Category Archives: Amazon Australia

Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall, Who’s The Cheapest Of Them All?

Go Global In 2014

Not for the first time this year, a survey has shown that a certain e-commerce giant, famed for offering better value than anywhere else, comes in a poor second or third when it comes to offering the lowest prices.

Bargains-hunter site Shopsavvy (LINK) have just completed a survey of popular consumer goods across seven categories – computers, electronics, entertainment, home and garden, kids, and sports and outdoors – and found Wal-Mart offered lower prices across the board compared to Best Buy and Amazon. (LINK)

This comes as no surprise to us. We’ve been monitoring ebook prices through our daily promo newsletters, and found that, even with Amazon’s Most Favoured Nation clause which dictates indie authors may not list on another retailer at a lower price than on Amazon, the Everything Store often does not have the lowest price ebooks.

In the US Amazon holds its own best, thanks to a common policy among most retailers that $0.99 is the lowest price option available. But even here we often find Txtr US (LINK) has ebooks as low as $0.75 and even $0.60. Likewise the Smashwords partner stores Inktera (LINK) and Versent (LINK). Very few indie authors are in the Books-A-Million store (LINK), but when they are it’s quite usual to see a price point of just $0.79.

In the UK Txtr (LINK) again regularly undercuts Kindle UK’s bottom line price of £0.77. So does Nook UK and Apple. Nook UK often carries titles at 75p, 65p or even 60p.

Apple has a policy we would love to see implemented at Amazon – that all list prices end in a nine. Apart from anything else it keeps the product pages looking professional. When you see an ebook prices at CDN$1.11 or AU$1.13 or 102.73 rupees it screams out that this is an indie title and the author/publisher has taken the lazy option and set the US price on Amazon and then let Amazon set the other prices against the US dollar.

And it’s not just about looking good. It’s about making/losing sales.

When we set that .99 price point on the US we do so for a reason. Because it’s a psychological ceiling to the buyer. $0.99 is under a dollar. $1.03 is over a dollar. $2.99 is clearly cheaper than three dollars. $3.23 is not.

You think it doesn’t matter? Then why not set your US price at US$1.03 or $3.23 instead of the carefully listed 0.99 or 2.99 you carefully chose?

Exactly. It matters.

And it matters all the more in Australia, where lax price listing in KDP can send your ebooks soaring over the psychological ceiling you set for the US, seriously impacting your sales.

Amazon already makes selling in Australia that much harder by setting the lowest price for a 70% royalty at AU$3.99 on Kindle AU when typically the same title will be available on Apple AU, Txtr AU, Kobo AU, Google Play AU, as well as Kobo partner stores like Angus & Robertson and Bookworld, etc, at just AU$2.99.

For those who chose to let Amazon set the price against the US dollar that AU$3.99 ebook, already obliged to be a dollar more than on Kindle US or Kindle Canada (and no, currency exchange rates do not justify this difference), shoots up to around the AU$4.40 mark on the Kindle AU site. An AU$4.99 title will appear at about AU$5.50 if you take the lazy pricing route.

Another factor impacting pricing on the Kindle UK and EU stores has been VAT. When you set your list price in KDP, Amazon adds the VAT to the list price showing. So even if you carefully chose 99p (£0.99) as your UK price point in your dashboard the price showing on the UK product page would be £1.02 or £1.03.

This matter resolves itself in a few weeks when Amazon adopts a new policy of setting UK and EU prices on the product page at the price we chose in the dashboard. But be warned even then if you are letting Amazon set your UK/EU price by the US dollar rate the price showing will still likely be an untidy one.

The new change kicks in from 01 January 2015 and is going to cause a lot of confusion for indie authors selling in the UK and EU with regard to the royalty they will receive. We’ll take a closer look at this development later this month.

Meantime, pop along to your Kindle listings store by store, country by country, and see if you have a tidy list price below the psychological buy ceiling, or a messy one above that ceiling that could be deterring readers.

You can do so via the KDP dashboard, or simply go the store direct. Open the Amazon store where you are (you may need to try a different browser to avoid Amazon re-directing you to your local store again), find one of your titles, and check the URL address.

Where it says (for US) Amazon (dot) com (slash) your title, simply change the (dot) com coding for each country.

Change Amazon (dot) com to (dot) co (dot) uk for the British store.

Change Amazon (dot) com to (dot) ca for the Canada store.

Change Amazon (dot) com to (dot) com (dot) au for the Australia store.

Change Amazon (dot) com to (dot) in for the India store.

Change Amazon (dot) com to (dot) com (dot) br for the Brazil store.

Change Amazon (dot) com to (dot) co (dot) mx for the Mexico store.

Change Amazon (dot) com to (dot) co (dot) jp for the Japan store.

Change Amazon (dot) com to (dot) de for the Germany store.

For other EU countries – Spain, Italy, France and the Netherlands the codes are respectively ES, IT, FR and NL.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

Ebook Bargains UK Rolls Out Buy Buttons For OverDrive, Scribd And Oyster And Kindle Unlimited.

Go Global In 2014

Here at Ebook Bargains UK we are committed to promoting a healthy and diverse global ebook market.

From the beginning we took a conscious decision not to go down the affiliate route.

This was a) to maintain our editorial independence as observers and commentators through the blog;

b) to ensure we were open to promoting ebook stores as widely as possible, regardless of whether they had an affiliate scheme we could make money off;

and c) to ensure we were not drawn down the route of favouring some better-selling authors over others less-well-established who were less likely to bring in affiliate fees.

The downside to that of course is that we rely solely on advertiser fees for revenue. As our subscriber base is small (inevitably, as we are targeting nascent markets) the fees are low, which in turn impinges our ability to develop as rapidly as we might like.

But we are getting there. If you haven’t seen our daily promo newsletters recently, check out the links below, to see how things are changing for the better.

First and foremost – and one in the eye for those who repeatedly assert we are anti-Amazon because we occasionally run posts on the blog that are less than flattering about the Everything Store – we now carry buy buttons for the Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription service.

We think it safe to say we are the ONLY ebook promo newsletter carrying KU buttons at this time.

As of this month we are also carrying buttons for OverDrive digital libraries, and the subscription services Scribd and Oyster. Again, we are probably the only promo newsletter reaching out to readers using these platforms.

For those unfamiliar, we also carry buy buttons for the global Txtr stores and Google Play stores, for Smashwords, for All-Romance and OmniLit, for Blio, Versent and for Books A Million, and of course the usual suspects Amazon, Apple, Nook and Kobo.

In addition, this month we have increased our support for indie bookstores in the US, and now have buy buttons for no less than four Kobo-partnered independent book-sellers.

These are Flights of Fancy in Albany, New York ; Gulliver’s in Fairbanks, Alaska; Poor Richard’s in Kentucky; and Skylight in Los Angeles.

Check out today’s Ebook Bargains USA newsletter (LINK) to see some of these in action.

Obviously the buttons appearing depends on the authors concerned having books available in these stores on the day.

Unlike other promo newsletters we are not price-restricted. If you have a title free in one store, 0.99 in another, 1.99 in another, and 2.99 in yet another, you can still include all the retailers in your EBUK listing.

In the EBUK newsletter for Britain (LINK), for example – advertisers are promoting titles not just on Amazon UK and KU, Apple UK, Google Play UK, Nook UK and Kobo UK but also Waterstone’s, Hive, Txtr UK, Foyles, Blloon, OverDrive and Scribd. In addition we also carry buttons for W H Smith, Sainsbury and Blinkbox , although these stores are currently off-limits to indies.

