Monthly Archives: October 2015

Smashwords Titles Are Being Shipped To Gardners This Weekend. But How Long Before Coker Wields The Axe?

By the time you are reading this, Smashwords will have begun (October 22) shipping indie titles to the global distributor Gardners.

Based in the UK, Gardners distribute to retailers and libraries in 138 countries.

It’s a great deal for ambitious indies wanting global reach. My titles have been in Gardners for many years. Back in 2011 one became that year’s biggest selling indie ebook, and the eleventh biggest-selling ebook overall, thanks in part to Gardners. Obviously Amazon was the key player, but it was the availability in and sales from all the other UK retailers that clinched it.

I’ve long advocated indies get into Gardners, and now Smashwords has made it easy (unless you are an erotica author – Smashwords erotica titles are barred by both Gardners and OverDrive) I was initially delighted.

This new deal almost made up for the Flipkart fiasco, when Coker punished all Smashwords indie authors by axing Flipkart distribution because Flipkart wasn’t running its business to suit Amazon’s T&Cs. You couldn’t make it up…

I fear the exact same thing will happen to the Gardners partnership in the not too distant future.

Here’s why.

Smashwords indie authors were sending their titles to Flipkart and, at a later date, changing their mind and jumping into KDP Select.

KDP Select requires exclusivity, so Smashwords indies unpublish at Smashwords and Smashwords orders the partners stores to unpublish those titles.

The big players like Apple and Kobo are quick to respond. Flipkart was not so fast.

Indie authors, having done their bit and delisted from all other retailers, jump into Select and, out of the blue, comes the dreaded email from Amazon telling them they are in breach of Select rules because the title is still on Flipkart.

This meant a lot of unhappy Smashwords indies.

Coker responded by blaming Flipkart (far easier than fixing the problem at the Smashwords end), and cancelled the distribution agreement for all Smashwords authors.

No matter that most of us had no intention of jumping in and out of Select.

No matter that many of us were just beginning to gain traction in Flipkart.

As it happens there is anyway a big question mark over the future of the Flipkart ebook store right now.

But the issue here is Mark Coker letting the whims of Select-Hopping indies dictate which stores the rest of can get into.

Select-Hopping authors understandably didn’t like the Flipkart response time and Coker wielded the axe.

It’s now just a matter of time before the Gardners deal goes the same way, and for the exact same reason.

Gardners distributes to 400 global retailers. I can assure you from long years of personal experience that, no matter how quickly Gardners HQ send out the order to those retailers to make changes, not all those outlets will be fast to respond. Most will see delays of many weeks.

Many of these stores are in countries where Amazon doesn’t have a Kindle store, so the mighty Zon won’t notice if you’ve jumped into Select and your title is still on a retailer somewhere in Denmark or Poland.

Many more will be in countries that do have a Kindle store.

And when Amazon finds a Select title still lingering in a Gardners outlet in the UK, or Germany, or Italy, or Australia, or… The nasty emails will be sent, indie authors will go complaining to Mark Coker, and Mark Coker will start sharpening his axe again.

Internationalist indies looking to use Smashwords to build a global readership will once again find the rug pulled from under their feet. Hey, who cares about us? Not Mark Coker, clearly.

But there’s a simple and elegant solution, that could have been used to save the Flipkart deal, and can be used to save the Gardners deal.

Here’s the thing.

No-one is being forced to opt-in to Gardners, just as no-one was being forced to opt-in to Flipkart.

So, Mark Coker, why not just put a clear message on Smashwords that, if you opt into Gardners you should allow at least four weeks, ideally longer, for changes to be implemented.

That way indies who like to play Select-Hopping will simply not opt-in, or can plan well ahead, and internationalist indies can enjoy the fruits of the Gardners distribution deal without having to worry when the axe will fall.

