Monthly Archives: September 2015

Flipkart Prepares To Shutter Its Ebook Store. Hands Amazon Control Of The India Ebook Market.

The writing has been on the wall for a while now, and the latest move by Smashwords didn’t help. Nor did Amazon’s launch of Kindle Unlimited India at a heavily subsidized price.

This week Flipkart formally announced the company ebook store’s future is under review, and there’s really no reason to expect it to end favourably.

Last month Smashwords withdrew 200,000 titles from Flipkart because “Flipkart determined their systems are not yet capable of supporting the dynamic nature of the Smashwords catalog.”

In plain English, Flipkart is not running a business model based on the interests of indie authors who want to jump in and out of Select at a moment’s notice. Smashwords is.

Barely was that announcement live than Amazon stepped up with the Kindle Unlimited India launch at a price no-one in their right mind could ignore. Almost certainly it saw a dramatic fall in Flipkart ebook downloads.

The thing is, while Flipkart has deep pockets, a multinational like Amazon has deeper still.

When Amazon launched in India a few years ago Flipkart was the undisputed king of online retail, with 80% of the online retail market (all goods, not just ebooks). Fast forward 2015 and Flipkart has just 44%. Snapdeal 32% and Amazon 15%.

Just this month it was announced India now has more people connected to the internet than the USA has people. By end 2017 it is projected India will have a half billion people online.

And while many will be reading ebooks, digital downloads form one very small part of Flipkart’s business.It intends – and needs – to focus elsewhere.

Last month Snapdeal declared its intention to dethrone Flipkart as the king of Indian retail. Flipkart faces an uphill struggle to stay at the top. Meanwhile Amazon has transformed its India game across the board, including ebooks.

Snapdeal doesn’t do ebooks, and while the withdrawal of Flipkart would leave a gap in the supply chain, I can’t see Snapdeal jumping in. They have bigger fish to fry.

A half billion Indians online by end 2017.

No wonder Amazon is throwing money at the India store like there’s no tomorrow. And, unlike in the first year when Amazon totally failed to glocalize, you just have to admire the way they are rising to the challenge now. And Amazon is big enough to play the ebook scene at a loss for the forseeeable future,  while still investing in the bigger picture.

Where does this leave the Indian ebook scene? Heavily balanced in Amazon’s favour.

There is no Apple iBooks store in India, and of course no Nook store. Kobo has a token presence (the partner stores are irrelevant). Google Play is there, and may yet emerge as the main western challenger to the Kindle store. The other western player is the digi-magazine store Magzter, which also sells ebooks.

Among the local players Landmark stopped selling ebooks over a year ago and Infibeam is like a fart in a colander, not knowing which hole to go out of.

There are two significant local players left – both app-based and pandering to the mobile readers. Rockstand and Newshunt.

Both have seen impressive growth and both are worthy challengers to the Kindle store. But they don’t have the deep pockets of Amazon to put up a fight against Kindle India.

Western indie authors can get into Rockstand and Newshunt direct, but it’s a convoluted process. The Indian aggregator Kartindo (LINK) will get you in as part of their paid package. But what we really need is a forward-thinking western aggregator like Italy’s StreetLib (LINK) to set up in India. Not likely in the near future as their focus is clearly on Latin America right now.

That said, Rakuten-owned Kobo could yet surprise us all, make a bid for the Flipkart customer data, and start taking India seriously.

Or even formally partner with Flipkart to handle the Flipkart ebook store, leaving Flipkart to focus on its core business.

But until that happens it looks like an open goal for Amazon in the India ebook market.

For daily news, clues and views on the global ebook scene, join the official Facebook Group The International Indie Author. (LINK)

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StreetLib Does It Again! This Time Its BajaLibros!

Hard on the heels of the announcement that StreetLib had added OverDrive libraries to their distribution options, commencing September 15 (LINK), the Italy-based aggregator has announced distribution to Argentina-based BajaLibros starts on September 21.

BajaLibros is the largest ebook distributor in Latin America (LINK) and the third largest Spanish ebook store in the USA. It’s also in Spain (LINK).

StreetLib also get your titles into other key domestic Latin America stores like Librerias Gandhi, El Sotano, Nubleer and PeruBookstore.

And StreetLib get you into Google Play, who have ebook stores across Latin America – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.

StreetLib also get you into Apple which has iBooks stores in several Latin American countries, and in Kobo, which partners with the key Brazilian store Livraria Cultura, and has a new partnership starting this month with Mexico’s two biggest bookstores (LINK).

With the BajaLibros distribution deal StreetLib could be said to have Latin America well and truly covered. No other aggregator comes close!

Not that there’s much to choose from them, but here’s the BajaLibros Uruguay store (LINK) and here’s BajaLibros in Mexico (LINK), and Chile (LINK), and Colombia (LINK), and of course Argentina (LINK).

BajaLibros has been selling ebooks in Latin America since 2010. As well as the above stores BajaLibros also has ebook stores in Brazil, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela, not to mention Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

There’s a common misconception that Latin Americans don’t read. But that’s more to do with availability than anything else. The Buenos Aries Book Fair this year had over 1.2 million visitors (LINK)

Thanks to smartphone proliferation ebooks are available across the continent, no matter how far you live from a bookstore.

