond the US ebook market, and the feedback has been great. But until lnow there’s been no opportunity for readers to share their views and news with others. Hence this blog, which is aimed anot just at EBUK advertisers but at anyone interested in the international English-language ebook scene.
This blog launch post is a little (okay, a lot!) longer than the norm, but we think you’ll find it well worth reading through. Please feel free to have your say, ask questions, point out any errors, etc, in the comments section below.
- By the time you read this the Ebook Bargains Latin America newsletter will be live, bringing us to a total of thirteen daily newsletters going out around the globe. The daily links for all the newsletters are on our facebook page, updated each morning GMT.
- We hope to have Ebook Bargains France and Ebook Bargains Italy live this month, and Ebook Bargains Scandinavia up and running early November. That will be followed by Ebook Bargains Middle East and Ebook Bargains Eastern Europe before Christmas.
- As and when we get signifcant subscriber interest for particular countries in those regional newsletters we’ll roll out a dedicated newsletter to suit, but we wil be looking at 2014 for that. Finding subscribers in these nascent markets will take time
- The planned Ebook Bargains Erotica weekly newsletter is still on the cards. We have yet to resolve the fine detail with our newsletter hosting service Mailchimp over what breaches their adult materials policy. Better safe than sorry.
Kobo in the Philppines
The big news has to be the launch of the new Kobo site in the Philippines. And no, we haven’t put in the wrong picture to go with this item. What you see above is a typical branch of the National Book Store, the largest book retail chain in the Philippines. If you look closely you’ll see the signs are in English. So are most of the books.
In fact there are 75 million English speakers in the Philippines. That’s more than the entire population of the UK!
By no coincidence we launched our Ebook Bargains S.E. Asia newsletter the same week the NBS ebook store went live, targeting readers not just in the Philippines but also Taiwan, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
If you’re thinking, “Why bother? These countries don’t know what ebooks are yet,” think again. Some eye-opening stats below.
Kobo has an expansion programme lined up across S.E Asia, and with Amazon and Apple both notably absent from the region it looked for a little while like Kobo could corner the SE Asia market ebook market.
GooglePlay had other ideas.
GooglePlay in S. E. Asia
Just a week after Kobo launched in the Philippines along came GooglePlay and opened a store in the Philippines. And in Malaysia, and Thailand, and Hong Kong, and Vietnam, and Singapore, and Indonesia, and Taiwan, and New Zealand.
Chances are you’re not in GooglePlay yet. Most indies aren’t, and those that are are mostly not seeing much action. But rest assured GooglePlay is going to reward those that get in early and get traction early in these nascent markets.
Don’t go thinking the GooglePlay ebook store is just a sideline show for Google. We have it on good authority (EBUK advertisers, no less!) that GooglePlay is actively approaching and signing up selected indie authors for special promo deals. If you have a forward-thinking agent embracing digital then getting them to contact GooglePlay might just be a good idea. With thirty-six international stores GooglePlay are most definitely the place to be for any author taking the global market seriously.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Meet the Retailers
As many of you may know, the English-speaking country Singapore is off limits to Amazon customers. But with ebooks at 5% of market share and growing fast, it’s definitely the place to be.
You can reach Singapore readers through GoogePlay and eSentral. More on eSentral in future posts.
But of course there are local stores too. Booktique is one such. Not easy to get into – we’re still waitng to hear back from them on their supply chain – but whether indies can get in easily now or not, it’s worth getting to know the global stores, because these are your future.
At some stage you are going to want to up your game to professional indie status and that means competing with the trad publishers in every market, not just the ones you can self-pub to during your lunch-break. Ignoring, or being unaware, of the new markets and opportunities emerging will do you no favours long term, even if right now you’re just taking those first tentative steps as an author.
Booktique is part of Starhub, a significant e-retailer in Singapore offering all manner of digital services. The Booktique site is customised to local interests and is focussed on ebooks, not on selling other products. It sells in local currency and promotes local authors, but of course sells eboks from everywhere, and lis ikely to become a significant player in the country.
One of the reasons many small ebook stores struggle, or even fail (Singapore has seen two ebook store go under this year) is because of pricing. As Starhub explained, they set their prices based on what their suppliers set. Because US and UK publisher and distributors tend to set US and UK rates wihtout talking into account local sensibilites (not always – see below on Flipkart in india) it means ebooks can be very expensive by local standards.
But this is where the indie author, having found a route into these stores, can play to win. Indies can seriously undercut trad-pubbed titles and as and when you are discovered in these nascent markets then good quality material and savvy pricing will give you the edge.
Savvy indie authors will get to know local markets and local conditions and play the game accordingly. A $2.99 ebook may be an absolute bargain in the US, but in India that is a week’s food money for many families. Singapore is no Third World country, but a bargain is a bargain, and a $2.99 ebook on Booktique will be snapped up once it gets noticed.
Getting noticed in these far flung exotic lands is of course where we come in with our ever-expanding fleet of international promo newsletters. Be patient. Subscribers don’t grow on trees! But the trend is definitelu up!
