Leading The Way – It’s The USA. Or Is It?


Leading The Way – It’s The USA. Or Is It?

As we all know the USA leads the way with ebook innovation. Except when it doesn’t.

While America is busily congratulating itself on inventing ebook subscription services that have already been around in the rest of the world for years (in Latin America Nuvem de Libros already has one million subscribers in Argentina and Brazil, and is set to roll out across more of the continent in 2014), Europe continues to innovate in ways to reach readers.

As long ago as 2012 Random House Mondadori were putting ebooks on trains in Spain. Settle in your seat, scan a code with your smartphone or tablet and get to start reading for free. The hope being the traveller will want to continue reading after the journey and buy the book.

That’s the same Spain that has actually had an ebook subscription service – 24 Symbols  –    up and running for several years now.

And if you’re thinking Random House sounds familiar, yes, Random House Mondadori is the Spanish arm of one of the Big 5 publishers we’re always being told don’t know what ebooks are.

For the record Random House Mondadori are now called Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial and Mondadori is now called Literatura Random House. Which at least avoids confusion with the Italian publisher and ebook retailer Mondadori, who are very indie friendly and have a great English-language section.

In Germany, meanwhile, its books on buses. In a new initiative called Time4Books the German publisher Piper Verlag lets bus travellers download excerpts from a rolling range of Piper Verlag’s own ebook titles.

And yes, that’s the same Germany that has had ebook subscription services through Skoobe for the past two years.

We’ll be returning to the exciting opportunities offered by subscription ebook services in the near future.

Poles Apart

In Poland publishers are making the most of Amazon’s myopic attitude towards central and eastern Europe (which is to either surcharge readers or block downloads completely). Despite there being no Kindle Poland store, and very limited availability of Kindle devices in the country, there are a large number of Kindles flooding in from the many Poles who have been living / working in western Europe and who return with Kindle devices and Kindle accounts, but no Polish Kindle content.

Innovative Polish publishers are busily producing local language ebooks in multiple formats including mobi, so Kindle users can read them on their Amazon devices without having to shop at Amazon and pay the surcharge.

As well as Apple, Google Play and ‘txtr, all of which somehow manage to have dedicated Poland ebook stores without the need to surcharge (Jeff Bezos, are you listening?) there are a ton of smaller domestic ebook outlets catering for the growing number of readers going digital in Poland.

Ad of course Poles can also buy from Smashwords, Diesel and other US stores with international payment options and no territorial restrictions.

There are at least ten million English-speakers in Poland who might want to read English-language ebooks, buy English language print books or listen to English language audio books.

How widely are your titles available?

Sugar-Frosted Ebooks. They’re Gr-r-r-reat!

As reported previously, in Britain kids can now read ebooks while they eat their breakfast, thanks to the innovative supermarket ebook store Sainsbury, who advertise children’s ebooks on the back of their own-brand cereal packets, complete with a QR code you just scan with your tablet or smartphone.

That’s the same Sainsbury ebook store that late last year ran a competition to win tea at Downton Abbey, had Amazon desperately playing catch-up price-matching one-day 99p sales of big name authors, and this week is offering double Nectar points on in-store supermarket shopping every time you spend £5 on ebooks in the Sainsbury ebook store online.

Expect more innovative moves from Sainsbury this year, along with fellow supermarket Tesco, which will be launching the long-awaited Blinkbox Books in the very near future.

Bricks & Clicks vs Clicks  & Lockers

Selling well on Amazon UK? Enjoy it while it lasts. It won’t last long.

There’s going to be an indie bloodbath this summer as two tribes go to war. Sainsbury and Tesco are both off limits to indies right now, but will be discounting big trad-pubbed names to ridiculously low prices.

Grab yourself a ringside seat for the battle of the decade. Never mind the Rumble in the Jungle. It’s going to be Bricks & Clicks vs Clicks & Lockers as Tesco and Sainsbury go head to head with Amazon UK. They’ll be taking no prisoners and indie authors will be the casualties as Amazon fights to hold its ground against the biggest threat Amazon UK has yet faced.

And for those of you across the pond shaking heads and telling each other it will never happen here, don’t be too complacent. Walmart will be watching every move here in the UK.

* * *

Retailer Round-Up

We’re regularly asked, in comments threads and directly, how an indie author actually gets into all these ebook stores we mention, so hereon we’ll be ending each post with a brief retailer round-up covering each outlet we reference in the main post.

If anyone has any additional information, or corrections, do let us know. And if you’re reading this long after the publication date, do check more recent posts for updated information.

Nuvem de Libros – off limits to indies right now, and Spanish-language only.

