Category Archives: Australia ebooks

2016: The Year So Far For Internationalist Indie Authors

2016 The Year So Far

2016 is simply racing by. Either my calendar is on amphetamines or February’s gone, April is looming, and we’re well on the slippery slope to 2017, with 2020 just around the corner.

A step nearer to the the first decade of 5G and the Internet of Things. A decade that, for publishing, is going to make the tumult of the 2010s seem rather tame by comparison.

I’ll be re-visiting the future as we go, because any of us planning on still being on the writing and publishing circuit in the 2020s needs to be preparing now for the challenges ahead.

But we also need to keep one eye on the present because, to paraphrase John Donne, no writer is an island, and events unfolding around us largely unnoticed now will determine all our futures.

So I’m kicking off March with a look back on how 2016 is shaping up so far for us internationalist indie authors looking at the bigger picture than next month’s pay-cheque. (A reminder there, for any new readers, that I write in British English!).

And a reminder too that I live and write in West Africa, and sometimes the distractions of Third World life play havoc with my blogging schedule.

This is my first blog post in over a month. But I do post far more frequently – pretty much every day, often several times a day – over at the International Indie Author Facebook Group. (LINK)

While blogs have a permanence and discoverability Facebook sorely lacks, Facebook Groups are great for interaction. It’s a telling point that the Facebook Group, with fewer members than there are followers of this blog, gets far more productive, daily engagement than the blog does.

So do pop along and sign up to the IIA Facebook Group and enjoy daily reflections on Going Global.

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Meantime, back to 2016 so far.

Amazon is lining up suppliers for a new music subscription service intended to go head to head with Apple’s music subscription option and to challenge the established music subscription players like Spotify.

Currently Amazon offers a limited music subscription service option free to Prime members, but this latest move – expected to materialise in the latter half of this year – indicates the mighty Zon has bigger ambitions than just keeping Prime members on board.

It begs the question, where does Amazon go from here with subscriptions? And more pertinently for us, ebook subscriptions?

I’ve long suggested Amazon will, when the time is right and the costs are down enough, make Kindle Unlimited available free to Prime members.

KU may have a million titles, but in real terms the choice is limited, just like the Prime music and video selections.

But whereas Prime members get the music and video free they are asked to pay full price for KU (aside from the one free title a month).

The logical next step would be to make KU available free to Prime members in its current format, and then re-launch KU proper as a “real” ebook subscription service, dropping the exclusivity condition.

Dropping the exclusivity condition for self-publishers for the extended KU could bring into the game the titles of the many indie authors who play the wider game and are therefore excluded from KU by Amazon’s current rules.

That would be a win for the revamped subscription service – lots of new content to attract paying subscribers – and also a further income stream for authors.

But also a win for Amazon’s wider game, undermining the subscription competition.

It may seem like there is no competition to KU, especially now Oyster is out of the game, but to the extent that’s true at all, it’s only true in the US and UK.

Internationally subscription services like Bookmate, 24Symbols and Mofibo are doing just fine, and in the “home markets” niche subscription services are also doing well, while a new global subscription service, Playster, may yet surprise us.

Given Google has soaked up the Oyster team and skills-base it seems likely Google Play will enter the ebook subscription scene at some stage, perhaps with an international service to compete with Bookmate, Playster and Scribd.

And then there’s Apple.

Pundits like to dismiss Apple as a hardware firm that dabbles in content-supply, but that’s self-evidently untrue. Apple has plenty of content ambitions or it wouldn’t have introduced a music subscription service or be fielding 50+ global ebook stores.

Yes, Apple will remain primarily focussed on hardware, just as Amazon remains primarily focussed on e-commerce but dabbles in hardware and building its own content creation. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Last year Apple entered the music subscription game – something Amazon is now preparing to respond to. And while there are no indications yet that Apple is sounding out big pub on launching an ebook subscription service, it‘s a safe bet that it’s on the way.

For Apple, it’s an extra income stream for very little effort as they already have some 50 global iBooks stores. And of course it would be an extra arrow in their quiver to attract buyers to their hardware, which is the whole point of Apple’s content ventures. For the many publishers who don’t have a problem with subscription services per se, but are studiously avoiding KU for obvious reasons, an Apple subscription service would be welcomed.

And in another slow puncture in the wheel of Apple- isn’t-interested-in-content it’s just been announced Apple’s first original TV series is being made.