It’s just a matter of time before we see the first truly international indie best-selling authors. Will you be one of them?
China – OverDrive lead the way
Needless to say our international newsletters cover all the SE Asia countries mentioned, and while there’s only a handful of subscribers for them right now, that list will soon grow, along with these exciting nascent markets.
And remember, our SE Asia newsletter also covers China.
Ebooks in China? Actually the Chinese ebook market is already far bigger than you can possibly imagine, but of course it’s all in Chinese, so pretty much ignored by the West. Until now.
Last month the wholesaler distributor OverDrive signed a game-changing agreement with the Chinese authorities that means at some time in the not too distant future the entire OverDrive catalogue will be available to Chinese readers. Even though China “only” has ten million English-speakers it is a market potentially lucrative beyond your wildest dreams. The English-language books that make an impact there will soon get picked up for translation by local publishers, to be put out before more prospective readers than you could ever count.
Promoting your B&N titles in the UK
It may not seem like it from your sales data in NookPress, but B&N’s launch in the UK has not been a total failure. As we reported last newsletter, when they ran a sale on the Nook devices in the UK demand exceeded supply beyod their wildest expectations. So many people were turned away empty-handed Nook were reprimanded by the UK’s advertising regulators for misleading the public saying the discounted device was available!
If you are one of those indies that has to tweet and FB a promo twenty times before breakfast then chances are you’ve tried a few aimed at B&N customers in the UK.
But here’s the thing – unless they’ve been to America and managed to step outsdie the Disney theme parks for more than five minutes then unless they are indie authors most Brits won’t have a clue what B&N or Barnes & Noble is.
B&N is an unknown brand here, as witness the Nook UK store, which is called simply Nook. You’ll have to scrutinise the small print to find any reference at all to B&N.
So when next you decide to honour the Brits with a tweet or an FB promo link (it does happen! and we do appreciate it!) remember, it’s just Nook, or Nook UK.
Smashwords beats Kobo to India
In the second-most populated country on the planet, great news for indie authors with the announcement by Mark Coker at Smashwords that they are sending their titles to the Indian online giant Flipkart. In fact the first Smashwords titles have just started appearing in the past few days. If you are in the Smashwords premium catalogue then check out the Flipkart site.
One of the great urban myths of the indie movement is that trad publishers were all going to go bankrupt because they had their heads in the sand and were in denial about digital. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Amazon have been selling Kindles since 2007. KDP only opened in 2009. Whose ebooks do you think were Amazon selling? And of course trad-pubbed titles continue to dominate the charts.
And right now the trad publishers are raking in untold profits from the new digital opportunities around the globe. Often by playing to local sensibilities and innovative marketing.
Check out the above image, taken from the Flipkart ebook site. Never mind Kindle Singles, HarperCollins have their own Harper Singles in India, selling at just 21 rupees (about $0.30). At the time of writing this report they are not available on Amazon India.
Indian ebook lovers by the way have several ebook retailers to choose from. Not just Flipkart and Amazon India, but Infibeam, Pothi and a new start up just launched in the last few weeks, BookMate, run by the mobile phone operator Aircel. Oh, and that GooglePlay outfit are there too. No Apple iBooks in india as yet, but no doubt that will come too.
More significantly, the Kobo India store is now imminent. No details yet, but we expect Kobo India to be game-changer.
Why? Because Kobo takes a different approach from the other international stores in the way it engages with each country. It’s not clear yet what the Kobo India partnership arrangements will be, but Kobo has a great way of taking account of local sensibilities and blending in, rather than just bringing a big foreign (ie American) store to the scene with some local window-dressing. The Kobo Philppines store (see above) is a fine example.
Another reason we expect Kobo to do better than Amazon India is pricing. India is a developing country and for many, buying ebooks on their $35 tablet (yes, seriously) paying out several dollars for your ebook may be asking too much.
Amazon’s restricted pricing (all countries at 35% or all at 70% royalty) means you can’t set your Indian ebooks at 99c and still ask 2.99 elsewhere. Which is particularly unfair given Amazon India only pay 35% anyway, unless you’re in Select.
Savvy pricing globally is going to be one of the cornerstones of your future international success. A one-size-fits-all approach will limit your propspects. We are hoping to have Mark Coker discuss with us how Smashwords users can play the pricing game as Smashwords increases its international reach. More on that in the near future.
Self-Pubbing in India
For the more adventurous among you, Indian ebook retailer Pothi has a self-pub portal. It’s not quite as sophisticated as KDP, KWL or NookPress, but it gets the jobs done, and is an excellent way of putting out free ebooks in India to gain traction in the marketplace. And they pay 75% royalties if you get a sale!
As above, Smashwords is now distributing to Flipkart, but Flipkart will be launching their own self-pub portal in the near future.
At this stage the only way for indies to get into Infibeam seems to be the wholesale distributor catalogues like OverDrive, Gardners and Ingrams.
Kobo updates KWL dashboard – Free downloads now recorded
Kobo has now updated its dashboard (KWL – if you’re in Kobo through Smashwords or D2D then it’s not clear yet what data you will have) so you can monitor free downloads.