24 Symbols – No direct access for indie authors, but we are exploring ways of getting in through third parties. More on that soon.

 Mondadori – Italy’s biggest ebook store is thoughtfully supplied by Kobo. If you are in Kobo there’s a fifty-fifty chance you’ll be in the Mondadori book store. Sadly Kobo’s distribution right now is such a mess we can’t be more optimistic than that.

Skoobe – No obvious way into Skoobe for English-language indies at this stage, but Skoobe have plans for an English-language version targeting the US and UK. You can sign up for advance notification here.

Time4Books – no indie access in the Time4Books initiative as its Piper Verlag’s exclusive project, but our guess is wholesalers like OverDrive will be launching similar initiatives soon that indies may be able to take advantage of. .

Google Play Poland, Apple Poland and ‘txtr Poland – Getting into one Google Play store gets you into all, and the same goes for Apple and ‘txtr.

Google Play can be accessed direct if you are in a Google Play country, although the portal is not that user-friendly. Alternatively, try the aggregator Ebook Partnership. Google Play have 44 stores globally and an ambitious roll-out programme this year.

Apple can be accessed direct if you have the right Apple equipment, or through most aggregators, including Smashwords, D2D, Xin-Xii, Bookbaby and Ebook Partnership. Apple have 51 ebook stores globally.

‘Txtr can be accessed through the Gardners wholesale catalogues or through Ebook Partnership. There is a pending distribution deal between ‘txtr and Smashwords, but that’s not official yet. ‘Txtr have eighteen ebook stores globally and an ambitious but slow-to-progress expansion programme.

We’ll be running a guest feature shortly on how to get into Gardner’s direct.

 Amazon Poland – Just kidding. The chances of a Kindle Poland store are about as high as a Kindle Papua New Guinea store. That said, we’d love to be proved wrong. On both counts!

 Smashwords – direct access through the Smashwords site. Not the smoothest of rides but a great little platform to be on for global reach even if you are not using their partner stores.

Diesel – although a California-based indie store Diesel is also accessible globally and can send out your ebooks wherever a buyer desires. Accessible through Smashwords.

Sainsbury – sadly while Sainsbury is probably (no official stats yet – it only went live last year) the second biggest player in the UK it is completely off limits to indies, and likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Tesco Blinkbox – launching this spring, and no chance of any indies getting in here either. That may change, but not soon.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just a promotional newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.


3 responses to “Leading The Way – It’s The USA. Or Is It?

  1. Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been telling anyone who will listen to NOT put all your ebook eggs in one Amazon basket. Most don’t listen. They’re too afraid of losing the money they receive via Amazon and it’s KDP Select.

    Oh, and I checked Mondadori, and all four of my books are there via Smashwords. The prices are a bit cheaper than on Amazon, but I think that works to my advantage.

  2. Thanks, Dark Conteur,

    The idea that you will lose money by being more widely available is a crazy one, but one that sadly permeates indie thinking. And one that will backfire badly long term, not just internationally where Amazon’s impact is negligible outside a few key countries, but at home too.

    Congrats on being in Italy’s Mondadori A lot of indie authors don’t realise the reach Kobo has (or potentially has, if it gets its house back in order), and even fewer realise just how many other ebook outlets there are available to them, including on their own doorstep.

    Here in the UK we are constantly hearing surprise that major UK bookstores like Waterstone’s and Foyles also have ebook stores indies could be selling in. The same in the US where the bookseller Books A Million has an ebook store but there are only a handful of indies in the US who are in it.

    We’re about to launch our fifteenth regional newsletter – Ebook Bargains Middle East – and we’ll be running a series of posts on the blog titled Around The World In 15 Newsletters where we’ll be looking at the full range of retailers available in each country / region, and how indies can get in them.

  3. Thanks so much for the Retailer Roundup at the end of the post. You saved me a heap of time trying to figure out which outlets to investigate. Keep it up!

    I made it into Mondadori through Kobo, although I wouldn’t know that except for your mention of it in the post. I’ve discovered my books on several outlets you’ve mentioned, so I’m finding all the obscure shops that carry my titles through your posts.

    I’m one of those indies who’s in Books-a-Million via Ingram. Unfortunately, there’s a reason more indies don’t get on their site; their back-end service is atrocious. They regularly botch the product listings, don’t respond to requests to fix things, and don’t even provide a working phone number to reach someone. They make even the rockheaded author support offered by Nook look good.

    Can someone please tell me how to get to the Google Play author portal? I’ve been out there several times and can’t get much further than the catalog pages. Thanks in advance.

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