Advice To Indie Authors – Don’t Overlook Kobo.

Go Global In 2014

 Don’t Overlook Kobo?

Well we would say that, wouldn’t we. So why the headline?

Because actually it’s not ours. It’s a headline from the ever-unpredictable GoodEreader, which just two weeks ago was asking if Kobo and B&N should close their self-pub platforms because they were so utterly pointless.

That was Michael Kozlowski, who makes absolutely no secret of his utter disdain for us indies – as witness this tirade against self-publishers just six weeks ago when the Smashwords-OverDrive deal was made public. “OverDrive inundates libraries with 200,000 horrendous indie ebooks.

Mercy Pilkington on the other hand takes a more tolerant approach. So much so we’re repeating some of it here.

As Mercy says,

“…one of the unfortunate truths about self-publishing is that many authors make it as far as uploading to KDP, then don’t go any further…Mostly through a lack of awareness of other opportunities and difficulties authors faced in trying to create accounts on other sites, many indie ebooks simply languish alone on KDP.”

Both points are valid, although free-to-load/pay-as-you-sell aggregators like Smashwords and Draft 2 Digital make it pretty straight-forward to get into many other retailers.

The real issue is lack of awareness.

While Amazon’s KDP is a natural first port of call for any writer making their first foray into self-publishing, these same new writers will also tend to make their first port of call for industry knowledge the blogs of the self-appointed indie-spokesmen.

And that’s where the problem lies.

Because many of the self-appointed indie spokesmen and their blogs are closely aligned with Amazon and have little interest or incentive in letting their audience know about alternatives.

Some go out of their way to run negative stories about any competitor to Amazon (B&N and Nook come in for particularly harsh treatment), while performing acrobatics to make Amazon’s less-endearing side seem nothing but a PR ploy by those nasty trad-publishers.

Innocent newbies reading these blogs and the comments that go with them (and often seeing any contrary viewpoint denounced as a troll) will be left in no doubt that there’s only one show in town and they would be totally wasting their time with any other retailer.

No matter that in the real world 3,500 of every 10,000 ebooks sold in the US is happening on a retailer other than Amazon.

~ ~ ~

 For indie authors who are getting the red carpet treatment from the Amazon imprints or the elite agented-authors-only Amazon-exclusive White Glove programme Amazon may well be the be-all and end-all of their existence, but for most authors Amazon is just one of many retailers they could and should be in.

Amazon’s sixty-five per cent market share is undeniably impressive and as we constantly reiterate here on the EBUK blog, Amazon is THE most important retailer for most indies right now. But that still leaves 35% of the US market going to other retailers.

And internationally the figure is much, much higher.

Michael Kozlowski this week called Britain’s Tesco Blinkbox a “breakout” ebook store. No surprise to us. We’ve been predicting the impact of Tesco on the UK ebook market for a long time now, as regular readers will know.

Too soon for actual figures showing how much market share Tesco and Sainsbury are taking in the UK but safe to say it’s happening.

In Germany Amazon has seen its market share decimated as the Tolino Alliance stores got their act together in 2013 to challenge Amazon’s dominance. Now down to just 40%.

Elsewhere around the world, Canada and Australia aside, Amazon has yet to make an impact. As Mercy Pilkington notes , Amazon and B&N et al simply do not “have the global reach that Kobo has, with a market presence in nearly 200 countries.”

While our guess is Google Play will continue to lead the way for global ebooks, Kobo is still our best bet for second place.

Not that you’d know it reading the Zon-centric blogs, but Rakuten – Kobo’s parent company – are a major global online player, competing with Amazon at many levels.

Rakuten is not the kind of operator that will buy a venture like Kobo and that let it drift into oblivion. If it seems that Kobo’s international expansion has ground to a halt lately we suspect that’s due to the new guy in charge taking a step back and looking at what Rakuten can actually do for Kobo, rather than letting Kobo just carry on as a parallel company in a parallel universe. Our guess is Rakuten will soon begin a programme whereby the Kobo stores are integrated into the myriad existing Rakuten partner sites, which will dramatically increase Kobo’s reach.

But even without that Kobo is still a major international player, no matter how much the Zon-centric blogs prefer to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Thanks Mercy Pilkington at GoodEreader for the reminder.

 

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6 responses to “Advice To Indie Authors – Don’t Overlook Kobo.

  1. I’ve been telling new writers to get on the other sites all the time. Most are afraid of leaving Amazon and losing the ‘potential’ money they could be making. I also hear a lot of bemoaning about ‘starting at the bottom’ again. I don’t understand, but okay if that’s their reason I’m not going to push the topic. As I am Canadian, I can’t make an account on BN, so I use Smashwords and that puts my book into Kobo as well, but one BIG problem is marketing the Kobo site. There are very few book promo sites that aren’t strictly Amazon. Some of the bigger ones like BookBub do offer more than one platform, but they’re the exception.

    • The bias towards Amazon among the promo sites is, if understandable, very unhelpful in creating a diverse and healthy market, and plays a large role in Amazon’s dominance of the US market today

      While Bookbub does allow some other retailers to be promoted (notably stores like Books A Million are excluded) there is still the problem of the one-list price requirement.

      For someone like yourself unable to go direct to B&N (we Brits had the same problem for a long while) it mans relying on aggregators to change prices at retail stores when running a promotion, and that cannot always be done in timely and reliable fashion.

      the problem is when reader-subscribers see a promo on Bookbub and only see two or three retail stores listed they assume the book isn’t available at other stores, when as often as not is it more widely distributed, but the advertise was unable to unify the prices in time for the promotion.

      When we started the EBUK daily newsletters we had two clear guidelines from the outset- no affiliate links, so we would not become reliant on revenue from the retailers, and multiple list prices, so all retailers could be listed.

      The result is that, in the UK, we often find Amazon is not the cheapest option. Authors can list on Amazon at 0.75 but with VAT that appears as 0.77. very often we are able to list the Nook UK and ‘txtr UK price at 0.75p against Amazon’s 0.77 or even 0.99, and very often Apple beats them all at just 0.49. If we had a one-list-price policy none of these would appear as authors would naturally want their Amazon listing live, and the others would not be allowed.because they were not at the same price.

  2. While I have yet to get much traction at other vendors than Amazon, I believe in being where all readers are, so I upload everywhere I can. As for the library attitude toward self published novels, sigh. I enjoy your posts and always learn a lot from them.

    • Sorry, Pauline. This comment got caught up in spam. Only just found it.

      Diversification is definitely the way forward.

      And don’t judge all libraries by the few that don’t like indies. Many indies are doing very well in librraies worldwide, notably through OverDrive. Just, not Smashwords authors.

  3. Pingback: UK Digital Sales on the Rise

  4. Pingback: Amazon’s Latest Tool a Great Benefit to Indie Authors

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