Monthly Archives: January 2015

As Blinkbox Books Prepares To Depart This Mortal Coil, Kobo And Sainsbury Step Up Their Game. Txtr To Follow Blinkbox.

DiversifyIn20152015 is not off to a good start, with news that the ebook store Blinkbox Books and the audiobook store Bardowl are both folding. And as this post goes to press it looks like the Berlin-based ebook operator Txtr is insolvent. To which we can add continuing uncertainty over two of the Tolino Alliance stores in Germany, with a cloud hanging over the future of both Weltbild and Thalia.

But let’s keep things positive.

Too soon for any details on Txtr, so lwe’ll stick with Blinkbox and the silver lining in this news for indies.

With the tragic announcement that Tesco’s Blinkbox Books ebook store was to close, there was briefly some doubt about what would happen to its customers, but that problem, at least, has been resolved.

Kobo will be taking over the Blinkbox customer list in the UK, which will almost certainly see a boost in indie sales in the UK as Blinkbox readers see indie titles for the first time this March. Blinkbox was a trad-pub only outlet.

As well as the Kobo UK site, readers can buy from Kobo via WH Smith, which recently re-opened its doors to indie titles.

But Sainsbury have jumped in early to grab some of those customers. Sainsbury is the rival UK supermarket chain with an ebook store, and like Blinkbox owners Tesco, Sainsbury deals directly with the big publishers, so no indie access as yet.

For those still partying like is 2009, when high trad pub ebook prices meant an open goal for indies, it’s worth looking at Sainsbury’s latest newsletter today, offering 300 nectar points (worth £3.00 in-store) for an impressive run of trad pubbed titles at just £1.99 – well below what many indies are charging in the UK right now. (LINK) Throw in the nectar points and effectively you are being paid a pound to buy an ebook from Sainsbury!

Amazon will of course price-match, meaning more cheap trad pubbed titles on Kindle UK to compete with too. Hey, no-one ever said selling books was going to be easy!

For readers it’s win-win, at least in the short term.

For writers… Well, that’s down to us. No question things are harder nowadays, but also no question there are more opportunities for authors now than ever there was in 2009.

We all have the choice to sit back and pretend nothing has changed and nothing ever will… or to study the changes, look for opportunities that suit our particular circumstances, our genre niches and our readership ambitions, and seize them.

Those that do will likely still be around on the writing circuit to see what 2020 brings. Those that don’t…

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

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Draft2Digital Now Distributes To The Tolino Alliance. Smashwords Beginning To Look Jaded.

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Draft2Digital just took another leap ahead of Smashwords as it introduced the Tolino Alliance stores to its repertoire.

Regulars will know we’ve waxed lyrical about Tolino many times. It’s an alliance of ebook retailers in several countries – Germany, Netherlands, Austria and Belgium – with a collective market share heading towards 45% in Germany, which puts it ahead of Amazon.

Germany is the biggest western book market after the US (ebooks not so much, but coming on fast) and the biggest English-language market after the UK. Yes, bigger than Canada and Australia!

Most indies haven’t seen much action in Germany because most indies are only there through Amazon, Apple and Kobo. Meantime the Tolino stores have been mopping up sales.

Now, thanks to D2D, your E-L titles can be in the Tolino stores across Europe. A full post on the latest with Tolino soon.

Throw in territorial pricing, monthly payments, great reports and a very smooth interface that you can upload scripts direct to and get a tolerable epub conversion (not recommended – it won’t win any prizes – but far easier than going through the Meatgrinder) and it’s yet another reason to make D2D your primary aggregator.

Smashwords still has some irons in the fire. Flipkart, Txtr and the OverDrive library catalogue for example. But where they overlap then, unless you already selling well through Smashwords (in which case a move would lose your momentum), it really would make sense to focus on D2D and use Smashwords as the secondary means of distribution.

Congrats to D2D for reaching out to Tolino. Google Play next, guys? That would really set you a world apart from the rest.

Smashwords maybe the biggest indie outlet right now, but for how much longer?

And Ebook Partnership, another of your jewels has just been stolen. You really need to move to a pay-as-you-sell model. The USPs you still have, great as they are, simply do not justify the annual fees anymore.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

OverDrive Digital Library Ebook Loans Rose By A Third In 2014.

 

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Over 100 million ebooks were loaned out by OverDrive last year, along with 32 million audio-books.

Next time you read about ebooks sales slumping, ebook gluts, and other nonsense, bear in mind what we’ve long been saying: that market fragmentation is accelerating and the handful of big retailers indies have focused on are just one part of the picture. Readers have plenty of other places to obtain ebooks from.

Yes, digital libraries are eating into mainstream retailer market share, but that needn’t be bad news for authors. Just the opposite! Just like with subscription services, digital libraries are a great way for us indies to reach new readers and develop new fan-bases. And yes, authors do get paid for ebooks loaned through libraries.