Something to keep an eye on as this year unfolds.

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But music subscription is not the only content push Amazon is planning.

Currently Amazon is advertising for new technicians to take Audible to a whole new level. I’ll be covering this in detail in a dedicated post on audio shortly.

And yet another event on the Amazon horizon is the arrival of an Amazon used-ebook store.

At the moment it’s only an industry rumour, and there’s no real indication of how this might work, or what its impact might be.

My guess is an Amazon used-ebook store would, like KU, be aimed at the indie circuit. I’ll reflect on why in another post, as so much else to cover right now.

Video, for example.

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Amazon has been actively building its film and TV production arm and clearly has ambitions far beyond simply adding to the free content available for Prime members.

Video is big business. Not just in the US but globally.

Of course, film and TV have long been available worldwide. Nothing new there. But what is new is a) the scale and b) the delivery.

Here in West Africa freeview satellite dishes are everywhere, for those lucky enough to have electric. That’s the same across the world. But old-fashioned satellite broadcasts are a hang-over from the twentieth century, like analogue TVs.

As the Globile (global mobile)  New Renaissance unfolds, access to video – by which I mean mainstream film and TV, not just three-minute home-made footage of a playful kitten on Youtube – is moving to new heights, delivered by mobile broadband.

As the world goes globile (global mobile, don’t forget!) and internet speeds and reliability move to new levels, pretty much the entire globe is within reach of mainstream video, just as pretty much the entire world can now access our ebooks.

Netflix kicked off 2016 with an expansion into 130 new countries, including Pakistan, South Korea, Turkey and Russia, taking Netflix’s reach to 190 countries globally, and in twenty languages.

“In 2016 (Netflix) plans to release 31 new and returning original series, two dozen original feature films and documentaries, a wide range of stand-up comedy specials and 30 original kids series. Netflix will also work to make the rest of its content available worldwide, so it offers the same programming in each market.” (LINK)

So let’s be clear on this. Netflix will be showing classic film and TV from our western culture, making it available around the world to audiences eager to lap it up. And pay for the privilege.

Books are no different. We only have to look at the bestseller charts around the globe to see how translations of top-selling American and British books are being devoured by eager readers in countries are removed from the culture of the US and UK.

Don’t think you need to be a Stephen King or an E.L. James to sell well abroad. Indies can do it too. Those of us who have made the effort to reach out to global audiences have, both for our translations and English-language originals, found a positive reception. Number one on Kindle China, anyone?

But we don’t need to stop at books. Savvier indie authors will be looking at operations like Netflix and asking ourselves – “Can they use my content?”

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If the Netflix scenario were a one-off story, this would still be significant But it’s far from one-off.

A South Korean TV subscription player in January expanded across Asia, observing astutely, “Korean content travels well”.

Hard on the heels of HBO announcing (end 2015) plans to stream video in Spain later this year and the global expansion of Netflix in January, Spain’s Telefonica announced plans to create and broadcast eight to ten series a year, starting in 2017. While Spanish-language focused Telefonica also plans to team up with other major European studios for co-produced English-language works.

January also saw the news that UKTV is to launch a new flagship subscription service called ‘W’ (don’t ask!) laden with original shows.

Steve North, W’s general manager, said, “We have a treasure trove of compelling original commissions, our own crown jewels.”

The tagged report notes that “UKTV’s investment in original content has pulled in millions more viewers to its portfolio of channels”. (LINK)

These are just a few among numerous similar developments as the Global New Renaissance blossoms, allowing countless new players to not just distribute but to create original content.

Which means production studios around the globe are screaming out for new content that can bolster their catalogue. Not just the big Hollywood film and TV studios and their equivalent in other countries, but the upstarts like Amazon Studios, Netflix, HBO, etc and the perhaps less-well known but still big enough to pack a punch producers like UKTV.

No, we don’t need to be professional screenwriters to be excited by this.

Yes, we can stay as we are, fingers crossed, and dream. it’s always possible someone will stumble across our works and want to option them for a TV series or a film. It happens.

But savvy indie authors will be proactive, not trusting to luck.

As I’ll be exploring in detail sometime soon, there are a number of agents who specialize in licensing IP rights for other media. There are also a number of agencies operating IP databases where production teams go to search a database as an easy way to find good content that by definition is available for licensing.

