Global Ebook News Round-Up (You might want to be sitting down for some of this!)


OverDrive Shifts Up A Gear.

Coffee and Ebooks? It must be Brazil.

Trad Pub Trail Blazing Again.

Going To the Library With Your Kindle? Pick Up A Penguin.

~ ~ ~

OverDrive Shifts Up A Gear

We reported last week that six libraries had seen downloads of more than one million ebooks. This week further stats emerged.

During the first ten years of digital downloads being available through libraries, up to 2012, a total of 100,000,000 (yes, one hundred million!) ebooks and audiobooks, etc were downloaded through the distributor OverDrive.

In 2013 OverDrive library downloads in one year exceeded the total of the previous ten years. Another one hundred million plus items were downloaded from libraries just in 2013, just through OverDrive.

How many were your ebooks?

Most likely none, because most indies don’t even know OverDrive exists, let alone that they could be in the OverDrive catalogue and be reaching millions of new readers.

And among those that have heard of OverDrive most dismiss it as a sideshow.


Time to think again. This is just library and school downloads through one distributor, OverDrive. There are plenty of others. As weve said many times, the wholesalers are THE place to be as we move to the next stage of the digital revolution.

Collectively the wholesaler catalogues combined global sales will eclipse the current big players in the not too distant future. As these figures from libraries clearly demonstrate, the wholesaler catalogues are no sideshow.

When you consider that by far the majority of libraries at this stage are only just beginning to take ebooks seriously then the real potential for distributors like OverDrive becomes clear.

And that’s before we get into actual sales. Because make no mistake, OverDrive is also selling ebooks in telephone numbers.

OverDrive is the supplier for myriad key ebook retailers. One example is Waterstone’s, the UK’s largest book store chain. No, Waterstone’s is not a big player compared to Amazon, but multiply those sales by the sales coming in through countless other OverDrive partner stores and those numbers soon mount up.

OverDrive haven’t issued sales stats for partner stores yet but they have revealed that views across the OverDrive powered partner stores in 2013 totalled 4.3 billion.

It’s important to understand that the scope of the wholesaler catalogues goes way beyond just delivering physical and digital content. OverDrive, Copia, Baker & Taylor, Ingram, Gardner’s and others are multifaceted in more ways than you can imagine, as we’ll be showing with dedicated posts exploring each one soon.

For now, just to stress that if you are not in the wholesaler catalogues you are going to miss out big time as they grow and grow in importance.

Last autumn OverDrive announced a groundbreaking deal to bring digital content to China. Apple is just about to launch big-time there with its hardware, but for westerners OverDrive will probably be the best hope of gaining content access to this humungous market.

Worth noting China is currently the world’s second largest ebook market, and could well take the number one spot this year. Worth adding it got there with no help from Amazon.

A report last week suggested Russia was the third largest ebook market. That’s probably a slight exaggeration right now, but no question the Russian ebook market is growing at a phenomenal rate. And while there will almost certainly be a Kindle Russia store later this year the current ebook growth in Russia again has nothing to do with Amazon.

Likewise those one hundred million downloads in schools and libraries last year through OverDrive has little to do with Amazon.

That’s not to say Amazon is not still the most important place to be for most author (don’t misconstrue anything here as anti-Amazon), but it should be increasingly clear that it’s time to stop partying like its 2009. Amazon is not the only show in town, and the other players are no sideshow.

And unlike Amazon the wholesalers have truly global reach.

And here’s the thing. You can stay in Amazon AND be in the wholesaler catalogues selling across the globe. It’s not either/or. No painful choices required!

There are fantastic opportunities out there for indies to make a mark in the burgeoning global markets right now. The goal is wide open, and the playing field is level. If you’re not planning on Going Global In 2014 it will be that much more difficult in 2015.

Coffee And Ebooks? It Must Be Brazil.

At the Digital Book World Conference in New York this week Jonathan Newell, head of Nielsen, pointed out that Brazil has the sixth largest economy in the world. That Brazilians are embracing the English language. And that books – and ebooks – are big business in Brazil.

And no, Amazon Brazil is not the only ebook retailer in Brazil. Google Play, Apple and Kobo are all there too. Kobo supplies the prestigious Livraria Cultura store. If your titles are with Kobo they should be there.

But amazingly Brazilians didn’t have to wait for the richer nations to bring them out of the stone-age. Ebooks have been around in Brazil for quite a while.

BajalLibros has been meeting ebook needs in Latin America since 2010, including Brazil.


Amazon has just two stores in the region. Apple only sells there in US dollars. Google Play has five stores there so far, with more on the way, but they are late entrants. BajalLibros has fifteen stores across the continent.

There’s plenty more. Copia is there in one it’s many manifestations. Check out the Submarino Digital Club is far more than just an ebook store. Powered by Copia.

An in-depth look at the exciting opportunities in Brazil soon.

Trad Pub Trail Blazing Again

Still not convinced you should Go Global In 2014? Ponder the following.

Those of you who read the indie blogs will be forgiven for thinking Trad Pub is even further out of the loop than us indies when it comes to ebooks going global. So here’s a quote from Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy.

Speaking at the Digital Book World conference in New York this week she said, “Simon & Schuster experienced its greatest growth in the international marketplace last year, particularly in digital titles in English language countries abroad.”

She added, “(Simon & Schuster’s) international eBook business is growing at a faster rate than US eBook sales… Last year (Simon & Schuster) sold eBooks in 200 different countries.”