Promoting your Kobo titles in the UK
As with B&N’s Nook (see Marketing Tip, above) so with Kobo. The Kobo international store sells in US dollars. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but we Brits use British pounds. And most Brits have no idea what Kobo is, any more than they do Barnes & Noble.
But ask a Brit where the nearets W H Smith is and they’ll be able to take you there in person, blindfolded. W H Smith is a British institution. It’s also the second biggest book seller in the UK after Waterstone’s.
W H Smith have recently revamped their ebook store. W H Smith ebooks are growing fast. And because of the Richard & Judy Book Club (more on that in a future post) it will grow even faster as we hit 2014.
W H Smith ebooks is the key Kobo partner store in the UK. It sells Kobo devices and epub ebooks, which means anyone except owners of a basic Kindle (mobi only) might shop there.
When you promo your UK titles say W H Smith, not Kobo.
And whether you go direct to Kobo through KWL or use Smashwords or D2D to upload to Kobo, do give them penty of time to adjust their prices when you run a coordinated promo across all platforms.
One thing we’re commonly seeing in the EBUK newsletters is a 77p ($ 0.99) promo on Amazon and Apple and Nook UK but the W H Smith price still at £2.99 or whatever.
Smashwords subscription ebooks
It seems there’s no escape from Mark Coker and Smashwords this time round.
This past month Smashwords announced their agreement to get in indie titles in the new ebook subscription service Oyster. It’s an exciting development, but Oyster are only working with Apple iBooks at the moment, so it has some limitations.
But this is great, right? Subscription ebooks? Once again the USA leads the way!
Except… the Europeans have been doing it for years. Spain and Germany have had ebook subscription services for quite a while. Denmark has two –Riidr and Mofibo. In Brazil no less than three subscription ebook services will shortly be available, from Vivo, Claro and Oi.
But the US is catching up. See below for news on Scribd.
Smashwords goes to Berlin
Before we leave Smashwords, a final item on what Mark Coker has been up to.
We have wind of another big announcement, that Mark Coker has yet to make public. It seems Smashwords have a deal with the Berlin-based ebook retailer ‘txtr. We don’t have a timetable for this, so keep an eye on the Smashwords blog for the official statement in due course.
And watch out for ‘txtr’s own self-pub portal to be launched in the not too distant future!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Meet the Retailers
With forty million English-speakers, Germany is not an ebook market to be ignored. But as we all have our titles in the Amazon Germany store we’re sorted, right?
Well, no question the German Zon store is an essential place to be, but it’s just one of myriad places where Germans can buy ebooks. The biggest ebook store in Germany is Kobo, but of course readers can also buy from Apple Germany, GooglePlay Germany, Sony Germany and “local” stores like ‘txtr, Thalia and Bucher, to name but a few.
Bucher is not supplied by Smashwords, so you’ll need an aggregator with links to the wholesale distributors (Ingrams, Gardners, OverDrive, etc) to be listed there, but whether you’re at that stage where you’re looking to expand your reach, or just starting out, it’s worth getting to know the small retailers.
Bucher may be meaningless to you guys in the US or UK or Australia or wherever, but if you’re in Germany it’s likely to be one of your first ports of call when looking for ebooks or e-readers. And for us indies it’s very worthwhile checking out these stores to see what e-readers they are supporting.
Bucher sells epub ebooks, so anyone with a basic Kindle e-reader is going to be out of luck here (the mobi lock-in is a double-edged sword). But Kobo, Sony and other epub readers are fine. Nooks will be too, but as B&N have yet to launch their international roll-out (don’t give up hope – it may yet happen!) there aren’t many Nooks in Europe just now.
But there are other options. Outrageous as it may seem, many Europeans (and elsehwre!) don’t use a Kindle, Nook, Kobo or even a Sony device for their ereading pleasure. There are a ton of “local” devices to choose from.
The link here is to the Tolino Shine, which at 99 euros is considerably more expensive than the basic Kindle (currently on special at 49 euros on Zon Germany) but a lot cheaper than the Kindle PaperWhite.
Which is best? That’s neither here nor there. Unless you’re a tech-nerd and anally retentive about specs you buy an ereader based on three simple factors – does it do the job, is it available, and it is a reasonable price? So safe to assume a lot of Germans (and other Europeans) are using a Tolino. Which means they won’t be buying from Amazon Germany simply because of the mobi lock-in, but they could be buying from pretty much any other ebook retailer in Germany.
How many German ebook stores are your titles in?
Promoting your Sony titles in the UK
If you’ve been scrutinising your sales reports from D2D and Smashwords you may be wondering why you haven’t had any sales from the Sony Reader Store UK.
The most likely reason is because you are not there.
Check out the UK, Germany and Austria sites.. It seems that D2D and Smashwprds can only get you into the US and Canadian Sony Reader Stores. If anyone is in the other Sony stores and is using Smashwords or D2D do let us know.