With the slick and easy-access (no Meatgrinder nonsense!) Draft2Digital about to announce a deal with 24Symbols and lots of neat additions to its services, and with StreetLib and PublishDirect all offering a much broader distribution range than Smashwords does, Mark Coker needs to do everything he can to keep Smashwords relevant to indie needs as we head into the second half of this decade..

The Gardners deal is a big step in the right direction.

If it lasts.

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

The India Book Market Is Now Bigger Than The UK. The “Exploding New International Market Opportunities.”

Nielsen’s latest report on the Indian Book Market confirms what I’ve been predicting for the past few years. India has leapfrogged the UK in the global book market stakes and is now the sixth largest in the world and the second largest English-language market.

With ebook take-up in India ready to bloom over the next couple of years watch out for India leaping up that World Book Markets chart.

A reminder. India now has more people online than the US has citizens.

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Staying with India, I still haven’t got any satisfactory Hindi translations sorted, but regulars will know the indigenous Indian languages (there are 22 official languages in India) are a top priority for me as we head into 2016.

This latest report on Quartz (LINK)

is only about Amazon’s Hindi sales, but a safe bet we are seeing the same enthusiasm for local-language titles in other retailers.

Some retailers specialise in local languages and the key mobile app operators Rockstand and Newshunt are very keen to have them available.

Google’s South Asia VP recently said that the next 100,000,000 internet users in India will be local-language, not English.

Whatever language a person chooses (or is brought up to use) in India, I want them reading my books.

India, along with China and Indnesia, are among the most exciting prospects on the planet right now for internationalist indie authors.

Exciting times ahead!

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How exciting? Try this.

Rakuten-owned OverDrive said this week, “We are very bullish about the exploding new international market opportunities for publishers,” as they added 300,000 titles to their catalogue and increased their reach to 50 countries, with over 500 new outlets globally. (LINK)

Music to my ears.

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Meanwhile Ingram is also stepping up its global game.

Ingram has expanded the roster of international digital printing and distribution partners in their Global Connect program.
They will work with China National Publications Import & Export (CNPIEC) in China; Repro India in India; and Rotomail in Italy.

Sorry – lost the link, but it was reported on Publishers :Lunch.

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StreetLib adds Scribd to its distribution hub.

On this occasion Smashwords and Draft2Digital were ahead of the game, but now Scribd is an option in the StreetLib dashboard. They also have Bookmate and 24Symbols on board, which Smashwords and Draft2Digital have not.

Scribd is a US-based but crucially internationally-available subscription service.

If a reader downloads your book and reads 20% you’ll get 60% of list price from StreetLib. That’s 1.80 for a 2.99 list price, and 0.59 for a 0.99 list price.

Even for short stories and children’s books.

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With Oyster set to close in the new year, Smashwords is set to lose yet another partner store, hard on the heels of its ill-advised and utterly ridiculous pull-out from Flipkart.

But the pending Oyster closure has been a gift to the ebook subscription nay-sayers, who have been having fun explaining how the model was doomed to failure from day one.

Regulars will know I’m a big fan of the subscription model, and see a bright future for it.

That said, there’s no question Oyster failed, of course.

But let’s bear in mind that is started out with just an iOS app, so was only being used by Apple device owners. By the time it got around to expanding to Android Amazon had entered the game with Kindle Unlimited, yet instead of expanding globally Oyster remained obsessed with the US market.

So does Oyster’s imminent closure mean the subscription model is unviable?

Not a bit of it.

Russia’s Bookmate is doing rather well. So is Germany’s Skoobe, Spain’s 24Symbols, and a host of other global subscription services that aren’t US-focused. Skoobe has been going since 2012, 24Symbols since 2011.

There’s a great post on Skoobe over on Publishers Weekly. (LINK)

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Selling Foreign Rights In France Is Easier Than You Think!

So said Publishing Perspectives this past week. (LINK)

There’s a popular misconception in the wider world (and especially in the Anglophone world) that France is somehow insular and elitist when it comes to literature, and not worth bothering with.

