You’ve all heard of The Book Depository. No, they haven’t started to sell ebooks at last. Given they are an Amazon company it’s unlikely they ever will. The Kindle store is the only ebook shop Amazon needs.
But we end this month with a couple of interesting – and for many, quite unexpected – developments in the publishing world.
Reports from the Christmas / Holidays season suggest many indie book stores not only did well, but literally broke records for print sales as 2013 ended. Then earlier this month B&N’s annual report revealed print sales yet again delivered a not unsubstantial profit. In fact were it not for the Nook store draining its resources B&N would be looking pretty buoyant.
We’ll come back to Nook another time, as we remain optimistic about Nook’s long-term prospects. The doom and gloom merchants revelling in Nook’s misery right now (why is that so many indie blogs supposedly supporting indie authors and reader choice will go out of their way to kick a man while he’s down?) may yet have their hopes dashed by a change of fortune when Nook is sold on to an operator with the muscle to make it work.
B&N’s management themselves are very optimistic about the future of the Barnes & Noble stores, and see the sale of the Nook operation as their only hurdle to survival. Print, in their view, still has plenty of life left in it.
What’s this go to do with The Book Depository? Well, as we said above, it’s owned by Amazon, so whoever is in charge of it ought to know which way the wind is blowing for print, right?
Kieron Smith was The Book Depository’s Managing Director for five years. He left as recently as last November. Safe to presume he has a very good idea about the future of print. needless to say there was speculation when he left that he was deserting a sinking ship. That Amazon’s focus was now on ebooks and print would fade into oblivion.
Smith clearly thinks otherwise. This spring he launches a new, global online store called bestlittlebookshop.com. It kicks off simultaneously in four different languages – English, German, French and Arabic, and we expect more will follow.
No, there will be no ebooks in the new store. Smith is betting on print not just surviving globally, but thriving, alongside the continuing growth of ebooks, much as we’ve predicted will happen.
It’s not clear yet whether Smith’s store will stock indie PODs in the way The Book Depository does. Our guess is no, but hopefully we’ll be proven wrong on that.
Meanwhile a reminder to all indies that POD distribution made enormous leaps in 2013 and bizarrely your POD titles may now be available globally in even more stores than your ebooks are!
We say may, because if you are with CreateSpace you need to physically tick the Extended Distribution box to get your POD titles out into the wider world. No charge. Extended Distribution is now free from CreatreSpace, and far wider-reaching than when it was charged for.
Those using Ingram, Lulu, Bookbaby, Feed-A-Read or some other POD facilitator may need to check the websites to make sure they are getting into all the new channels. These are now standard, and free, but may need to be opted-in.
Imagine. Your print books available to readers across the world. As we kicked off 2013 it looked like POD would forever be nothing more than a means to get a “real” book in the hands of your great aunt Dorothy to prove you really have written one and it’s not just a picture on a screen. Now POD can be a firm part of your Go Global In 2014 strategy.
Yes, these PODs still have to be ordered and delivered, and that can take several weeks to some destinations as printing and shipping is still done from the USA or a couple of key European destinations (expect that to change soon) but the simple fact that your print titles are available in countries as improbable as Brazil, India, Pakistan or Paraguay dramatically increases your chances of being discovered.
If someone spots your POD title but doesn’t want to pay the price and delivery charge, or is just too impatient, there’s a good chance they might buy your ebook instead.
Of course, if you’re ebooks aren’t available…
Being there is half the battle.