For the Ebook Bargains Australia newsletter (LINK) listings again could include Amazon AU, Google Play AU. Kobo AU, Apple AU, Txtr AU, Angus & Robertson, Bookworld, Collins, Dymocks, QBD, Booktopia, Fishpond, Pages & Pages, Big W, JB Hi-Fi, etc. And not forgetting Scribd and OverDrive

For the Ebook Bargains Germany newsletter (LINK) authors can promote their titles not just on Kindle DE, Apple DE, Google Play DE and Kobo DE but also domestic ebook stores like Hugendubel, Thalia, Buch, Bucher, Weltbild, Der Club, Bol and Ciando, and of course not forgetting Scribd. We have yet to have any author with titles in Skoobe, but when that happens…

Sadly the most exciting prospect for indie authors – India – is as yet the one most ignored by indie authors.

Today’s Ebook Bargains India newsletter carries listings for thirteen titles but only one of those thirteen has an India listing other than Kindle India.

Partly that’s the fault of the retailers. Neither Apple nor Nook are represented on the subcontinent. Kobo has a rather pointless partnership with W H Smith India and Crossword, and if they have a ”localized” India store it’s not possible for authors elsewhere to get the links for promotion.

Google Play has an India store, but none of today’s titles are in Google Play. We carry Scribd links in the India newsletter, but by chance none of today’s titles are in Scribd. C’est la vie.

More disturbing is the fact that India’s biggest store by far, Flipkart, is easily accessible to India authors through both Smashwords and Bookbaby, yet only one of the titles listed today is in Flipkart.

Landmark have lately stopped carry ebooks, but other domestic stores like Newshunt and Rockstand are upping their game by the day. And yes, as and when authors have titles in those stores we will carry buttons for them.

Here just to remind everybody that our feedback from subscribers in the nascent markets like India is very clear. They want to see deals in the stores they shop at where they are.

For India the most requested stores are Flipkart, Rockstand and Newshunt. We carry titles in Kindle India every day, so obviously those who do shop at Amazon are happy, but those that don’t are not going to change their buying habits to suit us indies. They’ll just buy books from other authors that have made the effort to be available.

That doesn’t mean indies need to try be everywhere. That simply isn’t possible, even if it were sensible.

But it does mean that, if we want to reach a global audience – and if you don’t, you’re reading the wrong blog – we need to put ourselves in our readers’ shoes now and again, and see things from their perspective.

Here’s the thing. Readers don’t care a damn what’s convenient for us indie authors. They don’t know or care how difficult store B is to get into compared to store A. They don’t know or care that D2D is much easier to upload to than Smashwords but that D2D doesn’t get our books into Flipkart and neither get us into Google Play.

Australians who buy from Angus & Robertson, Booktopia or QBD are not going to sign up with Amazon or Kobo just because it’s so much more convenient for us indie authors. If they want to get their books from their local digital library and we aren’t in the OverDrive catalogue they’ll just read someone else’s book instead.

Likewise the 60% of German readers who do not currently get their ebooks from Kindle DE are not going to change their buying habits just to enjoy our books. They still have plenty to choose from in the Tolino Alliance stores like Hugendubel and Thalia, in the Ciando stores (Ciando has its own dedicated English-language ebook store, such is the demand for English-language books in Germany) or Txtr DE, Apple DE, Kobo DE, Google Play DE, etc.

More hassle than it’s worth? Not necessarily.

While some global stores are nigh impossible to get into, and many others are, to say the least, challenging, it’s nonetheless never been easier to get diverse  global distribution.

Smashwords will now get you into the OverDrive catalogue serving digital libraries across the world, as well as the global subscription service Scribd. Smashwords gets you into India’s Flipkart. So does Bookbaby, and Bookbaby also gets you into places Smashwords does not, like the e-Sentral stores of SE Asia.

As we wind up 2014 and head into the brave new world that is 2015 we indies really need to address the issue of diversity.

Wonderful as Amazon is, putting all your eggs in one basket is never a wise idea, and as we’ve noted on many occasions, no matter how well Amazon is doing for you in the US and UK, it is not the dominant global player outside those shores, and never will be.

Diversifying your distribution does not mean leaving Amazon. You can still reach the exact same number of readers on Amazon that you do now while also being available to readers elsewhere.

As we wind up 2014, and launch our Diversified Distribution In 2015 campaign, we’ll be looking at all the latest options open to indie authors to reach readers where the readers are, including review of which aggregators gets you where, and which do it best.

Diversified Distribution In 2015!

 Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

It’s Only Rock-N-Roll (But You’ll Like It!) – Maybe Not So Much The Second Half.

Go Global In 2014

As the Amazon-affiliate blogs dance on Nook’s grave this week, Nook UK just gets better and better.

While pretty much all the other retailers simply clone their US ebook sites abroad and throw in some local window dressing to keep the natives happy, Nook shows it understands glocalization.

Unlike the Nook US site, Nook UK is a joy to behold. Completely different from the dinosaur of a site that is Barnes & Noble.

Not just a dedicated ebook site with crisp, clean and uncluttered product pages, that doesn’t trying to sell you dog food, diapers or dead-in-the-water phones, and, all-importantly, prices often much cheaper than Amazon’s. But also some great discoverability tools.

Take Nook Channels, for instance.

Pretty much all retailers have the same key categories. Boring old same-as-everywhere-else options like detective, romance and horror.

Amazon take that a step further with some great sub-categories that are far more useful than the standard BISAC options. Unfortunately they also go to the opposite extreme with mind-numbingly irrelevant micro-categories so you can shift one book to your Great Aunt Dot in Cumbria and become a “best-seller” in Detective Fiction > Women Sleuths > Vegetarian Women Sleuths That Dye Their Hair Blonde And Wear Stilettos > And Have A Pet Siamese Cat With A Wooden Leg > And Scabies.

Nook UK? Nook UK has introduced Nook Channels.

Here’s some examples (brackets are theirs):

It’s Only Rock N Roll (and I like it). Romance Through the Ages, International Intrigue , This Is A Man’s World (books for blokes), Sophisticated Journeys, That Way Madness Lies, Simpler Times (Midwives, nurses and other women of strength from days gone by), Continental Escapes, Hemingway & Sons, Digging Into Murder (If you like forensic mysteries and true crime cases, too.), Cool Critters, Girl Power, and a ton of others.

At this stage it appears (from a casual survey) only trad-pubbed titles are included in the recommendations, but no reason to suppose Nook UK will not be open to including indie titles. In the future, if not already.

Of course those who have been reading the Amazon-Infatuation-Syndrome blogs will be convinced Nook is the walking dead, after the latest reported losses and the drop in revenue.

But don’t give up on Nook just yet.

No question Nook is struggling right now, but let’s keep things in context.

Nook is up for sale. B&N have conceded they don’t have the resources to sustain the Nook project, and sometime early next year it will be under new ownership.

We’ve speculated a while now that the key bidders may be Wal-Mart, Tesco or Alibaba, any of whom have pockets deep enough to easily turn the ship around and make Nook a global force to be reckoned with.

Over at Forbes Jeremy Greenfield also raises the possibility of a Wal-Mart buy-out.

Yes, Nook is losing money right now, but, Apple aside, which ebook retailer isn’t?