Which is kinda sad if true, as France is the fifth largest publishing nation in the world. Bigger than the UK, and second in Europe only to Germany.

Yes, they do speak French, which is extremely inconsiderate of them, so the big question for us indies is, is it worth pursuing French translations?

You just know I’m gonna say yes, so I’ll strengthen my answer by noting my flagship title Sugar & Spice sold 50,000 hardcovers in France. Not quite mega-star sales, of course, but If that isn’t worthwhile I don’t know what is.

 Anne-Solange Noble in the afore-linked post points out that the French editorial market is actually “extremely curious and open to the outside world…”

I’ve got three French translators on board right now, and while the short-term focus is on ebooks I’m looking out for another French publisher that can get me into the lucrative bricks and mortar stores in France and Belgium, not to mention Canada, and for ebooks my focus is on the nascent  digital market in France and Belgium and the embryonic digital market in the wider Francophone world.

French is the sixth most widely spoken language in the world, with well over 200 million speakers, not least here in West Africa where, despite popular misconceptions that Africans don’t read and that the internet only exists in the rich west, books are highly sought-after and free-reading sites like Wattpad are very popular.

I’m investing time and energy in finding partners to reach the Francophone world, and strongly recommend you do too.

 Would I recommend paying up-front for a translation into French?

Not if you only intend to sell ebooks. The French ebook market is just beginning to shift. My ebook sales, for a proven bestseller in print, are disappointing to say the least.

But it’s early days. My digital titles in France right now are slowly gaining traction and are I’m looking at the future, not fretting about tomorrow’s lunch.

Ebooks are a great place to start in France. Take a look at Babelcube as a great place to find translation partners.

 But don’t blinker yourself to the wider possibilities.

As I’ll be exploring in an in-depth post soon, indie authors really need to think of themselves as *content providers* pushing valuable intellectual properties, not just *ebook authors* pushing mobi and epub files, if they want to make serious headway globally as we head into the second half of this decade.

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

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

 

Indonesia – why you should be there and how StreetLib and PublishDrive can get you a foothold.

Indonesia is a nation spread over an archipelago of more than ten thousand islands.  Yet somehow Indonesian publishers manage to sell books, are doing rather well now and expected to do very well in the near future.

Indonesia is one of the seven key countries featured at the Frankfurt Book Fair global markets focus this year, as well as being the Fair’s Guest of Honour.

Regulars will know I’ve been waxing lyrical about the prospects in Indonesia for a year or two now. Like India and China and a handful of other countries ,Indonesia has been a priority focus for me.

Why?

Because besides having the fourth largest population in the world, Indonesia is very engaged with the digital world. And the very factor that has hampered traditional publishing in Indonesia – being an archipelago of well over 10,000- islands – means Indonesia is the ideal place to sell ebooks.

So long as there is an internet connection available.

Oh, and a retailer.

The good news is, Indonesia is a hotbed of cyber-activity, and with a young population (over 80% of Indonesians are under 30) internet interaction is big. Seriously big.

The Indonesian capital Jakarta is twitter’s busiest city anywhere in the world. Indonesia is a major Facebook country (and helpfully 20% of Indonesian Facebook interaction is in English) and sees major activity with other social media, especially messaging apps.

As smartphone penetration increases so will Indonesia’s prospects as a market for digital products such as ebooks.

The bad news is, Amazon blocks downloads to Indonesia and there’s no iBooks Indonesia store (although Apple is huge in Indonesia, so it will come).

  • The good news is Google Play and Kobo are there.
  • So is eSentral. (LINK)
  • And so is Bookmate. (LINK)

In August of this year Bookmate signed a deal with IndoSat to launch the Bookmate Cipika-Books brand, (LINK)

Bookmate currently has some 2.5 million users around the world.

eSentral will get you into a number of SE Asian countries otherwise difficult to access, but let’s stick with Indonesia.

No, neither Smashwords nor Draft2Digital will get you into Bookmate. Nor Google Play. Nor eSentral.