Until last year getting into digital libraries wasn’t at all easy for indie authors, but the few that did reaped the rewards. Some indies have been with OverDrive for years, and have seen global downloads not just in the UK and US but notably from libraries in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Now, thanks to Smashwords, getting into the world’s biggest library distributor, Overdrive, is relatively straight-forward for most genres. (Note, erotica authors will need to try a different route – OverDrive draws the line at Smashwords erotica for obvious reasons, but OverDrive does NOT have a no-erotica policy).

It’s worth noting that all the Big 5 have ebooks with OverDrive libraries. If it’s good enough for them…

Lots of individual libraries across Canada and the USA saw over one million downloads in 2014, with some clearing two million.

Los Angeles Public Library saw its OverDrive circulation expand by 56 percent. The New York Public Library and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County each saw 42 percent growth to top the one million loan mark. And the Seattle Public Library, Hennepin County Library (MN), Cleveland Public Library, Calgary Public Library (AB), and Cuyahoga County Public Library (OH) each increased OverDrive checkouts between 25 and 35 percent to exceed one million loans.

The shift from PC-based downloads to mobile devices has been critical in this increase, and we can expect these numbers to be much bigger by the end of 2015.

We haven’t seen figures for other library distributors yet but safe to presume it’s similar story for them, albeit on a smaller scale. Again, library-distributors are not always easy-access, but it can be done. More on the various options soon.

Those not yet in the library distribution arena really need to think again. Or miss out. Because digital libraries are still in their infancy. This is just the tip of the ice-berg,

Digital libraries are an easy way to reach readers and boost your income even as the mainstream retail sector becomes harder and harder to navigate.

Yes, there is a glut out there. A glut of badly written, badly formatted and badly written ebooks that are cluttering the cyber-shelves and making discovery more difficult for serious authors trying to reach readers. And a glut of free ebooks and ten and twenty volume box sets sold for 0.99. If we swamp our readers with free and ultra-cheap titles by the million it’s hardly surprising readers are sitting back and waiting for the next freebie from indies rather than pay full price.

But as subscription service reports and library reports show clearly, ebook reading is on the up and up. And print is firmly refusing to keel over despite the repeated assurances of the indie fundamentalists over the last five years that trad pub was in terminal decline.

If some of our sales are tanking right now, maybe it’s because some of us aren’t focused enough on being where the readers are, and aren’t focussed enough on making our works available in formats the readers want it in.

Make no mistake. We are witness to, and participants in, a New Renaissance quite unparalleled in human history. We have global reach and global opportunity the like of which authors even a decade ago could only dream of.

Trad pub understands this, no matter how many times the Indie Old Guard trot out the heads in sand / deckchairs on the Titanic spiel.

Yet many of us indies are still partying like its 2009. Many of us are so over-awed by being able to publish at all that we are losing sight of the fact that there is more than one way to publish, and more than one or two retailers to publish with.

Digital libraries are just one option to diversify in 2015.

How diversified will you be by the end of this year? Or will you still be partying like its 2009 in 2016?

 

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter

Far more than just the UK.

Kindle Unlimited Daily Discovery Promo Newsletter Launches Today!

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We’re often accused of being anti-Amazon. And we’ve been particularly scathing of certain elements of Amazon’s ebook subscription service Kindle Unlimited.

So it may come as a surprise to some that we have today launched a promo newsletter exclusively dedicated to promoting titles in Kindle Unlimited.

But here’s the thing. The Ebook Bargains UK project is dedicated to helping authors reach readers, across as many retail platforms as possible and as widely as possible.

We are also dedicated to helping authors make informed choices about their distribution objectives and how they can best build a loyal global following while developing a career as a writer. That means calling foul when we see clear downsides to retailer operations. Our views on the royalty cut for authors that is Kindle Unlimited need no rehearsing here.

But our role is not to boycott retailers or retail services. As above, it’s to help authors reach readers.

And for those authors who have made the (hopefully informed) choice to stick with Kindle Unlimited – maybe to take advantage of the currently excellent payout KU offers 0.99 titles – the Kindle Unlimited Daily Discovery newsletter is one more weapon in their armoury.

Obviously there’s only a handful of subscribers at the moment – this is the first day – but that should improve rapidly as word spreads. A free newsletter for readers highlighting Kindle Unlimited titles in both the US and the UK. You can see today’s Kindle Unlimited Daily Discovery newsletter here. (LINK)

For authors, the deal is simple. Any title booked to appear in the main daily prom newsletters and that is in Kindle Unlimited will automatically appear in the Kindle Unlimited Daily Discovery newsletter as well.

In addition we’ll be adding extra titles from advertisers who want to specifically promote their KU titles just to the Kindle Unlimited daily Discovery subscribers. For the princely sum of just £2 (yes, two measly British pounds) we’ll add your KU title in the next Kindle Unlimited Daily Discovery newsletter we can fit it in. As ever, first come, first served.

It will only take a handful of KU downloads to put you in profit on that deal!

Obviously Kindle Unlimited is the best known of the easy-access ebook subscription services, so we’re starting off with KU. But we hope to launch a Scribd Discovery newsletter in the very near future.

