International ebook news to kick off 2014.
Libraries without books.
In Texas there’s a new bricks and mortar library that ONLY lends e-readers, ebooks and other digital downloads. Not a single print title.
Almost certainly the shape of things to come. Print still has plenty of life in it, of course, but all-digital libraries like these will become increasingly common across the globe, not just in the US.
Millions of digital downloads in libraries – how many will be yours?
Last year six libraries (five in US, one in Canada) reported having over one million ebook downloads. Expect the million to become millions, plural, and the five to become hundreds, maybe thousands, this year as more and more people discover e-reading.
Those of you in Smashwords may have opted for library distribution. If not, you really should. Libraries are great for discoverability. But Smashwords gets you into only a handful of libraries. If you want to hit the library scene globally you need to be in the catalogue of wholesalers like OverDrive.
A year ago the wholesaler catalogues were a sideshow for indies. But their reach is staggering, and globally they will collectively eclipse the big players like Amazon in the not-too-distant future. If you are not in all the wholesaler catalogues you are going to miss out on sales in a big way.
Wattpad grows and grows!
Many millions of people are reading on smartphone, tablets and phablets, and that number is set to grow astronomically this year and next. Over at Wattpad, one of the biggest reading platform in the world, latest figures show 85% of Wattpad users are accessing via a smartphone, tablet or phablet.
Wattpad won’t bring you direct sales, but as a tool for discoverability globally it is unrivalled. This from the latest release from Wattpad:
“Wattpad members spent an average of 30 minutes for each session that they engaged with the community. In 2013, writers added 20 million new stories and visitors spent 41 billion minutes spent on the site. More than 53 million connections were made on Wattpad in 2013 and these connections sparked over 300 million messages, comments and votes. The Wattpad community spent 87 million minutes each day reading and sharing stories from their phones and tablets last year. Readers also created more than 4.4 million story covers and YouTube trailers to support their favorite stories and writers on Wattpad.”
Impressive numbers. If you plan on Going Global in 2014 then make sure Wattpad is part of your strategy.
Market fragmentation again
Over on the Anne R. Allen blog on Sunday 12 January we’ll be looking at, among other things, the proliferation of tablets, phablets and smartphones from companies not automatically associated with ebooks,
What most indies don’t realise is that a lot of these low-end tablets come with default ebook stores and apps, like Blio and Versent. Or in the case of Acer they have their own Acer ebook store built in.
What Acer are doing now Toshiba and other manufacturers will be looking at too, and you know our predictions for Samsung and Sony. An ebook store – their ebook store – as default on every phone, tablet, computer and TV they make.
It WILL happen.
Take a look at the image above. If you read our post on Australian bookstores you’ll know that Dymocks is one of the key Australian ebooks stores most indies have never heard of. This ad shows how Dymocks were selling Acer tablets in their bookstores across Australia and said tablets were being sold with the Dymocks ebook store app pre-installed.
Were? In fact Dymocks has more recently partnered with Copia, as Acer now have their own ebook store pre-installed on their Acer tablets.
But there’s the thing. This ad is from May 2011. Yes, almost three years ago Dymocks, an Australian ebook store you’ve probably never heard of, was selling ebooks on a tablet you’ve probably never heard of. It’s a funny old world.
And speaking of funny old worlds, on the Anne R. Allen blog on Sunday we’ll be looking at a lot more tablets and ebook stores you’ve probably never heard of, including a tablet you’ve never heard of in India that is outselling all the competition – including the Kindle, the i-Pad and Samsung.
These obscure default stores on bnscure tablets may be small-fry compared to Amazon right now, and most will never be more than bit players individually, But collectively they are going to grow in importance as more and more people who have never e-read before find they can do so on their new tablet or smartphone without having to download apps or sign up to somewhere else. And they will probably quite happily stick to that default store for all their ebooks.
The scale of market fragmentation happening right now is just staggering.
Any individual outlet might just be bringing in pennies for an author, but collectively the potential income from retailers outside the Indie Comfort Zone of Amazon, Apple and B&N is going to make trad pub exceedingly rich. A few lucky indies will join them. You might be one of them. But not if your ebooks aren’t available.
Hungry for ebooks? They certainly are.
Over in eastern Europe, in sunny Hungary, you might be thinking ebooks have yet to arrive, but actually they are thriving.
Mostly Hungarian outlets, admittedly, but among places where you can upload your English-language books without knowing any Magyar are good old ‘txtr (eighteen stores globally), Google Play (forty-four stores globally) and Nook on their new Windows 8 platform roll-out.
But back to ‘txtr. Txtr has stores across Europe. They have just signed up with Hungary’s biggest mobile network, Magyar Telekom, and are giving away free’ txtr Beagle e-readers to selected customers.