But StreetLib (LINK)  – will get you into both Google Play and Bookmate.

PublishDirect (LINK)   – will get you into Google Play and eSentral.

For the record, pay-up-front aggregators like Bookbaby, eBook Partnership and Vearsa also get you into these stores, but the focus here is on pay-as-you-sell sell options.

Then there are the regional operators (including eSentral, which is based in Malaysia).  Another key regional player is Thailand-based Ookbee.

Indonesia-based Scoop (LINK)  is a regional player and leads the way in expanding its service out of Indonesia.

Currently no western aggregators are dealing with Ookbee or Scoop.

StreetLib, PublishDirect, et al, if you’re reading this, please take a look at Scoop and Ookbee!

Then there are the domestic Indonesian players. Not just Scoop but NulisBuku, WayangForce (LINK), IndoBooks (LINK), Qbaca (LINK), etc.

NulisBuku was one of the pioneer self-publishing platforms in Indonesia and has a great website. (LINK)

For western indies it’s important to appreciate that, while it seems as if the West is leading the way and the rest of the world has to wait until Amazon’s KDP or Smashwords or another easy-load option arrives, the reality is self-publishing is taking off all over the world without them.

Those of us who sit back and wait until  Smashwords or D2D finally realise there is a global New Renaissance unfolding are going to find ourselves entering an overcrowded market if and when we finally do take the plunge.

NulisBuku may have been the first, but bigger players are now in the Indonesian self-publishing game. Gramediana, for example, which is part of the huge Indonesia media outfit Kompas Gramedia

And you’ll be delighted to know that Gramediana have an English-language site. (LINK)

Indonesia, like China and India, is not going to make any western indies superstars overnight, but for any indie author looking to be a truly international bestselling author these three countries should be not just on your radar, but on your Invest Time & Energy In Now list.

Sow the seeds now for future harvests.

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

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

Aggregator Wars! PublishDrive Sign Distribution Deal With OverDrive, 24Symbols, Legimi, AllRomance/OmniLit, eSentral, Tookbook, Casa De Libro, RedShelf, Ciando, and India’s Rockstand

When I reported on Draft2Digital’s pending announcement of a distribution deal with 24Symbols I erroneously suggested they would be the only pay-as-you-sell English-language aggregator supplying this subscription service.

Embarrassingly I missed StreetLib (LINK), which supplies not only 24 Symbols but also Bookmate

Today along came the Hungarian aggregator PublishDrive (LINK) and firmly pulled the rug from under Draft2Digital’s feet with an announcement to die for.

Not just access to 24Symbols and another subscription service Legimi, but also access to the OverDrive libraries, to the Ciando libraries, to Tookbook, Casa De Libro, RedShelf, eSentral in SE Asia, and India’s Rockstand.

It’s like Christmas and a birthday all rolled into one!

I’ll be back with a closer look at all the key pay-as-you-sell English language aggregators soon.

Meanwhile, here’s that PublishDrive list again, with links.

Going global just got a whole lot easier!

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

Mexico is Publishing’s New El Dorado, Draft2Digital to Distribute to 24Symbols, and other Hot Tips for Internationalist Indie Authors.

There’s so much happening on the global scene right now it’s hard to keep on top of things. And that’s before the Frankfurt Book Fair kicks off.

To keep you up to speed, here’s another batch of short posts on how the global markets are shaping up.

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Regulars will know how excited I am about the Spanish-language prospects right now. With a half billion Spanish speakers around the world this is a huge market to tap into, and because of the concentration of Spanish speakers in Spain and Latin America it’s also a relatively easy market to tap into.

Two Spanish literary agents have just this past week launched a new venture called The Spanish Bookstage. (LINK)

The more observant will have spotted that’s in English, and so is the site – a reminder as ever that we Anglophone authors have a built in advantage in tackling the global markets even when the markets are in another language.