Amazon? You won’t read much about this on the Amazon-affiliate blogs, but the mighty Zon is actually losing money hand over first, and is recording deficits right now that make Nook’s problems look pretty tame by comparison.

Hugh Howey, in a post entitled Barnes & Noble On the Brink, lays out the imminent demise of both B&N and Nook.

Howey delights in reminding us B&N is reporting a loss of only (Howey’s srcastic italics) $30 million. And as further evidence of the abysmal failure of B&N tells us that the latest Nook tablet is actually nothing more than “a modified Samsung device”.

Er, actually, Hugh, it’s a partnership between Nook and Samsung. If you want to find a company riding on the back of another, look no further than Amazon. Rather than develop their own operating system all the Amazon tablets, and the Fire phone, are piggy-backing on Google’s Android. And then they fork the system to prevent users accessing Google!

Sticking with Samsung, it’s also worth noting that, while Samsung devices continue to sell well, Amazon’s KindleFire shipments fell off a cliff in Q1 this year, dropping 80%, causing Amazon to go cap in hand to Samsung to get the Kindle app installed on Samsung devices.

As for the thirty million dollar loss B&N are reporting… Well, that’s pretty conclusive. A big FAIL.

But nowhere can we see Howey referencing the $126 million loss that Amazon reported last quarter. That’s only (our italics) a loss of almost $100 million MORE than B&N.

To drive home just how pointless B&N is in the scheme of things Howey tells us B&N are “flatlining.” If that’s flatlining, then Amazon are deep-sea diving.

But not only does Howey omit to reference the current Amazon losses, he also declines to mention the Q3 losses due to be reported next month. On Amazon’s own guidance, Q3 losses are expected to be over HALF A BILLION dollars.

Deep sea diving? Amazon is exploring the Marianas Trench!

Just last week Amazon went cap in hand to Bank of America to BORROW two billion dollars, an announcement that was snuck out after business hours on a Friday to lessen the impact. Curiously Howey’s post, dedicated to showing that an ebook retailer reporting a loss must be on life-support, didn’t mention this either.

One reason for Amazon taking on new debt will be the utter disaster that is the Fire phone. Amazon’s much hyped venture into the mobile phone business, with a pioneering 3D device that was supposed to sell gazillions and knock Apple and Samsung for six, sold just 35,000 units in its first month, despite having the brand name and full marketing power of the Amazon machine behind it.

To put that in context, the Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi held a flash-sale in India last month and sold more than that in just 4.2 seconds. No, that’s not a typo. Forty-thousand cell phones sold in fewer than five seconds. http://www.androidcentral.com/xiaomi-sells-40000-units-redmi-1s-just-42-seconds-india

The mighty Zon failed to shift that many in a month, despite throwing in a $100 dollar bribe in the form of a year’s free Prime membership.

Oh, and remember that $126 million loss for Q2 and the half a billion plus loss for Q3? That doesn’t begin to take into account the losses on the Fire phone, which was expected to bring in a ton of revenue.

This week Apple launched their latest phone. No-one is in any doubt it will sell in the millions.

Amazon’s response? They dropped the price of their $200 phone that nobody wants to just NINETY-NINE CENTS, still with a year’s free Prime membership worth a hundred bucks.

When you see Nook charging a buck for their devices just to get the junk out of the warehouse, then is the time to start worrying about Nook’s future.

~

Meanwhile, spare a thought for Jeff Bezos.

Any hope he might have had that the much-vaunted Alibaba IPO would flop and investors would not touch a ropey old Chinese interloper daring to spread its wings on Amazon’s home territory have been well and truly dashed.

Just two days into the Alibaba IPO campaign the entire IPO is over-subscribed, despite the road-show having only covered two cities –http://www.pymnts.com/news/2014/alibabas-ipo-already-oversubscribed/#.VBGiwMJdUsc.

What has Alibaba to do with us indies? More than you might think, not least because of the very real threat it poses to Amazon.

We’ll be looking more closely at Alibaba, and at the cruel reality that is Amazon’s precarious financial predicament, in forthcoming posts.

No, you won’t read much about that on the Amazon-affiliate blogs. Just like you won’t read much about the lawsuit the FTC has against Amazon for fleecing millions from customers, the investigation into Amazon in India by financial authorities, the EU investigation into Amazon’s Luxembourg affairs, or the H&S investigations into two deaths of workers in Amazon’s American warehouses in the past year, or the two billion they just had to borrow..

Which is why we took the decision at the outset to have no affiliation with any retailer. We call it as we see it.

But be assured it’s not just us looking on nervously as Amazon struggles to make a cent of profit. Again and again and again.

Try looking outside the cozy world of our indiesphere and reading the money market blogs.

Yes, it’s easy to keep our heads down an stay hidden in our indie-author box and assume everything is rosy and it’s all the other retailers that are struggling, while Amazon is invincible.

But everything isn’t rosy. And Amazon is far from invincible.

You think the Hachette dispute is about getting better prices for customers? Be serious.

It’s about trying to force down front-list prices for ebooks to make the print versions less appealing. Why? Because it costs Amazon nothing to deliver hundreds of thousands of $9.99 ebook. It costs Amazon far more than they can comfortably afford to ship hundreds of thousands of heavy hardbacks for “free” to Prime members. Shipping costs are one of the biggest problems Amazon is facing right now. Which is why they are offering to PAY Prime members a dollar to accept standard shipping instead of the expedited Prime service.

Amazon famously relies on wafer-thin margins to give customers the best prices. But the prices often aren’t the best, as anyone who takes the trouble to shop around will know, and there’s a fine line between wafer-thin margins and no margins at all, or a loss.

Many authors rely heavily on Amazon for their livelihoods. What happens in the Amazon Boardroom matters.

Yes, we know we’re going to get hammered for being “anti-Amazon” (curiously we are never hammered for being anti-Smashwords, or anti-Kobo when we report their downsides), but if its anti-Amazon to report the fact that Amazon is in its worst financial crisis since its inception, that growth is slowing, market share is falling, profits are zero and investors are very, very nervous, then so be it.

Go read the Amazon-affiliate blogs instead.

They’ll tell you what you want to hear.

It may not be what you need to know.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just another ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK. Continue reading

The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of… Ebook Sales!

GoGlobalIn2014_500

It’s that time of year again. The winter holiday season, when people swap sunglasses, skimpy bikinis and Bermudas for sunglasses and colourful skiing outfits and head for the snow-covered higher ground. In Europe they’ll be heading for exotic destinations like the Austrian and Swiss Alps.

austrianalps1

In the olden days that meant packing a ton of books in your luggage so you had something to read while laid up in hospital with a leg in plaster after some unintended acrobatics. Nowadays it’s just a matter of remembering to pre-load your ereader or tablet app before you go. Because as we all know, once you step outside the US and UK ebooks are as hard to come by as juicy t-bone steaks at a vegetarian butcher’s convention.

English-language books abroad? When will these foreigners learn to speak English? Not only would it make our lives easier when we invade their ski slopes and beaches, but we might sell some of our books to them too.

~

Austria may not be the first country that springs to mind when you think about getting sales for your English titles abroad, but with an estimated six million English speakers – more than New Zealand! – Austria should definitely be on your list.

If you are with Apple your titles will be there in the Apple Austria store. Then there’s Google Play Austria and Nook Austria (albeit only for Windows 8 at the moment), and not forgetting ‘txtr Austria. There’s even a Sony Austria Reader Store.