Finally, a reminder. Unlike most promo newsletters the Ebook Bargains UK newsletters do not carry affiliate links. We are retailer-neutral.

And the proceeds from the EBUK project go towards supporting babies, children and schools in West Africa. More on that very soon.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

See No Future. Hear No Future. Have No Future. Part I.

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The i-phone is 8 years old.

And it’s fascinating to look back at just how radical it was when it was launched, – and just how backward it is compared to today. (LINK)

Running on 2G, with a 2mp camera. Images only, no video. No app store. For the first five years apparently you needed a PC to set it up when you first bought the device,

It’s now 2015 and the iPhone is a very different beast. The iPhone has changed. The world has changed. And thoe changes bring new possibilities for indie authors. Not least iOS8 with the iBooks store as a standard feature.

But this post isn’t about Apple. More on Apple very soon.

This post is about change. And about the need to be open to change and to the opportunities change brings.

Looking out over the indieverse we see far too many indie authors desperately clinging on to the past, adamantly partying like its 2009, while opportunity and adventure pass them by.

It’s 2015. We’re entering the era of the Internet of Things. The Internet of Everything is just around the corner. Things aren’t just changing. They are changing fast.

For those of us with more years behind us than we’d care to admit, who remember life before computers and the internet were available to mere mortals, let alone e-commerce and smartphones and tablets, our lives today are beyond our wildest science fiction fantasies.

Its important to remember that somehow we came to terms with and embraced these incredible changes. If we hadn’t we’d still be bashing away at query letters on typewriters instead of running off ebooks and uploading them to the internet.

As 2015 gets under way we all need to make sure the blinkers are off and our eyes are wide open to the opportunities ahead.

None of us can keep up with, let alone embrace, everything that is happening. And not everything will be suited to our needs.

But only by making informed choices will we have any chance of keeping up with what 2015 brings, let alone 2020.

Closing our eyes and covering our ears is not an option. Unless we want to be the 2015 equivalent of those wannabe authors sat at home right now bashing out those query letters on their typewriters.

See no future. Hear no future. Have no future.

 

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

far more than just the UK.

The Digital Sector Is Broadening, Not Weakening.

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From Philip Jones in The Guardian: “The digital sector is broadening, not weakening.” (LINK)

This is in stark contrast to what a lot or morbid commentators are saying right now, talking about gluts and falling ebook sales and the end of the indie-verse as we know it. But Jones is spot on.

The opportunities available to us have never been more exciting.

But sadly many of us indies are still partying like its 2009, and most of us who have ventured further are still partying like its 2013.

As we’ve said before, diversification means much more than just getting on multiple retailers, important as that is.

Diversification means stepping outside that ebook box we’ve all been sheltering in, and embracing the myriad opportunities that have lately become available, along with those yet to become available.

Translations, audio-books, e-zines, radio, film, TV, podcasts, games, new niches to target, new ways to repackage ourselves, new social media to explore, etc, etc.

Clinging to bog-standard ebooks and pretending the rest of the digital landscape is some foreign planet is as detrimental to our long-term careers as those authors who cling to print and pretend ebooks are some foreign planet.

The future’s not ours to see. It is ours to anticipate, and it is ours to embrace.

Think about the next five years, not the next five weeks.

Diversify In 2015.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

 

Amazon Prime In India By End Of The Year?

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Nothing official, but it seems Amazon is sizing up the prospects for launching Prime in India, with digital content streaming as a key attraction.

Film and music are being explored, in keeping with the current Prime offering, but of course a big boost to Prime’s appeal – in India as at home -would be to add ebook streaming.

Nothing will happen in India this side of summer, but we would expect Amazon to be pushing this venture to be live for the Indian festive season in the autumn.

Amazon is facing lots of local difficulties in India but is making progress despite. Shopping at Amazon is something of a status symbol for the lucky few who can afford to. One more example of eastern interest in western culture, that none of us should ignore.

Flipkart will remain the largest e-commerce player in India for a long while yet, and that goes for ebooks too. Remember, you can get into Flipkart through Smashwords with no up-front costs.

But anyone thinking the Indian ebook market is a two-dog fight needs to think again. Apple still aren’t there, and Kobo totally dropped the ball with this one, with a token presence that does no-one any favours.

But Google Play are there and making good ground. We expect Google Play to become the dominant ebook service in India in the not too distant future thanks to a combination of brand recognition, availability on Android devices, and carrier billing.

Landmark’s experiment with ebooks was short-lived, for reasons not yet clear, and players like Infibeam and Crossword are never going to amount to much.

But keep an eye on the magazine turned ebook purveyors like Rockstand, Newshunt and Magzter, all growing in importance as India goes mobile.

What we would love to see is the big western aggregators like Smashwords and Draft2Digital team up with these three, but as yet no sign. British aggregator Ebook Partnership do supply Magzter, and are looking at Rockstand and Newshunt, but that’s not a cost-effective option unless you plan to use EP’s wider distribution network.

Looking at the wider region, expect Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Bhutan and Sri Lanka to open up to ebooks this year, with Google Play leading the way.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.