And if anyone from D2D or Smashwords is reading this, do let us know the official position on if you can get titles into all the Sony stores.
f you are in the catalogues of the wholesale distributos like OverDrive, Gardners and Ingrams you may be there already.
Meanwhile, don’t write off Sony just because they aren’t bringing rewards from North American sales. As with Kobo and GooglePlay, North America is not their primary focus. But if you’re not with Sony elsewhere you could be missing out.
Sony have international brand recognition the other retailers can only dream of. As we’ll be reporting next newsletter, Sony and rival Samsung are playing the long game, and might just surprise you all!
Hudl up! Tesco’s time has come
Last newsletter we mentioned supermarket giant Tesco in the UK, saying their own-brand tablet would be going live in the near future. It’s now live, and selling very well. And getting surprisingly good reviews for a budget tablet.
The Hudl, as it is known (Dead Poets Society fans will understand) will be followed by the official launch of BlinkBox Books as part of the Tesco digital entertainment hub. Blnkbox is already the dafault film and music option on the Hudl. It’s going to be a game-changer in the UK market.
Ironically Tesco have had an ebook store for a couple of years now, and truth is it was dreadful. It was fed by the Gardners catalogue, so had a great range of titles, but saw no action because a) almost no-one knew the store existed and b) and those who did would take one look and go somewhere else. It was that bad.
But Tesco were just biding their time as they put together a joined-up digital strategy to take on a rival operator encroaching on their territory. No, not Sainsbury, who are another UK supermarket giant with a great ebook store. Tesco has its sights set firmly on Amazon UK.
More on Tesco in the very near future.
Guerrilla tactics and cereal killers at Sainsbury
While supermarket giant Tesco get their new act on the road, rival supermarket Sainsbury are already playing hardball. Sainsbury have one of the snazziest ebook sites around, and since their launch earlier this year have been eating into Amazon’s market share with their instore roadshow and TV advertising, making sure the many millions of loyal Sainsbury customers know they now sell ebooks. They’ve even been giving away triple nectar points with every download!
But their latest trick show just how versatile they can be, and why they are going places.
Fed up with being price-matched by Amazon with their promotions they’ve resorted to guerrilla tactics, with one-day specials, selling BIG names at LOW prices – just 99p – for just 24 hours. By the time Amazon’s price-match engines get wind of the deal it’s all over and new titles are being discounted. Registered users of Sainsbury ebooks get daily email updates with the latest offers, and be asured there are some seriously good deals on offer.
Amazon UK is now price matching Sainsbury – albeit after the Sainsbury deal has finished – a sure sign Amazon UK see Sainsbury as a threat.
It should do. The supermarkets can go places Amazon can’t go and do things Amazon can’t do. For example, Sainsbury is currently advertising top name ebooks on their own-brand products like cereals.
But that’s just the beginning. Looking into the EBUK crystal ball we see barcodes on the side of your cornflake box or ketchup bottle that you just scan with your smartphone or tablet and up comes the opening chapters for you to read over breakfast. And it you decide to click buy you’ll get some money-off coupons for you next cereal purchase and who knows what other enticements.
There’s no Sainsbury own-brand ereader or tablet yet, but you can safely bet your next years’ royalties there will be soon.
What we are seeing here is the first stages of a market fragmentation that is going to shake down the UK market and rapidly spread across the globe. Amazon UK is always going to be big player on the UK scene, but the days of its near-monopoly domination are well and truly numbered.
But don’t worry. Luckily the ebook pie just gets bigger and bigger, so while Amazon UK will see market-share plummet, its actual ebook sales will continue to rise.
And to you Americans thinking, “Yeah, it will never happen here,” think again. It can and it will.
Market fragmentation has already seen Amazon’s share of the Australian ebook market plummet from 90% to 60% even as actual ebook sales contiue to rise for all platforms.
In the US a similar pattern is already well established. From 90% market-share not so long ago to maybe 70% now. The frgamentation will accelerate as we head into 2014.
As you’ll see below, retailers that have no right even thinking about selling an ebook are opening ebook stores and selling ebooks. Big W and JB Hi-Fi in Australia are examples. Walmart, Costco and Target ebook stores are just a matter of time. If Staples isn’t considering an ebook store too we’d be very, very surprised.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Indies for indies
Of course it’s not just in the UK and Australia where supermarkets and other high street retailers are jumping on the ebook bandwagon.
As said above, expect Walmart, Costco and Target ebooks stores in the not too distant future as the staid US ebook market you thought was set in stone fragments.
And there you were thinking it was B&N and all the indie booksellers who were supposedly fragmenting.
In fact print is holding out well and stores everywhere from America’s B&N to Britain’s Waterstone’s (which expects to be back in profit next year after some seriously hard times) to the National Book Store in the Philippines are looking forward to a bright future. And so are the small indie bookstores.
Indie bookstores are thriving everywhere, and far from eschewing ebooks they are embracing them. Subscribers to our US newsletter will know we regularly feature an indie ebook store. All this week it’s Redbery in Cable, Wisconsin. We’ll be featuring another store from Sunday.