And then of course there’s Kindle Austria. Oh no. Strike that. Amazon thinks Germans and Austrians all look the same so Austrian readers wanting to buy your books from Amazon have to get their Kindle ebooks from neighbouring Germany.

In similar vein Belgians (also six million English speakers) have to sign up with Kindle France, and New Zealanders (four million English speakers, since you ask) have now officially been designated Australians by Amazon and get redirected to the Kindle Australia store. In ZonSpeak New Zealanders have been “assigned” to Kindle Australia.

To add insult to injury Australians and New Zealanders are now expected to pay more for your ebooks than when they shopped at Amazon US. If you have titles listed at US$ 2.99 on AmCom you’ll find that on Kindle Australia they are now selling at AU$ 3.99 (or more) for Australian, New Zealand and other Oceania buyers. Titles set at US$2.99 on AmCom before the AU site came into being have been automatically upgraded to $3.99. And no, US$ 2.99 does not equate to AU$ 3.99. New Zealanders and Australians now have to pay roughly an extra half dollar for your ebooks.

Why is that Apple, Google Play and even ‘txtr can give New Zealanders, Belgians and Austrians their own ebook store in their local currency, but Amazon can’t?

In Switzerland (five million English speakers) Amazon kindly lets Swiss readers sign up with either Kindle France or Kindle Germany. Very nice. We all like choices. But ‘txtr, Google Play, et al have their own Swiss ebook stores where readers can pay in the local Swiss currency (Swiss francs in case you were wondering). Here’s the txtr Switzerland site – a fine example of glocalization.

We can add Ireland to the list. ‘Txtr, Apple and Google Play all have dedicated Ireland ebook stores. Kobo are there with Eason. They list in the Irish currency – the euro. But Irish readers (four million) who want to buy from Amazon have to sign up with Amazon UK, and pay in a foreign currency – the British pound. Or sign up with Amazon US and pay in a foreign currency – the US dollar.

Some of you in the US and UK will be thinking, “Big deal. Amazon is the only place that matters, so readers will ignore the rabble.”

Well ask yourselves this: If Amazon decided that from tomorrow you will have to shop at Kindle Mexico or Kindle France, and pay in Mexican pesos or French euros, would Amazon still be so appealing? Or would you maybe look at another store that doesn’t treat you as a second class customer?

The problem seems to be that, far from leading the way forward with ebooks, Amazon is still hung up on the old world of print distribution, where geography actually mattered. While digital-only operators can embrace fully the opportunities offered by ebooks, Amazon thinks first and foremost about the print titles it sells, and the Kindle sites are built around those constraints.

Which is why ‘txtr, Kobo, Google Play and Apple can manage to treat New Zealand and Australia as the two totally separate and independent nations they are (don’t be misled by a glance at the world map – Australia and New Zealand are a three-hour flight apart!) while Amazon lumps them together as a single unit for its own convenience.

Still not bothered? You should be.

The problem for us as indies is that, increasingly, readers will turn to “glocalized” stores like Google Play and ‘txtr that make the effort to be local to readers where the readers are.

Yes, Amazon will still attract many new customers. But the early-adopter phase has past.

Indies need to understand that the Amazon honeymoon is over.

~

As writers we naturally gravitate towards Amazon. It was our first choice as authors, and probably our first choice as e-readers. And back in the day it was pretty much the only show in town.

No more.

Indies must be clear that readers who aren’t writers have no misty-eyed attachment to the Kindle store. It’s just one of myriad places they can buy ebooks and e-reading devices. Yes, Amazon is a great site. Famously “the everything store”.

But outside the US Amazon is not the “everything store” that it to Americans. Not by a long shot.

Visit the satellite Amazon sites and take a look around. At first glance it all looks the same bar the language/currency. But take a closer look.

Things Americans take for granted like Prime, one-click and gifting, for example, are not available on every Kindle site.

Likewise most items Amazon sells that draws so much traffic to Amazon US in the first place are not available on other Amazon sites. Just look at the drop-down menu of categories. On Amazon US there are nearly forty categories. The Amazon India store has just eleven. Amazon Brazil has two. Amazon Mexico has one.

If there’s an Amazon site and a Kindle store and easy access to Kindle devices where readers live then yes, Amazon will still be the first choice for many new readers taking their first, tentative steps into digital reading.

AMAZON IS AN ESSENTIAL PLACE TO BE. Don’t misconstrue anything here as anti-Amazon.

But here’s the thing. In countries where Amazon surcharges or blocks downloads completely – which is most of the world – Amazon is not going to be the first port of call for readers going digital. They will be buying elsewhere – not just from high-profile global players like Apple and Google Play, but from retailers you’ve probably never heard of, and while some will be reading on familiar Kindles, iPads and Samsung Galaxy tablets, many others will be reading on devices you probably never knew existed, through apps you probably never knew existed, buying from stores you probably never knew existed.

Try going to Amazon’s very own India site and looking at the range of tablets available to buyers in India. Yes, you’ll see the KindleFire and the Samsung Galaxy and the Google Nexus and all the usual suspects. But you’ll also see the Lenova Ideatab, the Xolo QC800, the iBall Slide, the Ambrane D77, or…

And this is just a small selection from a very limited choice available on Amazon India. Try a dedicated India tech gadgets site to see a ton more. Or wait a week or so and we’ll be running a detailed post on just how many alternatives there are to the devices you know and love.

No, you’ve never heard of them. But there’s the thing. You don’t live in that vast expanse of the planet known as The Rest Of The World.

Most of the world’s population do.

But let’s get back to Austria.

~

Amazon has neither an Amazon Austria site nor a Kindle Austria site. Amazingly this doesn’t stop Austrians shopping online.

With no Kindle Austria site, many Austrians will be looking to buy their ebooks from one of Austria’s biggest online stores, Donauland. There are plenty of others they can choose from.

The Kindle is readily available in Austria, but Donauland customers may well be reading on a Tolino Shine e-reader or a Tolino tablet, which are sold across the continent but especially popular in Austria, Germany and central Europe. If you live in the US, UK, Canada, Australia or New Zealand you’ve probably never heard of the Tolino Shine or the Cybook Odyssey, ot the ‘txtr Beagle or the Archos range but Europeans have.

We are repeatedly asked how do indies get into all these “new” stores

For those wanting to get their titles into Donauland and the Tolino Alliance stores in Germany – see below – you’ll need to be in the wholesaler catalogues, either directly or through an aggregator. Sorry, but Smashwords, D2D and Bookbaby won’t get you there. We know for sure that the aggregator Ebook Partnership can get you into Donauland and the Tolino Alliance. There are n doubt other options., If anyone knows any, do let us know.

We also mentioned ‘txtr and Google Play above. Smashwords apparently has a distribution agreement pending with ‘txtr, but at the moment neither Smashwords, D2D nor Bookbaby will get you into the eighteen ‘txtr stores, nor the forty-four Google Play stores.

Depending on where you live you may be able to go direct to Google Play, but it’s not straight-forward. Not wishing to over-stress one aggregator at the expense of another, but Ebook Partnership will get you in to both ‘txtr and Google Play.

A full report on English-language aggregators and where they can (and cannot) get you will be appearing here in the near future. But for now, back to Donauland again.

Donauland is part of the Austrian arm of the German Tolino Alliance group, which devastated Amazon’s market share in Germany in 2013.

Seriously.