Reidy went on, “(Simon & Schuster are) seeing an opportunity in these digital sales and that it is not affecting physical sales.” She said, “There is a great opportunity for foreign book retailers to sell English-language titles in non-English speaking countries.”

Ebook sales in 200 different countries? Show us the indie who can match that and we’ll show you a liar.

Trad pub goes from strength to strength in the global markets, and the single biggest reason they are doing so well is because they are there.

It’s not rocket science. If your titles aren’t available where the readers are then the readers will buy someone else’s books instead.

Carolyn Reidy (Simon & Schuster CEO, above) said they had even had an ebook sale in Antarctica. Which brings us full circle to OverDrive and why Amazon needs to fear them.

Going To the Library With Your Kindle? Pick Up A Penguin.

No, OverDrive don’t distribute to Antarctica. So what’s the connection? Penguins.

Or rather, Penguin ebooks. Because in their latest innovation, OverDrive have gained one over Amazon with an arrangement whereby library users in North America (both USA and Canada) can borrow Penguin ebooks from their local library and have them sent direct to their Kindles.

Previously Kindle users faced an obstacle course to get library books onto their Kindle devices. Given Penguin are now partnered with Random House we can safely assume Random House ebooks will soon be similarly enabled. Safe also to presume other publishers will follow suit.


It’s another hole in the crumbling edifice of Amazon Kindle’s walled garden. The Kindle lock-in is no longer a lock-out.

No need to sign up to Prime to get a whole one ebook loan a month from Amazon for your Kindle. Just pop along to your library and take your pick of Penguin’s range of titles.

OverDrive is one of the most innovative digital content providers around today. Along with Ingram, Copia, Gardner’s, Baker & Taylor, etc, the wholesaler catalogues are THE place to be in 2014/15.

Not to replace your Amazon sales. But to build on them. No exclusivity required.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.


8 responses to “Global Ebook News Round-Up (You might want to be sitting down for some of this!)

  1. While I appreciate all the information and advice, unfortunately many of the sites mentioned are places indie authors like myself can’t access, either at all or easily, much as we might wish to.
    I try to look at all sites mentioned in the hopes of getting my books on them but it seems as though many require you to be a publisher with huge book lists waiting to be added to their virtual shelves.
    Advice on how to get our books onto some of these sites would be gratefully received.


    • Karl, sorry. Came to these messages in reverse order, so covered the issue of access in the reply to Jean, below.

      It’s a common misconception among indies that most sites are a0 off limits to indies and b) not worth bothering with.

      In fact there are only a handful of sites which have strict no-indie-access rules. Three in the UK sadly – Sainsbury, Tesco Blinkbox and lately W H Smith are all off limits to indies. For now. We have been told by all three that this position is not set in stone.

      But more generally pretty much all ebook retail sites are accessible, if we indies are willing to go the extra mile and make the effort to engage.

      Sadly many indies, brought up with KDP and Smashwords, think the retailers owe them a living as should all have paint-by-number access for free. The real world isn’t like that.

      We mention a couple of options in the reply to Jean below. We will cover these in detail as we go.

      We are building up a database of retailers and aggregators as part of our Global Footprint project, which will be available on site as we build. The plan is to build the EBUK project as the number one place to come to regarding the international ebook scene, but it will take time. Meantime we’ll be in contact direct shortly to follow up on this at a personal level..

      The global ebook situation is changing by the day. Impossible to keep up with. Fatal to fall behind.

      Thanks for the feedback.

  2. OverDrive is available through Smashwords, I know–but is there another means to get to it, as well?

  3. Actually, my bad! Smashwords doesn’t distribute there. In the past, I’ve heard that OverDrive is excruciatingly hard to deal with to get ebooks entered–do you know any differently?

    • Jean, Smashwords only distribute to one of the wholesalers – Baker & Taylor. A very useful place to be, but one small piece of the jigsaw.

      The wholesalers do have options for indies to get direct access, but as you rightly say, it’s not easy to go direct. We hope to have some guest posts shortly from authors who have gone direct, who can share the pros and cons.

      There are other ways in. The aggregator Ebook Partnership can get your titles into OverDrive, Ingram, Gardners and Baker & Taylor, as well as a host of other venues. We’ll be running some posts on all the aggregators soon and hope to have Matt and Diane from Ebook Partnership here to talk us through just what they offer and more importantly what they will offer in the future.

      Ebook Partnership charge an upfront fee (just £40 per title per year if you have five or more titles) but then you get 100% of royalties. If you think you can earn $41 or more per title across all the platforms they can get you on then it’s a very good deal.

      Bookbaby can get you into Copia, eSentral and several sites duplicated by Smashwords,, D2D, Ebook Partnership, etc. Bookbaby now have a”free” option whereby you pay a percentage per sale. A great way to get into eSentral (across south east Asia) and Copia.

      There are other aggregators out there, and we’ll be looking at them all as we go.

      • I’ll be very interested in hearing what these folks have to say. I would be quite happy not to deal with Smashwords any more than I have to, if the reporting on the other sites is better, and especially if they’re less likely to play fast and loose with selling access to our books and telling us afterward. Thanks!
        Do you have an immediate sense for the difference in markets reached by Bookbaby vs. Ebook Partnership? You mention Bookbaby going into southeast Asia, but Ebookpartnership does not? I would love to know how these sites compare with each other and with Smashwords.
        Thank you!

  4. Pingback: Does Amazon Take Its Customers For Granted? | Ebook Bargains UK Blog

  5. Pingback: Is the Amazon Ebook Market Model Broken? | claudenougat

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