Redbery have just one store in town. And one ebook store, But they have several million ebooks to choose from. No, they aren’t going to be putting Amazon out of business any time soon. But they are one more place where you can buy ebooks in the US.
Who would bother? Well, for starters the loyal clientele that have stuck by Redbery so far rather than rush off to buy from a big chain store like B&N or an online discounter like Amazon. Many of these customers will make the transition to digital, but they will stay loyal to their local store. They will buy the ereader or tablet their local store sell too.
And if Redbery can do it, so can the other indie stores. In fact, they already are. Check out the indiebound site to see just how many indie stores across the USA – everywhere from Alaska to Alabama – now have their own ebook stores attached. Many also sell music downloads and even film downloads!
Strictly speaking they are Kobo satellite stores, as Kobo is the partner providing the supply. Which means if your ebooks are listed with Kobo then they will very likely be available in a local indie store near you (if you live in the US, of course). And these stores will also be selling the Kobo devices as part of the partnership deal.
The Berlin ebook retailer ‘txtr is also partnermng wth retailers and indie stores. The UK’s prestigious Foyles ebook store is a ‘txtr partner store. And lots of other outfits are offering ebook store set-up services.
There are already far, far more ebook stores out there than you would ever imagine. But this is just the beginning. And one more example of the market fragmentation that is accelerating across the globe.
Don’t get left behind in the new world.
Promoting your titles in Europe
One way to get discovered in Europe is to do the same kind of promotion you do for the US, but aimed at Europeans. A reader in France or Germany (or Portugal or Italy or Spain,) who sees your tweet or FB post about a title on Amazon US in US dollars may not automatically rush off to Kindle Germany/France/Italy/whatever to see if the offer is also available there, because as often as not titles available in the US are not available in Europe, or the promo is not on in Europe.
One of the reasons EBUK was started was because so many of the deals on BookBub, POI, etc, had us rushing to our UK retail sites only to be disappointed.So if you’re a serial promoter set aside some time to tweet an occasional Kindle Portugal or a Kindle Italy promo.
Remember most West European countries (and all the current Kindle Europe stores except the UK) use the euro. But don’t use the snazzy euro symbol. Use the universal euro lettering EUR, as many devices do not support all currency symbols and the message may appear as gobbedegook. Ditto for India – use Rs rather than the rupee symbol to be on the safe side. For Brazil use R$. For Mexico use the $ symbol.
And remember the euro countries and Latin America use a decimal comma rather than decimal point / full stop / period for the decimal marker, so its EUR 0,99 not EUR 0.99. The exception is Ireland, which uses the euro but uses the decimal point / full stop / period.
More on Ireland next newsletter. It may surprise you!
Czech this out
EBUK is focussed not on the international ebook market per se, but on the English-language international ebook market. And as you’ll see below, it’s far bigger than you might have imagined.
This report from the Czech Republic’s leading English-language journal (yes, read that twice – and make sure it sinks in) Prague Daily Monitor reports a MASSIVE increase in ebook take up this year.
Okay, the real numbers are pitiful compared to the US or UK right now, but what matters is the trend. Ebooks are on the up and up EVERYWHERE. No country is immune to the charm of ebooks. Every country in the world has readers who may soon be reading YOUR titles – IF you are available.
Yes, they do speak Czech in the Czech Republic. These foreigners are just so inconsiderate! But as the Prague Daily Monitor clearly shows, English is also widely spoken.
The key Czech stores for indies are Apple iBooks and GooglePlay right now, with localized stores. Czechs can also buy from the Kobo international store. Amazon surcharges Czech readers so don’t expect too many Zon sales from AmCom.
We’ll be looking into how to get into the local European stores over the coming months. (It will take months because there are so many of them!)
Scribd subscription ebooks
One of the things we are encouraging at EBUK is listings for Scribd.
Chances are you’ve never heard of Scribd. Time to wake up and smell the coffee!
We mentioned Oyster and subscription ebooks above. But now Scribd has joined the game. Scribd has just signed up the entire HarperCollins catalogue for its new subscription service. Yep, Scribd is now offering unlimited ebook reading for just $8.99 a month. And you can get your titles up alongside.
Yes, we hear you. Another waste of time outlet with no future. Whoever heard of Scribd anyway?
Well, not most indies, it seems. We’ve had precisely TWO authors submit listing ads with Scribd links. And of course you’re thinking “Quite right too. If us indies don’t know what Scribd is then readers won’t either. Waste. Of. Time. Next item, please.”
But hold on. What if we said Scribd has been running for six years and has… wait for it… EIGHTY MILLION unique visitors? No, not a year. A MONTH!
If you’re not available on Scribd you’re missing out on reaching a massive readership that probably doesn’t hang around on the big retailer sites anyway.
EBUK on the Anne R. Allen blog
A week or so ago we were privileged to be offered a guest post on the prestigious Anne R. Allen blog, where we ran some facts and figures about the international market that left a lot of people gasping for air.
If you’re not a regular at Anne’s blog then you should be. NY Times best-selling author Ruth Harris also runs a regular post there. Not to be missed!
