The Scoop on Indonesia – Beauty Pageants and Ebooks


Whatever you may think of beauty pageants, the latest Miss Indonesia pageant is worth taking a look at.

No, not for the girls. If you want to see the winners follow the link, but here at EBUK we prefer to look at the bigger picture. And the bigger picture emerging in the Far East is one all indie authors should be keeping any eye on.

As we say here constantly, the English language is your greatest asset. It is the lingua franca of the world, and trad pub is raking in the cash from English language ebooks sales overseas. Not just in the obvious places like Australia and New Zealand, or in west Europe, but in places you might not expect, like Vietnam, or Indonesia.


When you think of Indonesia you probably think of tsunami disasters, Muslim extremists or an impoverished, backward country whose only contact with the outside world is the luxury holiday hotels on those beautiful beaches, where a handful of rich westerners will never leave the poolside to see the wonderful country beyond.

The reality is rather different. Indonesia is one of the emerging powerhouses of the Far East. Not only does Indonesia have its own off-and-on space programme, but huge investments are being made in Indonesia’s digital future and many Indonesian companies are leading the way in the conquest of cyberspace.

One sign of Indonesia’s obsession with the web is the Miss Indonesia pageant. While Maria Asteria Sastrayu Rahajeng took the key Miss Indonesia 2014 title, there were other crowns to be claimed. Jesslyn Anggasta Hardi is Miss Online; Siti Anida Lestari is Miss Chatting; and Olivia Pramaisella is Miss Social Media.

Miss Social Media? Seriously. Miss Social Media and Miss Chatting are new additions to the crowns available, but Miss Online has been about a few years now.

The new titles are sponsored by a Chinese outfit you’ve probably never heard of called Tencent who run a social media platform you’ve probably never heard of  called WeChat. Think of them as the Far East’s answer to Facebook. Only bigger, better, and far more ambitious. We’ll come back to WeChat another time. Store away the names Tencent and WeChat in the ebook toolbox. You’ll need them later.

For now, let’s stick with a social media platform we all know of. Facebook. Because bizarre though it may seem Indonesians have actually heard of Facebook too.

In fact, Indonesia is the third biggest Facebook country in the world. It’s growing at such a rate it is predicted it will knock the UK off the number two spot very soon.

And get this. Twenty-one per cent of Indonesian Facebook users conduct their FB business in English.


But let’s get back to Miss Indonesia.  First off, if you do chose to click on the link to see Miss Indonesia 2014 and Miss Social Media and the other co-winners you’ll find they could easily pass as participants in any western beauty pageant.

Divest yourself immediately of any stereotype notions you may have that all Muslim countries are clones of Afghanistan and run by the Taliban. The Far East nations are embracing western culture, not fighting it, and that includes ebooks.

Ebooks in Indonesia? Well, not from a certain American online giant, who prefers to block downloads to most of the Far East and surcharge the few it does allow to buy. Sorry, you won’t be making any inroads into the Indonesian and Far East markets if you’re in KDP Select, or relying on Amazon to make you an international bestseller.

Apple too has a very disappointing show of iBooks stores in the region. Which is a shame because Apple i-devices are widespread and hugely popular.

Kobo has a great partner store in the Philippines, and is planning to expand into Indonesia and across the region, but who knows when and if this will be carried through?

But western indies wanting to reach Indonesian readers need look no further than Google Play, the fastest-growing and most globally innovative of the big ebook retailers.

Google Play has an Indonesia ebooks store and a Vietnam ebook store and ebook stores in Singapore and Malaysia and… A full report on Google Play’s global strategy soon. Here just to say Google Play has forty-four dedicated international ebook stores and that could easily double this year.

And if you’re thinking Vietnam must be even further behind than Indonesia when it comes to the digital world then check out this eye-opening post on Vietnam from Tech-In-Asia. Vietnam has almost forty million internet users and twenty million of them are on Facebook!

So yes, Vietnam has ebook stores and even their own self-pub portals. But for today, let’s stick with Indonesia.

Most Indonesians will be reading on smartphones and phablets (tablets that double as phones) and while the numbers are still relatively low, the take-up is increasing rapidly. Not least because many Asian tech companies are now producing their own devices and selling them far cheaper than Samsung and Apple can afford to do.

You may never have heard of Smartfren or Mito or Evercoss, but then, most Indonesians have never heard of the KindleFire. But these names you’ve never heard of before and never will again are devices many Indonesians could be reading your ebooks on.

True, readers across Asia could download a Kindle app, but if Amazon is blocking ebook downloads or surcharging buyers, or offering a limited range of Amazon-centred payment options that cannot be used  by most of the world, the Kindle app is pretty irrelevant across much of the globe.

Which is where glocalizing global ebook players like Google Play have the advantage, and why, alongside Amazon and Apple and all the usual suspects, you should be making sure your ebooks are in the Google Play store.

Not, of course, that Indonesia is reliant on the rich west to get ebooks. There are plenty of local and regional ebook stores in Indonesia. No, you’ve never heard of them, but here’s the thing: You don’t live in Indonesia.

Hard though it is for us westerners to grasp, the rest of the world is not sitting back waiting for Jeff Bezos to grace their countries with a Kindle ebook store before they start thinking about digital reading.  Least of all in far-flung Indonesia.

While some may be using Google Play to get ebooks, others may be using US stores that don’t impose territorial restrictions on downloads and payments – stores like Smashwords or Diesel or Blio.

Or they may use the regional players like Thailand-based Ookbee or Malaysia-based e-Sentral.

But many more will be turning to domestic retailers like Scoop, BukuOn, BukuTablet, TokuBuko, Wayang Force and a host of others. And several of these have their own self-pub portals.

Click on the link above to Jakarta-based m-commerce ebook and e-magazine retailer Scoop and you’ll find that while there are local language titles available the actual site is in… English. We cannot overstate this point. If you write in English and are ignoring the global markets you are missing out!

No coincidence that the Indonesian company Scoop has already expanded into English-speaking countries like India, Malaysia and the Philippines, and is partnered with Thailand-based Ookbee to cover the rest of SE Asia.

We’re still investigating the options for western indies to get their titles into the domestic retailers, including Scoop and we’ll return to this subject in the near future with a full report.

For now, we leave you with this thought.

The ebook world is flat. People pretty much everywhere, in any country on the planet, are potential readers of your books. From the skyscrapers of Manhattan to mud-huts in Malawi, the biggest obstacle to you selling your ebooks all over the world is… you. Because you’re relying on a handful of insular retailers and not making your titles widely available.

As we’ll be showing in forthcoming posts, places even more unlikely than Indonesia and Vietnam are embracing ebooks. From the rainforests of Colombia or the pampas of Argentina to the wind-swept Sahara or the jungles of the Congo, people are reading ebooks .

But if they can’t find your ebooks they’ll just read some else’s titles instead. It’s your loss, not theirs.

Just how widely are your ebooks available?

It’s time to Go Global In 2014.


Retailer round-Up


  • Google Play can be accessed direct if you have the patience of a saint, or through the aggregator Ebook Partnership.
  • More on the domestic Indonesian retailers Scoop, BukuOn, BukuTablet, TokuBuko, Wayang Force and others soon.
  • Smashwords can be found at Smashwords.
  • Diesel can be accessed through Smashwords.
  • Blio can be accessed through Smashwords via Baker & Taylor.
  • E-Sentral can be accessed direct or through Bookbaby.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.



One response to “The Scoop on Indonesia – Beauty Pageants and Ebooks

  1. Pingback: Global Ebook News Round-Up | Ebook Bargains UK Blog

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