I’m a big fan of Babelcube – it’s a great way to find translator-partners. But… And it’s a big but… By going through Babelcube you hand over the distribution rights for that language to Babelcube and, at this stage in their game, that can be a frustrating experience, as Babelcube’s distribution leaves much to be desired.

Which is why, while I use translator-aggregators like Babelcube and Fiberead, I also seek translator-partnership arrangements independently. Not least for when opportunities like The Spanish Bookstage come along.

“The new platform,” says Publishing Perspectives (LINK) “comes at a time when the Spanish publishing industry (both in Spain and Latin America) is gaining stronger visibility in the global marketplace.”

While this is the first major platform dedicated to Spanish-language titles, there are plenty of similar operators which savvy indies should be keeping a close eye on that cover the global markets generally. I’ll be taking a close look at some of them as we wind up this year.

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Publishing Perspectives is always a good bet for global publishing insights, and especially so this month with the Frankfurt Book Fair almost upon us.

In an article on Publishing Perspectives few days ago Özkan Özdem offered some very useful insights into the exciting Turkish market. (LINK)

Again, regulars will know Turkey is high on my list of priorities, so I found this post very instructive. You may too.

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Moving on to that headline. Mexico is publishing’s new El Dorado?

Well, so says Diana Hernández Aldana from Turner Libros, a major Spanish-language publisher. (LINK)

Aldana expresses surprise at “the size of the markets in Mexico and Latin America and at their growth.”

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Over at The Digital Reader Nate reports that 3M is out of the library distribution business. (LINK)

From Nate’s post:

3M’s library division has been bought by Bibliotheca, a company that describes itself as “the largest global company dedicated to the development, deployment, and support of self-service library solutions”.

Nate assures us the 3M library distribution will continue without interruption, just under another name. Which hopefully means there will be no interruption to Babelcube’s distribution to what is currently called 3M.

3M supply mainly the US library system, and had ventured into Canada. There was talk of an international network along the lines of OverDrive, but that came to nothing. It remains to be seen what will happen globally.

Meantime be sure to be in OverDrive’s library catalogues. OverDrive have extensive international distribution and with Rakuten now owning them it’s likely they will be expanding further as we hit 2016.

OverDrive library access for your titles can be gained through the pay-as-you-sell aggregators Smashwords or StreetLib . as well as many pay-up-front services.

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Staying with StreetLib, a reminder that StreetLib now gets you into the key Latin American ebook retailer Bajalibros, which has stores across the region, including Brazil.

“In recent years,” opens Publishing Perspectives in a post on opportunities in Brazil (LINK) “while European book markets have remained almost flat or have even declined, the emerging countries are seeing a new chapter of the global business of books emerge in terms of exposure, opportunities and sales.”

Hardly news to regulars here, of course. Brazil has long been on my priority list.

Apparently only 25% of Brazilians have read a book in the past three months.

Plenty of reasons for that. Not least Brazilians being too busy playing on those beautiful beaches, or exploring the Amazon. Or, far more likely, that books have been a) unaffordable and b) unavailable.

But that is changing fast. Very fast.

And anyway, before we dismiss that 25% as too small to bother with, let’s bear in mind that 25% of Brazil’s 200 million population is 50 million.

Liana Suppressa, an Italian rights agent who specializes in children’s and YA titles, says that in Brazil there is a very strong enthusiasm and openness of publishers and of readers towards international authors,” adding, in Brazil “there’s a growing interest for middle grade and YA titles, both fantasy and contemporary realistic stories.”

Savvy internationalist authors will be looking to partner with Brazilian publishers to get a share of some of that growing enthusiasm, and of course making their own luck by going direct with their digital titles. Amazon, Apple, Kobo and Google Play are in Brazil,.

And not forgetting POD.

Babelcube is a great place to find (with some effort sifting through) some very competent Portuguese translators for both Brazil and mainland Portugal.

And longer term there are prospects for Portuguese translations in countries like Mozambique and Angola. As I’ll be exploring in a dedicated post shortly, Africa is an exciting emerging prospect.