And then of course we have the option to approach production studios ourselves with our titles and show why they would work in other media, or to partner with a third party to produce a script/storyboard/whatever that will get the attention of those production studios. Amazon has its own film storyboarding software available free to use!

Several big publishers are setting up units specifically to team with video-production studios to develop their book titles in other formats, and the only thing stopping indies getting in on the act is our own tendency to think of ourselves as “ebook authors”.

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Moving back to books, and potentially good news on the horizon for indies looking to reach Australia’s readers. Amazon is launching The Book Depository in Australia (LINK), possibly as a prelude to a wider Amazon AU store down the road to compliment the Kindle AU store.

The Book Depository sells print, so is not on the radar of most indies because of our unhealthy focus on ebooks even at “home”, let alone in markets in far flung lands like Australia.

Equally safe to say that for most indies the Australian ebook market is the Kindle AU store, although there are numerous other options to read ebook readers in Australia.

With ebooks accounting for about 7% of total book sales in Australia right now, and ebook take-up growing by 26% per year, it’s worth taking Australia seriously.

That means at the very least being available on Kobo AU, Google Play AU and Apple AU, while for the more ambitious among us there are plenty of other players.

Angus & Robertson, for example, which is supplied by Kobo.

While some smaller AU ebook retailers lost the battle for survival (JB Hi-Fi and Big W both called it a day) other players are holding their own.

Not least Booktopia.

Amazon’s The Book Depository is the biggest player in Australia for on-line print titles even before it sets up shop in situ, but the second largest on-line bookseller is Booktopia, which last year bought out Bookworld, previously owned by Penguin Random House.

Booktopia doesn’t give out ebook stats but it shipped ten million print books last year and expects that to increase now it’s absorbed Bookword’s customer base.

Booktopia expects to sell $80 million worth of print titles in 2016. Amazon, boosted by the Book Depository local-launch, is on target to sell $200 million of print titles.

How much of that $280 million Australian print market will indies be getting a share of?

Very little, no doubt.

As we all know, trad pub has an oh-so-unfair advantage because it can get books into bricks and mortar stores and we indies can’t. Or so the chant goes.

The reality, of course is that indies can, if we make the effort, get print books into bricks and mortar stores, at home and around the globe.

But that debate is academic here because that $280 million market being discussed is all on-line sales, not though bricks and mortar stores.

Very unhelpful for us looking for any excuse to take the path of least resistance. Great news for those of us who are serious about becoming international bestselling authors.

But let’s stay briefly with ebooks. For indies looking at Australia, aside from Kindle AU there is Apple AU, Google Play AU and Kobo AU, as well as the aforementioned Kobo partner store Angus & Robertson. Then there’s Booktopia’s ebook store and beyond that smaller but still significant players like QBD.

If our books aren’t in these stores then obviously Australian readers who frequent these stores will not be able to buy them. It’s that simple.

Being available is half the battle.

How to reach Australian ebook readers? Amazon, Apple and Kobo are easy enough to get into, of course. Google Play not so much, as neither Smashwords nor Draft2Digital distribute to Google Play. Luckily for us, both StreetLib and PublishDrive do.

To get into QBD we need to be in the Copia catalogue, and to get into Booktopia the Ingram catalogue is required.

Yeah, I know. It’s a cruel world. How dare they make life difficult for us over-worked, under-paid indies.

But here’s the thing. The retailers are responding to consumer demand. For some obscure and unfathomable reason consumers prefer to buy from stores that are convenient for them not for us.

Yes, it would be great if readers the world over were all thinking, “Those poor indie authors trying to do it all on their own… Why don’t we all buy from one store to make their lives easier and then they can spend more time writing and less time trying to maximise their distribution.”

But the reality is, our typical reader no more cares about us as authors of the books than we do about the screenplay writers who create the TV dramas and films we ourselves love to watch.

And let’s be honest with ourselves here. How many of us could even name, let alone care about, the writer or writers who wrote that TV drama we were enthralled by last night? Or the latest blockbuster film we watched at the cinema last week?

Exactly.

Bottom line is, it’s our choice. We can put consumers first or put ourselves first.

The path of least resistance is always there if we want to walk it.

But we wouldn’t be here reading this in the first place if that were the case, so take a deep breath and check out Ingram and Copia distribution if you haven’t already.