Anne’s latest (at the time of writing this) post – The Laws of the (Amazon) Jungle is essential reading for all.
And when you’ve read that you can go back a week and see the EBUK post. Or maybe you’ll setle for the summary that follows, largely taken from the post we ran over at Anne’s, but with some key updates and extra stats.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Ebooks down under
Australia has led the way with ebook sales. You’ve probably never heard of ebooks.com but they’ve been selling ebooks literally since the last century – they launched in 1997, ten years before Amazon introduced the Kindle – and are still going strong.
You shrug. So Australia has two ebook retailers?
And the rest. In fact Amazon is estimated to have just over a 60% market share in Australia, which means four out of ten readers are shopping elsewhere.
Some of you may be familiar with Angus & Robertson, Bookworld and Collins, all supplied by Kobo. What you probably won’t know is that Australians can also buy ebooks from Booktopia, Dymocks, QBD, Fishpond and a host of others, including a new start-up just this month called Big W and another recent start-up, JB Hi-Fi.
Then of course there’s the Apple iTunes Australia store and the GooglePlay Australia store. And not forgetting the Sony Australia Reader Store. Even the German ebook retailer ‘txtr has an ebook store in Australia.
All these stores are selling ebooks to Australians in Australian dollars. Well, all except Amazon. They haven’t got a local store yet. There are suggestions that might change – it certainly would be to Amazon’s advantage to do so.
One of the reasons Amazon is seeing its market share plummet is simple patriotism. As a US-based seller selling ebooks from the US, Amazon pays no local taxes and creates no local jobs. Ebook retailers like Big W and Pages & Pages are making sure everybody knows it.
We mentioned above that many readers prefer to buy “local” devices. The aforementioned Sydney bookstore Pages & Pages has been tempting patriotic Aussies to trade in their Kindle for AU$50 and buy a BeBook ereader instead. And for every AU$50 you spend on books or ebooks in a month in their store you get a AU$5 discount the following month.
Don’t for one second under-estimate the niche marketing power of indie bookstores as they turn digital, be they in Australia, the UK’ the USA or anywhere esle. Just make sure your titless are in their stores!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Meet the Retailers
We talked about marker fragmentation above, as retailers that aren’t obvious candidates for an ebook store just go ahead and open one anyway.
Big W got some intresting media coverage when it launched its ebook store in Australia last month. Big W has no previous connection with books.
But another Australian retailer was already ahead of the game. JB Hi-Fi had already made the leap of faith with the JB Hi-Fi ebook store.
It’s not going to bring anyone masses of sales, of course, but indie titles distributing through one or other of the wholesalers (Gardners, OverDrive, Ingrams, etc) can get in and maybe strike it lucky.
If you’re with D2D or Smashwords stores like this will likely be off-limits for the forseeable future, but you should still be aware of them, and aspire to get in them. As market fragmentation takes hold through 2014-15 these small stores will play a small but increasingly important role.
Okay, so you only get a handful of sales across a whole year. Add up those handfuls of sales across all these tiny platforms, which are now breeding like rabbits, and those numbers will soon mount up.
Don’t miss out by not being in.
Large fries with your ebook, Sir?
Twenty million print books will be given away over the next twelve months by hamburger giant McDonald’s as part of a Happy Meal literacy programme.
And – bear in mind discusion about marrket fregmentation above – they also launch their first ebooks, jointly published with children’s book specialist DK.
There are just four ebook titles so start with, and you may well laugh, but Macdonald’s are no stranger to print books, and you can bet your last cheeseburger this is just the beginning of something far, far bigger.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
As we all know, there are two ebook stores in the Netherlands. Amazon and… Hmmm. Do Apple have an iBooks store there?
Well yes, they do. But Amazon, surprisingly, doesn’t. There are indications an Amazon Netherlands store might be on the cards. Until then Dutch readers face those Amazon surcharges. Which is a shame. Many people in the Netherlands speak English fluently and love to read English books. There’s a bookstore in Amsterdam called The English Book Shop. You’l never guess what it sells…
Meanwhile the Dutch digital reader will just have to buy from Apple. Or the Dutch language Kobo store, or GooglePlay Netherlands or ‘txtr Netherlands. And that’s before we start on the local competition.
Local Dutch ebooks stores? Let us break it to you gently: The Dutch retailer Bol has been busily selling ebooks in Holland since 2009, the same year Amazon launched KDP in the USA!
You might now just be coming around to the idea that Europe is an untapped ebook goldmine. Well, GooglePlay are just slightly ahead of you.
GooglePlay already had ebook stores in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, France, Spain and Italy as of July this year. Oh, and also Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, South Korea and Russia. Pretty impressive.
Then across the summer they rolled out additional ebook stores in the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Greece, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania. Then another nine across SE Asia in September (as mentioned above). That’s thirty-six ebook stores around the world. So far. And counting…
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The world of ‘txtr
Then there’s that bizarrely named ‘txtr (no capital, the apostrophe is compulsory, and despite the lack of vowels they are German, not Welsh) which has no less than seventeen ebook stores around the globe. Mostly in Europe, including a ‘txtr UK store, but also in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and America.