In Germany local ebook stores and local devices took Amazon down from almost 90% market share to a little over 50%. Yes, Amazon is still by far the biggest single player in Germany, but collectively the competition is making Amazon’s eyes water. And the competition is just beginning.

We’ll look at the Tolino Alliance in detail in a forthcoming post. Here just to say this is market fragmentation in action. And it’s happening everywhere, not just in Germany.

~

Global ebook sales are increasing at a phenomenal rate. There’s a huge, untapped market out there that is growing by the day, and will dwarf the US market in the not too distant future.

China is already the second biggest ebook market in the world. It will almost certainly take the number one spot this year. Russia is racing up from behind. Other countries are in hot pursuit. Many of these countries – China and Russia among them – haven’t got Kindle stores (although there is an Amazon China store).

Let’s be clear. This phenomenal growth in China and Russia is not being driven by Amazon. And nor is the growth in most of the world.

It’s the same story across Europe, Latin America and Asia. While Amazon is busy surcharging readers and making life difficult with its cumbersome payment options, it’s slavish adherence to print-world geography, etc, other platforms are soaking up customers like there’s no tomorrow.

Not just the bigger international players like Apple, Google Play, Kobo and ‘txtr, who understand glocalization, but all importantly the wholesalers like OverDrive, Copia, Ingram, Gardners, Baker & Taylor, et al, who supply libraries and retailers across the globe (OverDrive alone has some 24,000 outets), and who are past masters at glocalization.

In far off Thailand the local ebook store Ookbee was adding 6000 customers a day even way back in early 2013, and was expanding into Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. That growth may be stifled right now because of political issues in Thailand, which will also be holding back Google Play’s and eSentral’s traction there.

Malaysia -based eSentral supplies ebooks to Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand among others. Google Play now has extensive reach in the region – everywhere from Hong Kong and Macau to Singapore. While Amazon is blocking downloads to countries like Singapore other retailers are gaining traction.

And it’s the same story across six of the seven continents.

Maybe all seven.

You’ll find Antarctica listed in the KDP dashboard as one of the places you are assigning Amazon rights to distribute to, and Simon & Schuster claim to have actually sold an ebook in Antarctica, but generally its best to take the Amazon KDP list of countries with a pinch of salt. Despite inviting you to tick the box, many of these countries are actually blocked from downloading by Amazon.

Be under no illusion. Wonderful as Amazon is, eager readers around the world are not sitting back drumming their fingers, patiently waiting for Jeff Bezos to grace them with a Kindle store. They are busy buying ebooks elsewhere, including from stores you’ve probably never heard of, and reading on devices you’ve probably never heard of.

They could be buying and reading your ebooks. But only if they are available.

When a reader in a distant land hears about your wonderful novel and finds it isn’t available from their preferred retailer where they iive then they’re not going to open up  a new account somewhere else just for you. They’ll buy some other author’s book instead.

Being there is half the battle. Go Global In 2014.

Ebook Bargains UK

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International Ebook News Round-Up

Go Global In 2014

International ebook news to kick off 2014.

Libraries without books.

In Texas there’s a new bricks and mortar library that ONLY lends e-readers, ebooks and other digital downloads. Not a single print title.

Almost certainly the shape of things to come. Print still has plenty of life in it, of course, but all-digital libraries like these will become increasingly common across the globe, not just in the US.

Millions of digital downloads in libraries – how many will be yours?

Last year six libraries (five in US, one in Canada) reported having over one million ebook downloads. Expect the million to become millions, plural, and the five to become hundreds, maybe thousands, this year as more and more people discover e-reading.

bexarlibrary

Those of you in Smashwords may have opted for library distribution. If not, you really should. Libraries are great for discoverability. But Smashwords gets you into only a handful of libraries. If you want to hit the library scene globally you need to be in the catalogue of wholesalers like OverDrive.

OverDrive

A year ago the wholesaler catalogues were a sideshow for indies. But their reach is staggering, and globally they will collectively eclipse the big players like Amazon in the not-too-distant future. If you are not in all the wholesaler catalogues you are going to miss out on sales in a big way.

Wattpad grows and grows!

Many millions of people are reading on smartphone, tablets and phablets, and that number is set to grow astronomically this year and next. Over at Wattpad, one of the biggest reading platform in the world, latest figures show 85% of Wattpad users are accessing via a smartphone, tablet or phablet.

wattpadlogo

Wattpad won’t bring you direct sales, but as a tool for discoverability globally it is unrivalled. This from the latest release from Wattpad:

Quote:

“Wattpad members spent an average of 30 minutes for each session that they engaged with the community. In 2013, writers added 20 million new stories and visitors spent 41 billion minutes spent on the site. More than 53 million connections were made on Wattpad in 2013 and these connections sparked over 300 million messages, comments and votes. The Wattpad community spent 87 million minutes each day reading and sharing stories from their phones and tablets last year. Readers also created more than 4.4 million story covers and YouTube trailers to support their favorite stories and writers on Wattpad.”

Unquote.

Impressive numbers. If you plan on Going Global in 2014 then make sure Wattpad is part of your strategy.

Market fragmentation again

Over on the Anne R. Allen blog on Sunday 12 January we’ll be looking at, among other things, the proliferation of tablets, phablets and smartphones from companies not automatically associated with ebooks,

For example, companies like Acer are expanding their low-end range of devices significantly,

What most indies don’t realise is that a lot of these low-end tablets come with default ebook stores and apps, like Blio and Versent. Or in the case of Acer they have their own Acer ebook store built in.

What Acer are doing now Toshiba and other manufacturers will be looking at too, and you know our predictions for Samsung and Sony. An ebook store – their ebook store – as default on every phone, tablet, computer and TV they make.

It WILL happen.

0_0_450_0_70_http---i.haymarket.net.au-News-dymocks-iconia

Take a look at the image above. If you read our post on Australian bookstores you’ll know that Dymocks is one of the key Australian ebooks stores most indies have never heard of. This ad shows how Dymocks were selling Acer tablets in their bookstores across Australia and said tablets were being sold with the Dymocks ebook store app pre-installed.

Were? In fact Dymocks has more recently partnered with Copia, as Acer now have their own ebook store pre-installed on their Acer tablets.

But there’s the thing. This ad is from May 2011. Yes, almost three years ago Dymocks, an Australian ebook store you’ve probably never heard of, was selling ebooks on a tablet you’ve probably never heard of. It’s a funny old world.

And speaking of funny old worlds, on the Anne R. Allen blog on Sunday we’ll be looking at a lot more tablets and ebook stores you’ve probably never heard of, including a tablet you’ve never heard of in India that is outselling all the competition – including the Kindle, the i-Pad and Samsung.

These obscure default stores on bnscure tablets may be small-fry compared to Amazon right now, and most will never be more than bit players individually, But collectively they are going to grow in importance as more and more people who have never e-read before find they can do so on their new tablet or smartphone without having to download apps or sign up to somewhere else. And they will probably quite happily stick to that default store for all their ebooks.

The scale of market fragmentation happening right now is just staggering.

Any individual outlet might just be bringing in pennies for an author, but collectively the potential income from retailers outside the Indie Comfort Zone of Amazon, Apple and B&N is going to make trad pub exceedingly rich. A few lucky indies will join them. You might be one of them. But not if your ebooks aren’t available.

Hungry for ebooks? They certainly are.

Over in eastern Europe, in sunny Hungary, you might be thinking ebooks have yet to arrive, but actually they are thriving.