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Speaking of Africa…

As I’ve reported many times, one reason I’m so excited by the global opportunities unfolding is because of the way some cyber-companies are investing in global internet reach.

I summarised the wonderful work of Google (Internet Saathi, Loon, etc) and Facebook’s Aquila project over on the Anne R. Allen blog last month (LINK), and also mentioned satellites.

Both Google and Facebook are investing in satellites, and this post over at VentureBeat this week adds further details of what Facebook have planned for us. (LINK)

Facebook have just partnered with Eutelstat Communications to deploy geostationary satellites  that will cover vast expanses of sub-Saharan Africa, starting in 2016.

The five ton Amos-6 satellites, built in Israel, will orbit above Africa (in sync with the Earth’s orbit) and facilitate broadband internet reception across the region, linking to African ISPs and direct to consumers. Crucially working with standard off-the-shelf devices like regular smartphones and tablets. No specialist equipment needed.

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Next, some words from trad-pub industry commentator Mike Shatzkin.

Shatzkin’s posts often get picked up by the indie blogosphere with the intent of ridiculing everything trad pub is doing. Usually with scant regard to the reality that trad pub is doing rather well.

This post from Shatkin covered backlist and export. (LINK)

That’s global sales, to us folk for whom international is a frame of mind, not just an ambition. Of course the indie blogs seized upon Shatkin’s thoughts on backlist and totally ignored his thoughts on export.

Shatzkin reports on an Ingram-hosted conference recently where one US publisher, Diversion Books, had launched its own ebook store app for its romance titles.

Shatzkin reports that Diversion are now seeing almost half – 49% – of English-language sales coming from outside the US, and perhaps most significantly of, 43% of sales coming from outside the US, UK and Canada.

A safe bet that 43% is not all from Australia and New Zealand, and very likely India is playing a significant role. But even so, a substantial portion of those “export” sales will be coming from other markets around the world.

Why?

Because they are being made available and buyable.

As I’ve said so many times here, trad pub (big and small) is raking in the cash from the global New Renaissance while most indies are still partying like its 2009, fighting each other for a share of the ever more competitive US market.

Indies can already get very profitable global reach from the mainstream retailers, but there are still vast tracts of the world off-limits by going this route.

Diversion’s ebook store app is one way in which small publishers – and indies –can reach a far bigger audience. And earn more from each transaction. And have access to the customer data.

Direct to consumer sales are something all indies with a decent-sized portfolio need to be looking at as we enter the second half of this decade.

I’ll be exploring this more as we head into 2016.

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Finally, let’s end with the second half of that headline somewhere above.

Yes, Draft2Digital is about to announce a distribution deal with the Spanish subscription service 24Symbols.

24Symbols is a subscription service in Europe that has been happily managing to survive with the subscription model since 2011.

Draft2Digital currently supplies the US subscription services Scribd and Oyster (Oyster will be closing early next year), tas well as the European ebook operator Tolino, the global Page Foundry (Inktera and Versent ebook stores) and the usual suspects Apple, Kobo and Nook.

As best I can see, the new addition will make D2D the only English-language aggregator getting indie titles into 24Symbols (if anyone knows another, do let me know). UPDATE, With great embarrassment I have to admit I somehow missed the fact that StreetLib already supplies 24Symbols. Sorry guys! So Draft2Digital will not be the first or the only.  🙂

And with Smashwords having recently dumped Flipkart, the addition of 24Symbols will make D2D a first-option for ever more indies frustrated by Smashwords’ antiquated system.

I’ll be running a comparison of the main pay-as-you-sell English-language aggregators shortly, looking at the pros and cons of each.

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We have unprecedented opportunities before us as the second half of the second decade of the twenty-first century unfolds.

Don’t let them pass you by.

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

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

The International Indie Author Facebook Group

The global publishing market is now worth $100 billion, and other global snippets for indie internationalist authors.