‘Txtr in the USA? Well that’s a non-runner. A foreign Johnny like ‘txtr hasn’t a hope in hell of breaking into the US market, right?
Don’t be too sure – ‘txtr has some big surprises lined up. More on this in future newsletters. For now just bear in mind the discussion about market fragmentation above.
And yes, ‘txtr also have their own-brand e-reader.
South African readers who don’t want to buy from ‘txtr (so far as we know the ‘txtr ereader isn’t available in South Africa yet) can instead go to their local Kalahari store, where they might choose to read on the local Gobii e-reader rather than a Kindle or the Kobo devices sold nationwide by South Africa’s biggest supermarket chain Pick-N-Pay.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
What’s the English for Latin America?
Nor is it just Europe, South Africa and Down Under that have been busily enjoying ebooks on the sly while indie authors have been looking the other way. Over in Latin America you’ll be surprised (or maybe not by now) to learn they don’t just have the Amazon Brazil and Amazon Mexico stores to buy from.
You’ve probably never heard of BajaLibros, even though they have the third largest Spanish language ebook store in the United States, but they’ve been selling ebooks in Argentina since 2010, the same year the Kindle arrived in the UK. They produce their own ereaders which, along with their ebooks, are sold across Latin America and also in Spain.
Wonderful as it was to see the Kindle store arrive in Brazil, and more recently Mexico, the truth is Latinos were buying ebooks long before. BajalLibros has stores in Brazil, Mexico, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, not to mention Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. BajaLibros of course produce their own ereaders too.
Argentina was the UNESCO Book Capital in 2011, and earlier this year managed to cram over one million visitors into the Buenos Aries Book Fair, so let’s be in no doubt Argentines like reading. But don’t go thinking BajaLibros is the only ebook show in town.
Grammata have also been selling ebook and ereaders in Argentina since 2010, and are now pretty much everywhere where Spanish is spoken. Eveywhere from Colonmbia to Spain! And if you don’t fancy buying from Grammata, pop along to Movistar (started 2011, has own ereader) or try Amabook. Amabook too has ebook stores across Latin America, as well as in the US! And it too beat Amazon to Mexico.
Apple was the first of the international ebook brigade to get into Brazil, in 2012. A few months later Amazon, Kobo and GooglePlay joined them, bizarrely all on the same day! They are about to clock up their first anniversary this Deemeber.
And of course Brazilians are eternally grateful for their arrival. Before that you couldn’t buy an ebook in Brazil for love nor money.
Unless you happened to be a customer at Gato Sabido, of course. Gato Sabido have been selling ebooks in Brazil since 2009, the same year KDP launched in the US.
And if Brazilians don’t fancy Gato Sabido they can get their ebooks from Brazilian media giant Grap Abril’s IBA ebook store. Or the online retail giant and wonderfully named Submarino (the Amazon of Brazil). Or maybe, being book lovers, they’ll stick with Saraiva, the biggest Brazilian bricks and mortar book retailer, which also sells ebooks. And also has its own self-pub portal!
This is just the tip of the iceberg. An iceberg growing at a phenomenal rate.
The simple fact is, ebooks are being sold in places where ebooks have no right being sold, on six of the seven continents. There’s even an ebook store in Iceland!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Back to the Future: S.E. Asia
In Thailand Kobo is working hard to launch a Thai store, but meantime local retailer Ookbee has well over 80% of the market. Ookbee already has a three million strong customer base and is currently picking up new customers at the rate of 6,000 a day. Ookbee launched in Malaysia this summer, where it picked up 100,000 customers in its first two months. They are opening an ebook store in Vietnam where competition is already fierce – not just from GooglePlay which just launched there (and also in Thailand) and Malaysia – see above), but from local stores like Aleeza and Biitbook – Biitbook even has its own self-pub portal!
All very impressive, you say, but given no-one speaks English in these countries, (apart from India and the Philippines and Germany and the Czech Republic and the Netherlands as mentioned above) – clearly the exceptions that proves the rule – why bother? America is the biggest ebook market by far, and always will be. All this international stuff is just a sideshow, right?
In your dreams. Complacency now will cost you dearly down the road.
We all know how difficult it is to break into a mature ebook market. Most best-selling indies got in to either the US or the UK markets very early on. Very few have managed to do well in both. Missed opportunities.
Don’t turn your back on the international market without setting aside a few minutes to consider what follows.
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The New Renaissance
What is happening now is unprecedented in publishing history. The enormity of the changes occuring seem to be lost in even the most savvy old world commentators, and barely grasped by many supposedly at the forefront of the digital revolution.
What we are seeing is a New Renaissance emerging as tablets and smartphones make media – all media, not just ebooks – avaialable to the remotest corners of the planet.
In the old world, book distribution was physical. It was simply not viable to print and distribute English language books en masse even to countries like Australia or New Zealand, let alone Iceland or Indonesia, or Paraguay or Papua New Guinea. Digital changes all that.