Mostly Hungarian outlets, admittedly, but among places where you can upload your English-language books without knowing any Magyar are good old ‘txtr (eighteen stores globally), Google Play (forty-four stores globally) and Nook on their new Windows 8 platform roll-out.

But back to ‘txtr. Txtr has stores across Europe. They have just signed up with Hungary’s biggest mobile network, Magyar Telekom, and are giving away free’ txtr Beagle e-readers to selected customers.

magyar telekom

The Magyar Telekom ebook store is powered by ‘txtr Hungary. And yes, you can get into seventeen of the eighteen ‘txtr stores through the wholesaler catalogues (curiously ‘txtr Canada seems not to like indies). Smashwords have a pending deal with ‘txtr, but it’s not official yet.

There are about 2 million English-speakers in Hungary, so not a market to dismiss lightly..

The ‘txtr beagle e-reader is also available to Hungarians to buy on a two-year monthly payment basis. This is an important point. The retail price is only 18,000 forints – about $80 – so spreading that over two years may seem ridiculous to us rich westerners. If you earn Hungarian wages it’s a lot of money…

But because ebooks are far cheaper than print books -ereading is taking off big time in the poorer, and even the poorest, parts of the world.

txtr_cloud

If anyone is excited enough to actually click on the ‘txtr Hungary link, go to bottom right of the page and you’ll see the menu for all the other ‘txtr countries.

Yes, ‘txtr have a US, a Canada, a South Africa, a New Zealand and an Australia store. Amazon only recently gave Australia a sub-domain store, and has now re-classified New Zealanders as Australians. Instead of buying in foreign US dollars New Zealanders can now buy in foreign Australian dollars.

‘Txtr spotted that Australia and New Zealand are actually two separate countries and there’s more than a ferry ride between them. In fact it’s a three hour flight! They are as far apart as London and Moscow. And use two different currencies.

‘Txtr are mainly focused on Europe – a region much neglected by Amazon. Your $2.99 ebook will cost a Hungarian $4.99 from Amazon. Stores like ‘txtr understand glocalization and have a Hungarian language store in Hungarian currency for Hungarians. And they don’t surcharge.

Viva Espana ebooks!

In Spain, just one of the many countries where Nook is now available to Windows 8 app users, readers are being offered free ebooks and magazines to get them started.

We’ll be covering Spain in-depth soon ,as it is an exciting new market for authors, but here just to reiterate the point about Nook. Nook is not dead, despite what many of the indie blogs are claiming. They’ve just rolled out on Windows 8 apps across vast tracts of Europe, and also Australia.

Nook is now the default e-reader store on new Microsoft tablets and smartphones, but that’s not all. Nook also are the default ebook store for at least one Samsung Galaxy device.

Don’t write off Nook just because some Kindle-obsessed blogs claim its game over for rivals B&N. Nook may well be sold off from B&N, but whoever buys it (our guess is Samsung or Microsoft) will take it to whole new levels.

Apple i-Gifts

Apple now have i-Gifting available for ebooks, music and films. Of course it’s only to other i-device users, but it’s another great tool for getting your ebooks out to other people.

At some stage (hopefully sooner rather than later) Apple are going to start taking ebooks seriously, and when they do things will get very interesting for authors.

We’ll be looking at Apple in detail soon, but here just to remind anyone not in the Apple catalogue that Apple pay 70% royalties across the board.

Although some of their 51 i-Books stores are public domain only, they do have significant international reach, especially in Europe and Latin America. There are millions and millions of Apple i-Devices out there that people could be reading your ebooks on. And you’ll get 70% royalties even if you list at 0.99.

For those not using an Apple Mac you can still get into Apple through Smashwords, D2, Bookbaby and other aggregators.

E-Ink Smartphones!

Finally, if you are in the USA you may dream about e-ink smartphones, but in some parts of Europe they are already a reality. E-ink smartphones are now on sale in France, Austria, Germany and Spain.

yota-lead-630

Sorry, guys, but when it comes to ebooks you Americans are often the last to know. Subscription ebooks, anyone?

In fact these new e-ink smartphones are dual-scree,n with both LED and e-ink displays. Cheap? No. Not at this stage. But the prices will come down, and availability will increase.

Over in Russia there is talk of a Kindle store and a Kobo store this year, so only fitting that Yota, the company leading the way with e-ink smartphone technology, is Russian.

More on the fast-growing Russian ebook market soon, comrades. But some indies are already there!

When in Rome, read as the Romans do. With an ebook from an Italian ebook store.

Last month was the Rome Book Fair. Not a major event like Turin, which is in the spring, and very little sign of ebooks – but don’t lose sight of the fact that there are indeed ebook stores in Italy.

Not just Amazon Italy and Apple Italy, but Google Play Italy, ‘txtr Italy and Nook (Windows 8) Italy for example.

We’ll be looking at Italy in detail soon, but here just to mention two key domestic players – Mondadori and La Feltrinelli – and one small one, Ultima.

No need to ask. Yes, indies can get in, with a bit of effort.

lafeltrinelli

Ultima is a tiny player. La Feltrinelli and Mondadori are the giants of the Italian ebook world. There are lots more,

How many Italian ebook stores will you be in in 2014?

Make 2014 the year you go global. Dive in now and be a big fish in a small pond, and as the pond gets bigger you can grow with it.

 

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Which Country Has The Most Ebook Stores?

 
Which country has the most ebook stores?
 
The answer may surprise you. It’s Poland.
 
Outrageous, or what?! Poland hasn’t even got a Kindle store. How do they know ebooks exist?
 
Yeah, it’s a funny old world.
 
In fact Poland has been selling ebooks since 2004, three years before the first Kindle was launched, and five years before KDP appeared on the scene, and now has an ebook store on every street corner. Well, not quite, but how does twenty-five “local” ebook retailers grab you?
 
That’s in addition to the international players like Apple, Google Play and ‘txtr that have also set up shop there.

And then of course there are the  big international stores like Amazon and Kobo that Poles can buy from via their central sites, and the small international stores like Smashwords, Diesel, All-Romance/OmniLit, Blio, etc, that Poles can also buy ebooks from.
 
We’ll come back to Poland in another post, as there is much we can learn from them. But most of the Polish ebook outlets are local-language only, or at least only accessible by local-language portals, so not of great interest to us right now.

~

 
So which English-language country has the most ebook stores?
 
Before you read on, have a quick count-up and make an educated guess.
 
No, it’s not the USA (unless you count the many indie book stores with ebook sites through Kobo and IndieBound).
 
It’s Australia.

 
Yep, Down Under are way up top when it comes to places to buy ebooks from.

But how many Australian ebook stores are you in? How many can you even name?

Try these:

  • Amazon Australia
  •  
  • Apple Australia
  •  
  • Kobo Australia 
  •  
  • Google Play Australia
  •  
  • ‘txtr Australia
  •  
  • Sony Reader Store Australia
  •  
  • Nook Australia
  •  
  • Angus & Robertson
  •  
  • Bookworld
  •  
  • Collins
  •  
  • Australian Publishers Association
  •  
  • Booktopia
  •  
  • Dymocks
  •  
  • QBD
  •  
  • JB Hi-Fi
  •  
  • Big W
  •  
  • Fishpond Australia
  •  
  • Pages & Pages

 
To which we can add the smaller international-access stores like:

  • Smashwords
  •  
  • All Romance / OmniLit
  • Blio
  •  
  • Versent
  •  
  • Ebooks Com
  •  
  • Scribd
  •  
  • Diesel

 
And no doubt a good many more we’ve overlooked.
 