Real life got in the way of the blog last month, so to get back on track this October I’m kicking off with some global snippets to get you back in the internationalist mood.

With the first half of this decade to be history in just a few short months there’s never been a better time to embrace the global markets.

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The global publishing market is now worth $100 billion, says Jim Bryant as he opens a Bob Dylan-esque post over at Publishing Perspectives about how the global publishing market is reshaping up.

Four key quotes from Jim Bryant’s post (LINK).

“If the digital revolution has had one consequence, it means you need to make your books easily available and discoverable everywhere, always…”

“The transition from local to global is highlighted by the fact that English, Chinese, Spanish and German language eBooks are now available through digital storefronts and libraries in almost every country around the world.”

“Finding potential readers today is easier than it has ever been. It’s getting their attention that matters. In order to succeed to your maximum potential, it is necessary to be available – everywhere and to be discoverable.”

“The global market for books has become decentralized. In a decentralized marketplace, technology and data are the key drivers in building networks that connect readers with the books they may be interested in reading. There is no longer a single point of distribution for books and in fact new points of distribution are opening up around the world every month.”

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One new point of distribution is the Orbile ebook store in Mexico.

The store was due to have launched in September, but for reasons unknown the date is now October 22. Well, better late than never.

As I reported here a month or so back, as Amazon steps up its Mexico Kobo has broken its traditional partner-store mould by bringing together two rival bricks and mortar stores Libreria Porrúa (LINK) and Gandhi (LINK)  in one Kobo-supplied ebook store.

From the press release Digital Book World is carrying (LINK)  it’s clear this will be a Mexican ebook store, not a Kobo ebook store in Mexico. By which I mean Kobo won’t be just dumping their 4 million title catalogue on Mexican readers, but rather powering and supplying an ebook store curated by Libreria Porrúa and Gandhi to suit Mexican tastes.

In Europe Kobo have a good track record for supporting indie authors in the localized Kobo stores, but I’ve yet to see any evidence that Kobo can influence content curation in the partner stores, within Europe or beyond.

If anyone knows better, do get in touch.

Kobo remains one of the most significant ebook players on the international scene, no matter how poorly it delivers for indies focused on the US market.

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With the Frankfurt Book Fair almost here Publishing Perspectives has released a preview PDF magazine. (LINK)

I commend pages 4 and 6 to your attention as global adventurers, but most of the content is worth checking out.

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HarperCollins is taking the global markets seriously. How about you?

HarperCollins have just announced the formation of HarperCollins Italia, which consolidates the company’s existing interests in Italy and looks at major expansion. (LINK)

And not just in Italy. As the HarperCollins CEO says,

“We’re excited to announce HarperCollins Italia and expand our presence in Europe. This is the next step in our plans to provide our authors with a global, multi-language publishing platform to help them reach the widest possible audience for their work.”

Harlequin Mondadori. a successful, 34-year-old former joint venture with Harlequin Enterprises and Mondadori Libri will now be fully owned by HarperCollins. The new company will continue to publish romance titles under the “iconic” Harmony imprint and will expand its commercial trade publishing with titles from HarperCollins and Harlequin.

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The HarperCollins Italia venture has a strong focus on romance, as above. and as I’ve said many times, romance is a universal genre that easily transcends national borders.

Over in The International Indie Author Facebook group Dutch author Jen Minkman kindly posted this:

It might pay off to get your romance titles translated into Dutch. I’m currently in the Top 100 of bestselling books in the Dutch iTunes store with two titles (under a pen name, so I’m not going to post a link). It’s serialized, it’s got major cliffhangers, nobody’s complaining, and it’s selling like hotcakes.

It helps that I did the books myself, of course, so I don’t have to pay Babelcube anything (or a translator) but I just wanted to say it’s a worthwhile prospect to look into if you’re thinking of getting your books translated into other languages.