Australia, with urban populations separated by huge distances, is perfect online-store territory for both print and ebooks, and perfect long-term ebook territory now smartphones have replaced dedicated ereaders as the primary reading device.

Most Australians speak and read English meaning there’s no need for translations to reach this lucrative overseas market.

Yet indies seem largely indifferent to Australia’s charms. Even Australian authors seem to obsess more about the US market than building a fan-base at home. Which is crazy when a glance at any Australian bookseller – print or digital – shows the retailers obsessively promote home-grown Australian talent.

Whether Booktopia can hold its own when The Book Depository goes live in Australia remains to be seen, but the one certainty is the Australian book market – for English-language print, ebooks and audio alike – is worth taking seriously.

I am. How about you?

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Coming back to Amazon yet again, and Kindle Unlimited launched in China last month.

But don’t get too excited. Unless our ebooks are in the Kindle China store in the first place then we’ll not be there.

The good news, for those of us who are there, is that there is no exclusivity conditions so we can continue to reach reads on China’s many other and mostly bigger, ebook retailers while still getting the benefits of KU-China.

Kindle China is not part of the KDP set up, so there are none of the Kindle star names in KU-China to compete with.

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Finally for today, and staying with China:

More Than Half Of China’s Population Is Now Online!

Last summer I reported that India has more people online than the USA has people in it.

2016 kicked off with news that over half of China’s people are now connected to the internet.

688 million people (50.3% for fellow maths obsessives) are connected, and 620 million of those connect using mobile devices.

A reminder, if needed, that the world is going globile. That’s global mobile for anyone who’s not been keeping up.

And also for any newcomers, a mention that the Beijing-based aggregator Fiberead will translate, produce and distribute your titles in China at no up-front cost.

But let’s come back to going globile.

More Indians on the internet than the USA has people in it. Almost twice as many Chinese on the internet than the US has people in it.

Globile – global mobile – is enfranchising literally billions of people who previously had no access to books.

Now people almost everywhere on the planet have a device in their hands that can be used to read our ebooks. As I reported at the start of the year, even Easter Island, the remotest inhabited island in the world, has wi-fi.

The US is and will remain for a while yet the biggest book market in the world. But collectively the rest of the world will dwarf it many times over in coming years.

Already in 2015 India leapfrogged the UK to become the second biggest English language book market and the sixth largest book market overall.

Savvy indies will of course remain focussed on the US and UK markets that sustain us now. But we will also be sowing the seeds for future harvests in the now nascent markets.

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

Go globile in 2016!

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

 

 

 

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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.

800,000 Ebooks Downloaded From Digital Libraries In New Zealand in 2013. How Many Were Yours?

Go Global In 2014

When we said back in January that digital libraries an subscription services were the new black and we should all be climbing on board, the suggestion fell on largely deaf ears.

Hey, don’t worry. We’re used to it!

And while the news that US and Canadian libraries had seen 100 million digital downloads through OverDrive was met with surprise, most indies didn’t see it as relevant to their lives, because most indies were not in OverDrive.

That changed this year when Smashwords fixed a deal to get indie titles into OverDrive’s library catalogue. True, there were more than few problems along the way not least when OverDrive appeared to shunt all Smashwords titles into a ghetto zone only viewable by librarians – there are today over 150,000 indie titles showing in the OverDrive public catalogue through Smashwords.

Along with a good many through forward-thinking aggregators like Ebook Partnership, who have been supplying OverDrive much longer.

New Zealand, a small country with a small population (less than 5m) saw 800,000 ebooks loaned from its digital libraries in 2013, through OverDrive and the local library distributor Wheelers. (LINK)

That was before Smashwords got indie books in, but even before that many indies had been seeing increased library traffic year on year from digital libraries, including those Australia and New Zealand, for several years.

Safe to say the 2014 figures for digital libraries in New Zealand and everywhere else will be significantly higher. And for 2015…

As we said back in January, digital libraries and subscription services are the new black. (LINK)

KU aside, that remains true.

But just like in any other outlet, while being there is half the battle, getting discovered is in large part down to you.

Find your links in OverDrive (LINK) and let people know. Tweet and FB to readers in Australia, New Zealand, etc, etc, that they can borrow your books from their local library.

We are the luckiest generation of authors ever to have lived. We have opportunities to reach global audiences quite unimaginable ten… even five… years ago.