There are also a number of other small indie bookstores in Australia experimenting with. or with plans for. ebook stores. Some, like Big W and JB Hi-Fi, have no prior association with books, but have opened an ebook store anyway. Expect many more bandwagon-jumpers like these to set up ebook shop in Australia (and worldwide) over the next year or two.
 
But just in that list above Australians have a choice of some twenty-five or so retail outlets to buy their ebooks from.
 
Why so many? Geography plays a key role here. In a land as vast and empty as Australia book stores are few and far between, and if you live outside the big cities even fewer and even farther. For print books distribution was (and currently is, but that will change – see our forthcoming post on why POD is going to grow in importance) a logistical nightmare, severely limiting what books Australians could choose from.
 
No surprise then that when Amazon came along, distributing print books far and wide by kangaroo mail, Australians were quick to spot the opportunity to have, after a short wait for delivery, access to far more print books than any local bookstore could offer.
 
And no surprise either that when the Kindle appeared on the scene Australians were especially keen to get them, given they (unlike most of the world) could buy ebooks direct from Amazon US without surcharges. 


Amazon Up Top Down Under – But For How Long?

Back in 2009 there were very few rival devices about, and even less that were affordable, so the Kindle got off to a flying start. Just like in the US and the UK, Amazon snatched about 90% of the ebook market.
 
Which of course put Amazon in an unassailable position, so indies don’t need to bother about being in the Johnny-come-lately club, right?
 
If only…
 
What’s important to understand is that, as the new Kindle Australia site finally went live last month (Nov 2013 for anyone reading this long after it was posted), Amazon’s market share is estimated at between 60%-70%, which means that as many as four out of ten readers may be buying elsewhere.
 
Admittedly those four out of ten are spread over a fair number of outlets, as per the list above. And yes, we know what you’re thinking. All that extra hassle just to get four sales?  You’ve got more important things to do.
 
But try thinking of it as forty sales out of every hundred. Or four hundred out of every thousand. And for the big hitters, four thousand out of every ten thousand.
 
Exactly. You cannot afford to ignore the smaller stores as we move to the second stage of the digital transition. We’ll discuss just what the “second stage” involves in another post, but for now just be assured the second stage means more ebooks being bought from more ebook stores than you can even conceive of right now.
 
Let’s be clear. We’re not saying Amazon sales will decrease. Just the opposite! But even as the volume of Amazon ebook sales increases so their market share will fall further over the coming years. 
 
Why? Because of market fragmentation, glocalization and the proliferation of smaller ebook stores.

And remember, this is a global phenomena, not just Australia. It’s already happening in the US, and it’s about to happen in the UK.
 
More on that in another post. But for now, back to Australia.

Amazon Australia
 

The Amazon Kindle Australia store is of course a welcome new addition to the Amazon camp, but it is a new addition in name only. In reality Amazon Kindle Australia is just an Amazon Dot Com sub-domain site, and brings little new to the table. And what is new may not be that welcome.

Local authors can load up to KDP direct and get paid direct, and local readers can now see the prices and pay in Australian dollars, but for authors it doesn’t open up any new markets as Australians were already able to buy from Amazon US without being surcharged.
 
And as with Amazon Canada, this late arrival in a market where, paradoxically, it was doing well,actually hinders as much as it helps. Indie titles appearing in the new Amazon AU store kick off with no ranking and no reviews, and of course it is another site to promote, for those OCD types among you who can’t go an hour without tweeting your title, and another web address to add to your promo page.
 
At this stage Amazon Australia pricing also seems pretty erratic, but teething problems are to be expected.

That said, we are hearing disturbing reports from authors in both Australia and New Zealand that these may not be teething problems, but part of Amazon policy. It would seem New Zealanders have been told they are now Australians so far as Amazon is concerned, and both Australians and New Zealanders are being charged significantly more than the US$ list prices for ebooks – prices that bear little relationship to the currency exchange rates. More on this in a forthcoming post when we have further clarification.
 
Meanwhile, for those of you who pay attention to fine detail and like to run a tight ship, it’s worth checking into your KDP account and setting the Australian list price to a fixed sum – ie 0.99 or 3.00 or whatever, otherwise you’ll end up with those horrendous “just over” prices like $1.03 and $3.07, because Amazon will by default set your Australia price based on the exchange rate for the US dollar.
 
And by the way the same goes for all the other satellite sites. Prices like 167.83 rupees on Amazon India don’t just look unprofessional – they will likely put off potential buyers. More on international pricing in a forthcoming post.

~

 
So, thanks to their head start Amazon held around 90% of market share for ebooks in Australia, just as it did in the USA and UK. Best estimates now are that it’s nearer 60%-65%, and as the competition gets serious we can expect that probably to level off at around forty percent in the coming few years. The biggest still – it’s hard to imagine Amazon being dethroned soon in this particular market – but nowhere near a monopoly.

And the runners-up are…

Thanks to its partnership with a number of Australian retail stores and chains Kobo is likely to be a big contender for second place over the next year or two, although it’s generally agreed Apple Australia has that honour at the moment.

With over fifty international ebook stores Apple is an essential place to be seen. Given Apple have over 200 iTunes stores worldwide it’s just a matter of time before they roll out more iBooks stores alongside. Though a note of caution there – it seems many Apple iBooks store, such as Apple Malaysia, only stock public domain titles.

~
So, back to Australia, and the other big player, Kobo.

Kobo has a “glocalized” Kobo Australia store, but unless you are in Australia you probably won’t be able to access it easily, and to be honest most Australians don’t know it exists, even if they use Kobo devices.

The reason being any Australia Kobo users will likely as not be buying their ebooks from either Angus & Robertson, Bookworld or Collins, which are the three key Kobo partner stores, each with their own fully-fledged ebook stores.

Those of you in Kobo will find many of your titles in these stores. If you are in Angus & Robertson you can be pretty sure you are also in Bookworld at the same price. Collins is a bit more hit and miss.
If you are with Kobo and not showing in any of these three stores then you need to get on to both Kobo and the individual stores. The stores will tell you it’s Kobo’s problem and hat Kobo haven’t sent them the titles in question. Kobo will tell you they send everything but the ebook stores pick and choose what they stock. But amid the mutual blame what usually happens is the missing titles miraculously appear.
Another, much smaller Kobo partner store is Pages & Pages, which is an indie book store with a link to Kobo Australia. Pages & Pages have only just partnered with Kobo, and at this stage do not have an online store of their own, but send buyers to the Kobo Australia site direct. That may change. We’re waiting to hear back from them on their plans. But if you are with Kobo then Pages & Pages customers will be able to buy your books.

Pages & Pages certainly won’t make you rich, but don’t go thinking they aren’t worth the effort. Micro-stores like these should be acknowledged and encouraged by indie authors, not dismissed as irrelevant. They have small but loyal customer bases. Readers, to you and me.

And not just any readers. These are readers who have kept these indie bookstores in business until now, rather than buying at lower prices from Amazon or a local chain store, and they are unlikely to suddenly start buying their ebooks elsewhere.

The Pages & Pages team are fiercely patriotic and miss no opportunity to tell Australians how buying from Amazon sends money out of the country, creates no local jobs, etc. For some while now Pages & Pages has been running a Kindle Amnesty programme, offering cash in return for Kindles being handed in and exchanged for Kobo devices.