To understand why I’m so excited by this new move by StreetLib check out past posts, as here, for example (LINK).

Last month I reported, courtesy of The Digital Reader (LINK) that Tigo Mobile has a carrier-billing agreement with the Russian ebook subscription service Bookmate to deliver books to readers in Guatemala and Paraguay.

Not just another pertinent Latin America story but a double whammy for StreetLib, because StreetLib is the only no-upfront-fees aggregator to get indie titles into the Bookmate catalogue.

But don’t think that’s good enough to keep The International Indie Author happy, StreetLib! 🙂

When will we see StreetLib titles going into Grammata’s Argentina, Mexico and Colombia and Spain stores?

And what about Movistar? Or Amabook? Here’s Amabook in Chile. (LINK). Amabook have nine store including the USA and Spain. Or Saraiva in Brazil? (LINK)

Given StreetLib have an office in Mexico and a Latin America manager, Viviana Paredes Estapé, who has been quoted as saying Latin America “is ripe with opportunities”, (LINK) I’m guessing it won’t be long.

For some reason they don’t speak much English in Latin America, so Spanish and Portuguese translations should be on the minds of anyone contemplating the Latin American market. All my titles are being translated into both languages.

But many indies will be using Babelcube for translations, and Babelcube don’t have much of a distribution network in Latin America.

So StreetLib (LINK) and Babelcube (LINK), if you’re reading this, how about you two get together and make our Spanish and Portuguese translations really worthwhile?

For more hot news on the way the global ebook scene is shaping up join  The International Author Facebook Group. (LINK)

“Excellent Performance In Latin America And Double-Digit Growth In Ebook Sales” Says Penguin Random House. How Seriously Are You Taking The Latin American Ebook Scene?

The Guadalajara International Book Fair in Mexico is fast approaching. It’s the biggest Spanish-language book fair in the world, and this year its bigger than ever.

Edward Nawotka at Publishing Perspectives reports that the Guadalajara Rights Center – a meeting place for publishers to exchange foreign-language rights – has sold out its 125 table several months in advance, a sure sign of trad pub’s growing interest in the region. (LINK)

Trad pub understands the global New Renaissance, and is preparing to rake in the cash from it.

Remember how the Indie Old Guard used to tell us trad pub were just rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic? Penguin Random House (PRH) this month reported parent company Bertelsmann has seen its highest revenues since 2007 thanks in large part to PRH’s expanded global reach. (LINK).

PRH reported “excellent performance in Latin America and double-digit growth in e-book sales (that) more than offset the ongoing challenges in the Spanish book market,”

The Latin-American market is getting VERY exciting and anyone not thinking about Spanish translations right now is crazy.

For indie authors one of the biggest problems has been distribution in Latin America. Amazon has stores in Mexico and Brazil, but the rest of Latin America is surcharged by Amazon. Apple, Google Play and Kobo are there however, In fact, as reported here (LINK) there’s a new ebook megastore, Orbile, opening in Mexico this month, and Kobo is handling its ebooks.

But there are are also countless “local” ebook retailers in Latin America. And it’s not terribly difficult to get into them.

No, Smashwords and Draft2Digital won’t get you into the domestic Latin American retailers, but at least one English-language aggregator is taking Latin America seriously. And that’s StreetLib (LINK). A full report on

accessing Latin America soon.

Meantime, if you haven’t yet dipped your toes into the translation waters check out these two posts (LINK) and (LINK) on how to get started.

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

For daily news and discussion about the global indie publishing scene checkout ot this lively Facebook Group.

 

Sorry, Smashwords. There’s Now An *Easier* Way To Get Into The OverDrive Libraries.

In a new blow to both US-based pay-as-you-sell aggregator Smashwords and UK-based pay-up-front aggregator Ebook Partnership, there’s now another way into the OverDrive global library catalogue.

Italy-based aggregator StreetLib will from September 15 be delivering Streetlib titles to OverDrive’s 33,000 partner libraries across 50 countries.

With Flipkart gone, the OverDrive libraries distribution option was one of the few reasons left to be putting titles into Smashwords.

But last month I spent far too much time trying to upload titles to Smashwords only to see them rejected straight away, sat waiting days to be approved (the exact same title would be selling on Apple in hours through Draft2Digital) or rejected days later after review. Titles with validated epubs that Smashwords rejects, yet that somehow manage to sail through Draft2Digital and into the exact same stores Smashwords says won’t accept them.

I’ve yet to have a title rejected by StreetLib

For OverDrive library access I’ll be loading all my new titles via StreetLib. I have to use them anyway to get them into Google Play (no direct access to Google Play from here even when the portal is working) which neither Smashwords nor Draft2Digital supply.

StreetLib also get you into myriad other stores Smashwords and Draft2Digital are not supplying.

Stores like El Corte Ingles in Spain, for example. Here’s one of my titles in ECI through StreetLib. (LINK)

StreetLib also gets your titles into the fast-growing global subscription service Bookmate.

Check out the StreetLib self-pub portal here. (LINK)

If you have your own epubs it’s free to upload.

And it’s in English, despite being Italian, Unlike Smashwords and Draft2Digi9tal StreetLib understands not everyone speaks English and so the site has eight language options, making it very easy to navigate.

Make sure StreetLib is part of your going global upload routine.