The Magyar Telekom ebook store is powered by ‘txtr Hungary. And yes, you can get into seventeen of the eighteen ‘txtr stores through the wholesaler catalogues (curiously ‘txtr Canada seems not to like indies). Smashwords have a pending deal with ‘txtr, but it’s not official yet.
There are about 2 million English-speakers in Hungary, so not a market to dismiss lightly..
The ‘txtr beagle e-reader is also available to Hungarians to buy on a two-year monthly payment basis. This is an important point. The retail price is only 18,000 forints – about $80 – so spreading that over two years may seem ridiculous to us rich westerners. If you earn Hungarian wages it’s a lot of money…
But because ebooks are far cheaper than print books -ereading is taking off big time in the poorer, and even the poorest, parts of the world.
If anyone is excited enough to actually click on the ‘txtr Hungary link, go to bottom right of the page and you’ll see the menu for all the other ‘txtr countries.
Yes, ‘txtr have a US, a Canada, a South Africa, a New Zealand and an Australia store. Amazon only recently gave Australia a sub-domain store, and has now re-classified New Zealanders as Australians. Instead of buying in foreign US dollars New Zealanders can now buy in foreign Australian dollars.
‘Txtr spotted that Australia and New Zealand are actually two separate countries and there’s more than a ferry ride between them. In fact it’s a three hour flight! They are as far apart as London and Moscow. And use two different currencies.
‘Txtr are mainly focused on Europe – a region much neglected by Amazon. Your $2.99 ebook will cost a Hungarian $4.99 from Amazon. Stores like ‘txtr understand glocalization and have a Hungarian language store in Hungarian currency for Hungarians. And they don’t surcharge.
Viva Espana ebooks!
In Spain, just one of the many countries where Nook is now available to Windows 8 app users, readers are being offered free ebooks and magazines to get them started.
We’ll be covering Spain in-depth soon ,as it is an exciting new market for authors, but here just to reiterate the point about Nook. Nook is not dead, despite what many of the indie blogs are claiming. They’ve just rolled out on Windows 8 apps across vast tracts of Europe, and also Australia.
Nook is now the default e-reader store on new Microsoft tablets and smartphones, but that’s not all. Nook also are the default ebook store for at least one Samsung Galaxy device.
Don’t write off Nook just because some Kindle-obsessed blogs claim its game over for rivals B&N. Nook may well be sold off from B&N, but whoever buys it (our guess is Samsung or Microsoft) will take it to whole new levels.
Apple now have i-Gifting available for ebooks, music and films. Of course it’s only to other i-device users, but it’s another great tool for getting your ebooks out to other people.
At some stage (hopefully sooner rather than later) Apple are going to start taking ebooks seriously, and when they do things will get very interesting for authors.
We’ll be looking at Apple in detail soon, but here just to remind anyone not in the Apple catalogue that Apple pay 70% royalties across the board.
Although some of their 51 i-Books stores are public domain only, they do have significant international reach, especially in Europe and Latin America. There are millions and millions of Apple i-Devices out there that people could be reading your ebooks on. And you’ll get 70% royalties even if you list at 0.99.
For those not using an Apple Mac you can still get into Apple through Smashwords, D2, Bookbaby and other aggregators.
Finally, if you are in the USA you may dream about e-ink smartphones, but in some parts of Europe they are already a reality. E-ink smartphones are now on sale in France, Austria, Germany and Spain.
Sorry, guys, but when it comes to ebooks you Americans are often the last to know. Subscription ebooks, anyone?
In fact these new e-ink smartphones are dual-scree,n with both LED and e-ink displays. Cheap? No. Not at this stage. But the prices will come down, and availability will increase.
Over in Russia there is talk of a Kindle store and a Kobo store this year, so only fitting that Yota, the company leading the way with e-ink smartphone technology, is Russian.
More on the fast-growing Russian ebook market soon, comrades. But some indies are already there!
When in Rome, read as the Romans do. With an ebook from an Italian ebook store.
Last month was the Rome Book Fair. Not a major event like Turin, which is in the spring, and very little sign of ebooks – but don’t lose sight of the fact that there are indeed ebook stores in Italy.
Not just Amazon Italy and Apple Italy, but Google Play Italy, ‘txtr Italy and Nook (Windows 8) Italy for example.
We’ll be looking at Italy in detail soon, but here just to mention two key domestic players – Mondadori and La Feltrinelli – and one small one, Ultima.
No need to ask. Yes, indies can get in, with a bit of effort.
Ultima is a tiny player. La Feltrinelli and Mondadori are the giants of the Italian ebook world. There are lots more,
How many Italian ebook stores will you be in in 2014?
Make 2014 the year you go global. Dive in now and be a big fish in a small pond, and as the pond gets bigger you can grow with it.
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