It’s not known how many (if indeed any) might have taken up this offer. The wider world has cottoned on to the story in the past week or so as if it is something new, but those with good memories will know we mentioned this a month or two back, and the Amnesty has been going on since April 2013.

Other ebook stores, while not quite so open in their dislike of the mighty Zon, also loudly trumpet their Australian credentials. Angus & Robertson declares itself “Proudly Australian”. Booktopia claims to be “Australia’s local bookstore” and reminds us all it is “Australian owned and operated”, while QBD is “Aussi owned and operated”. And so so and so on.

Don’t underestimate the power of patriotism to influence buying patterns overseas as the digital market expands. Look on Australia as a barometer indicating the way the wind is blowing for the rest of the world.

Outsiders On the Inside
Of course Amazon is not the only international player targeting the Australian ebook market.  Google Play and ‘txtr both have dedicated Australian ebook stores, as does Sony and Nook.

As we’ve said before, Google Play and ‘txtr are ones to watch. Google Play has 44 stores worldwide, ‘txtr 17.  Neither are making a huge impact in Australia (or anywhere else) right now, but don’t let that lull you into complacency about the future.

Google Play has a self-pub option in the loosest sense of the word. Expect a proper self-pub portal in 2014.
‘Txtr have a pending upload agreement with Smashwords (not yet official), Meanwhile you can get into the ‘txtr stores, including ‘txtr Australia, through an aggregator that deals with the wholesaler catalogues. Likewise Sony. Smashwords gets you into Sony US and Sony Canada but not the other Sony five stores (Australia, Austria, Germany, Japan and UK).
Unless you live there you’ll probably have difficulty accessing Google Play Australia, due to stringent territorial controls, but ‘txtr Australia and the Australian Sony Reader Store are easily viewed, easily signed up to, and well worth being in.

Nook Australia? As we’ve reported previously, Nook had an international expansion programme on the cards and, probably alone among the industry commentators, we’ve been upbeat about it actually happening. Last month Nook finally rolled out across much of Europe and also Australia (32 countries is their claim), with a restricted platform (Windows 8 app required) ebook offering.

You can get the Windows 8 app for Nook at the Nook Australia site – http://www.nook.com/au/windows. Yeah, read that bit again: the Nook Australia site.

Okay, it’s not quite as grand as it sounds, but it’s early days. We’ll be reporting in full on the Nook expansion in the New Year. Just remember not to take too seriously the doom and gloom mongers who have been gleefully predicting B&N’s and Nook’s demise.

We leave the subject of Nook for now with this from Softonic:

NOOK for Windows 8 blows Kindle for Windows 8 out of the water. Barnes & Noble has done an excellent job of creating NOOK for Windows 8 and definitely ramps up the competition between it and Amazon.”

Bear that in mind next time you read an industry piece saying Nook is the walking dead.

Another small international player is Ebooks Dot Com, which prices in US dollars and sells around the world, but is actually an Australian company, and one of (if not the) oldest ebook stores still in existence. Ebooks Dot Com actually started selling ebooks last century! Not a big player, but another option for readers. Not many indie titles there, but those that are get in through Ingram.

~
Meanwhile, back to the many smaller local Australian ebook retailers you simply cannot afford to ignore.

Take QBD – Queensland Book Depot if you must know. With fifty or so bricks and mortar stores across Australia they are no outback bookshop.

Accessible for indies? Absolutely. QBD ebooks are supplied by the wholesaler Copia. So are Dymocks. We mentioned Ingram above. Ingram also supply Booktopia.

Being in the wholesaler catalogues (Ingram, Gardners, Copia, OverDrive, Baker & Taylor, etc) is ESSENTIAL if you want to reach the international markets in any serious way, and that includes Australia. Taking just a few more from the list at the top of this article – Fishpond, Big W, JB Hi-Fi, etc, are all accessible to indie authors if they are in the wholesaler catalogues.

They can even get you into stores which at first glance seem distinctly indie-unfriendly. Take the Australian Publishers Association, for example. Obviously that’d exclusively for Australian Publishers, right?

Well, that may have been its original intention, but their ebook store is fed by Copia, and that means indies who have made the effort to be in the Copia catalogue may well be in the APA store.

No, you probably won’t see many sales each month from the APA, or QBD, or Dymocks, but that’s not the point. We are just at the beginning of an incredibly exciting journey into global ebook sales, and these  stores are just the tip of the iceberg.

Copia, along with Ingram, OverDrive, Page Foundry and other companies far too many to mention, are offering so-called White Label solutions. Put simply, they provide a ready-made ebook-store filled to the rafters with big name ebooks from big publishers. You just sign up and slap your company logo on the front of the box then sit back and watch the money roll in.

It means that pretty much anyone anywhere with the inclination and some web space can set up an ebook store of their own, filled with anything from tens of thousands to literally millions of ebooks, all being sold under their own brand label.

Check out Big W or JB Hi-Fi in the Australian list above – fine examples of White Label stores, and also fine examples of how retailers with no previous connection with books are getting in on the act. Expect lots more of the same.

And in case you need reminding, yes, there are indie titles in them. But only indies who are in the wholesaler catalogues. The wholesaler catalogues don’t have self-pub portals as such, although individuals can set up accounts. But the ideal is to have one or two aggregators who do have accounts with them and do all this work for you, leaving you to write your next book.

At the moment Smashwords only gets you into Baker & Taylor, and D2D into none, but there are other aggregators about, and more will soon appear. 

The British aggregator Ebook Partnership has an excellent track record and can get you into all they key wholesaler catalogues. That’s a pay up front option, but you get 100% of net royalties. 

Untreed Reads also has a good range of outlets, and offers a pay-as-you-earn option, similar to Smashwords.

Bookbaby
 has just this month started a new “free” distribution option (like Smashwords and Untreed Reads it’s not actually free – they will take a percentage from your sales revenue). Bookbaby doesn’t get you in all the key wholesaler catalogues but does get you into Copia and Gardners, and also Scribd and eSentral. Well worth checking out.

We’ll be looking in depth at both aggregators and the wholesaler catalogues in the New Year.

Aggregators should be your best friends. Don’t underestimate what they can do for you, now and in the future. They can get you access not only to stores you never knew existed, but into stores that don’t yet exist.  A presence in hundreds – soon  thousands – of ebook stores around the globe.

If you’re thinking all these micro-outlets aren’t worth bothering with, think again. A sale is a sale. When your Amazon or Apple Australia reader likes your book and tells their friend who has an epub ereader and an account at Big W, or only ever shops at QBD, or is a loyal customer at Booktopia, you may just have made another sale.

More importantly, when that Amazon or Apple customer tells that friend and said friend with the epub ereader goes to their preferred ebook store and you’re not there, you’ve probably just LOST a sale.

Quite aside from which, as we’ll explain in a forthcoming post, “glocalization” and market fragmentation mean these myriad small and micro-stores are going to collectively be very important players. And because they will be supplied by the wholesaler catalogues it means the said wholesaler catalogues are about to become far more important than you would ever imagine.

As we’ll be explaining in a forthcoming post, the wholesaler catalogues have reach way beyond anything Amazon, Apple, Kobo or Google Play can match. Put simply, the wholesaler catalogues are the new black.

As we hurtle into 2014, and the international ebook market grows ever bigger, ever faster, how many ebook stores will you be in?

Don’t get left behind.

Go Global In 2014.