Now anyone, from the top floor of a Manhattan skyscraper to a mud hut in the jungles of the Congo, could be reading your next ebook, be it on the latest riducously priced tablet or a cheap solar-powered smartphone.
Yes, we know. They don’t speak English in the Congo, so who cares?
Well us Brits might say the same about those in Manhattan. But actually there are lots of English-speakers in the Congo and all over Africa. And world wide, we’re talking telephone numbers!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Can you count to a billion?
Here’s some numbers for you. Make sure you’re sitting down.
There are about 150 million English-speakers in India, and while local languages books and ebooks are available, the ebook retailers’ sales report mostly English-language titles selling, and with increasing rapidity. Be under no illusion Indians love reading. In fact they topped the list of readers per capita last year. For retailers, see above.
With 150 million English speakers India is the second biggest English-language market after the US. Followed by the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, right?
Wrong. Next comes Pakistan, with 90 million English speakers, and then Nigeria with 80 million.
Let’s just pause there to reflect further. Because in just those three countries the number of English-speakers exceeds the entire population of the United States!
Nigeria: the final frontier
And if you’re thinking Nigeria is all mud huts and famine and its only the missionaries who will be buying your ebooks, think again. There are many poor countries in Africa, but Nigeria is not one of them. Nigeria even has its own space program!
Next newsletter we’ll explain why even the very poorest of countries are embracing digital and could soon be reading your ebooks. Meanwhile, back to the numbers game.
There are upwards of 75 million English speakers in the Philippines as we’ve mentioned already. Over 40 million English speakers in Germany. 30 million in Bangladesh. 30 million in Egypt. 25 million in France. 20 million in Italy. 17 million in Thailand. 15 million in the Netherlands. 15 million in South Africa. 12 million in Poland. 12 million in Turkey. 11 milion in Iraq. 10 million in Spain. 10 million in China.
Then there’s Brazil, Sweden, Kenya, Cameroon, Malaysia, Russia, Belgium, Israel, Zimbabwe, Romania, Austria and Greece, all with between 5 and 10 million English speakers each.
Dare we mention ten more countries with four million English speakers each before we start on the lower millions? After which we can add thirty more countries to the list each with over a million English speakers.
That’s quite apart from the UK (60m), Australia (20m), New Zealand (4m) and Canada (25m). A very conservative estimate puts the number of English-speakers outside the USA at around 850 million. If we include the USA then the number of English-speakers in the world clocks up at over one billion.
And that number will grow and grow because a) English is the lingua franca of business and commerce so everyone who wants to progress needs to speak it, and b) the same factors that will make your ebooks available in places unimaginable a few years ago will also make learning English that much easier.
English is the first choice of the educated and the aspirant classes across the globe. Speaking English among friends and colleagues is often a sign of status in non-English speaking countries. It’s also a pre-requisite for higher edcuation and decent employment across much of the globe. In many countries colleges and universities teach in English as their default language.
We indies brought up with English as our first language have an incredible advantage over authors in other countries who have not been so privileged. That’s not to say English is in anyway superior to any other language, simply that is is the most widely spoken. Yes, far more people speak Mandarin and Cantonese, but the Chinese languages wil never be international languages in the way English is.
Aside from the ability to write a good book English is your most valuable asset. Use it wisely!
FINAL FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Two roads diverge in the woods
Two roads diverge in the woods…
One sign says “Ebooks: This way for the US and the UK.”
The other says “Ebooks: This way for the Rest of the World.”
Do you choose the brightly lit, nicely sign-posted, well-trodden path with sat-nav so you know exactly where you want to go, but just can’t seem to get there because of the crowds?
Or do you take the road less travelled by that will make all the difference?
Here’s the thing. You don’t have to choose. You can do both!
At Ebook Bargains UK we’re here to help show you the way, to shine some light in those quirky corners of the world where you never knew ebooks existed, and to put up some signs to show you how to get where you need to be.
If you found this newsletter / blog helpful do forward it to a friend and share the benefits. If you found anything erroneous or have any questions, leave a comment below.
EBUK is just a few months old and run on a shoestring budget as we gradually build our advertising revenue from the daily international newsletters. That might be a slow process, as we are targetting nascent markets, so bear with us as we gradually upgrade the webiste, newsletters, blog, etc.
Just a reminder: We are NOT an affiliate operation and do not get kick-backs from any retailer or other operator mentioned here or in the daily newsletters. The ONLY payments we receive are the advertising fees from authors and publishers for the ebook promotions in the daily newsletters.
While our focus is naturally on the daily promo newsletters, without which the rest is pointless, our aim is to be come an essential resource centre for anyone and everyone looking to embrace the blossoming global ebook market place.
For those of you who are already ahead of the game and selling in these exotic markets, we’d love to hear from you and maybe feature a guest post from you explaining how you did it and what results you are seeing (good or bad).
For those who want to help spread the word we’d love the opportunity to guest on your blogs and websites, and will credit you with some free listings to reward your time.
Thanks for reading this far. Now go make yourself a cuppa. You deserve it!
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