I don’t know how the Dutch define selling like hot cakes, but guessing it’s worth having some of. Unfortunately my romance portfolio is looking a bit skimpy right now in every language, but for those here who are sitting on a wad of romance titles…

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China is rushing up to the one–billion mobile internet users benchmark. Not total internet users, just those on mobile devices. And of those, 900 million are using smartphones. (LINK)

Expect that one billion benchmark to come all the swifter now Apple have launched their new iPhone, which broke all records here in the west, selling an incredible fifty devices every second over the first three days.

That’s 3,000 devices every minute. Or 13 million devices in 72 hours.

All the new devices come with the iBooks store as default.

Of course many will be upgrades from existing iPhone users, and many buyers will have no interest in ebooks, or will use an app to access another store.

But by any measure this is a lot of new devices putting the iBooks store in front of a lot of new eyeballs. And Apple has iBooks stores in over fifty countries.

Including China.

In case you missed it, Apple has just launched an iBooks CN store. (LINK)

It’s been a long while since Apple launched a new iBooks store, and the bad news is, it looks like it’s off limits to publishers outside China unless through a specialist intermediary service, just like Kindle China.

Too soon to say if Fiberead will be able to get western indies in with translated titles, but here’s hoping they can and it will be soon.

On the bright side, it shows Apple are still looking at new ebook outlets, and given their ambitious plans in India it’s now only a matter of time before an iBooks India store materialises.

Just one more example of the global markets shaping up very nicely for those of us taking them seriously.

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Anyone who takes “think about the next five years, not the next five weeks” seriously will have 2020 firmly on their radar.

As we hit 2016 formal 5G trials begin and with the Internet of Things (IoT) about to become a reality of everyday life, not just a plaything for the rich geek crowd, we are going to see some remarkable transformations in how the internet works for us.

Yes, it will impact the way we read and the way we reach readers. Don’t make the mistake of thinking reading – and writing – will somehow be immune to the charms of 5G and the IoT.  Savvy authors will be watching closely how best to take advantage of the new opportunities opening up.

And rest assured they will be global opportunities, and perhaps in places you’d least expect, because the internet is no respecter of international boundaries and has no time for antiquated ideas about how some nations don’t read or how other countries are too poor to embrace digital innovation.

As I explored over on the Anne R. Allen blog recently, the countries of the Third World are often simply by-passing completely the painful era of desktop and cable connections and going from no internet to 4G. (LINK) The world is truly globile. That’s global mobile for those of you playing catch up.

Internet speeds are no indicator of interest in reading our ebooks, but they are a great indicator of which countries are likely to take a major leap forward in digital embrace that will enhance our author prospects.

Korea topped the latest survey for global 4G/LTE provision. No surprise there. But there’s a surprise at the top of the list for speed, where New Zealand takes poll position.

It’s easy to get carried away with the notion that the US and other rich western nations will lead the way into the 5G era, but even now, five years from 5G, the evidence suggests otherwise.

Of the top nations able to provide an LTE (4G) signal 100% of the time, six were in Asia, one in Europe (the Netherlands), and perhaps most surprising of all the other was Uruguay. North America and the bigger European nations simply don’t get a look in.

As for speed, not only was New Zealand the leader, but in second and third place came Singapore and, make sure you’re sitting down for this, Romania.

The top networks in the world were Singapore, Romania and Denmark.

All that is neither here nor there for us as authors in our daily lives, but it shows very clearly the way the world is changing, and why I talk about not just a New Renaissance but a global New Renaissance.

A global New Renaissance that will shortly open up the rest of Asia currently on the digital sidelines, bring the Middle East into play as a major digital market and – trust me, I live here – transform Africa’s prospects.

Global (non-US/UK) sales already make up almost 30% of my writing income. By 2020, when the collective global markets will dwarf the US market, I expect it to be well over 50%. Perhaps significantly so.

We have unprecedented opportunities before us as the second half of the second decade of the twenty-first century unfolds.

Don’t let them pass you by.

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