A report just out values the global ebook market at $14.5 billion. (LINK)

OverDrive is one such portal to the world. Thanks to Smashwords it’s easier than ever to be there, and at no up-front cost.

Make no mistake, digital libraries ARE the new black, and OverDrive is the single biggest supplier of global digital content.

And there are plenty of other ways for indies to access the that $14.5bn global ebook market.

Not there? Your loss, because the readers are.

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!

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300+ Global Ebook Outlets? It’s As Easy As One-Two-FREE!

Go Global In 2014

We all know the ebook market is going global. But for most indie authors it seems we’re still partying like it’s 2009. Many of us are still exclusive with one store, or in so few other outlets that we may as well be.

Meanwhile that international ebook market just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

So just how many global ebook stores can we indie authors get our ebooks into without taking out a second mortgage and busting a blood vessel?

How does over 300 sound?

 ~

 Amazon has eleven Kindle sites, but readers in Ireland, Belgium, Monaco, St. Marino, Switzerland, Austria and New Zealand can buy from neighbouring Kindle stores without surcharges, as can South Africans. So effectively nineteen outlets covered there.

NB In theory many other countries (by no means all – over half the world is blocked totally) can buy from AmCom, but sending readers to Amazon US only to be surcharged will reflect badly on the author, as readers won’t know that the $2+ surcharge (even on “free” ebooks!) goes to Amazon, not to you. For that reason we’re counting just the above-mentioned countries for Amazon.

f you are with Apple you can add another 51 countries to the list. Apple is the second largest ebook distributor by dedicated-country reach. Extensive coverage of North America, Latin America and Europe. Not so hot in Asia or Africa.

Nook is kind of in limbo right now. Apart from the US Barnes & Noble store and Nook UK (a reminder: it’s NOT called B&N in the UK) there are another thirty or so countries served by Nook with a Windows 8 app.

At some stage they will all become fully fledged stores, maybe, but for now, let’s discount those and just add the two key Nook stores to the list.

19 Amazon stores, 51 Apple stores and 2 Nook stores means you already have easy access to 72 global ebook stores.

If you are with Kobo then in theory you’ll be in the localized Kobo stores in US, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Africa, India, UK, Netherlands, Germany, France… You’ll be in Kobo partner stores like Bookworld, Collins, Angus & Robertson and Pages & Pages in Australia, in PaperPlus in New Zealand, in National Book Store in the Philippines, in Crossword in India, in Indigo in Canada, in Fnac in France and Portugal, in Mondadori in Italy, in Livraria Cultura in Brazil, and probably a few more that aren’t springing to mind right now.

Okay, so twenty-two more retail outlets right there, taking you up to 92.

Then there’s the Indiebound stores. Indiebound is a Kobo partner project whereby bricks and mortar indie stores have a Kobo ebook store integrated with their website. As an example, checkout Poor Richard’s in Kentucky. Or The Velveteen Rabbit Bookshop & Guest House in Wisconsin. Or Octavia Books in New Orleans.

We haven’t done a full appraisal of all of the Indiebound stores yet (soon!), but there are well over FOUR HUNDRED b&m indie bookstores selling ebooks via Kobo. Some just send you to the main Kobo store. Others have a fully integrated ebook store as part of their website.

We discount the first lot here and just include those with an integrated Kobo store. Let’s play safe and say there are, very conservatively, just 50 integrated Indiebound stores with your ebooks in (more likely well over 200!).

Suddenly we’re looking at 142 retailers with your ebooks in.

If you are in ‘txtr that’s another twenty stores right now, and with six more in Latin America about to open.

162 global retail stores.

If you are with Smashwords then as well as ‘txtr you ought to also be in Blio and Versent, and in the Indian megastore Flipkart.

Bookbaby will also get you into Blio and Flipkart, and if you are with Bookbaby you can be in eSentral. E-Sentral is based in Malaysia but also has stores in Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand and Brunei.

Bookbaby will also get you into Ciando, one of the key retail outlets in Germany. And as per this link – http://www2.ciando.com/ – the Ciando ebook store in Germany is in English!

For those who haven’t been keeping count that’s 173 global ebook retailers.

Throw in All-Romance and OmniLit, which is free-access, to make that 175.

American and British indies often don’t look beyond Smashwords and D2D, and maybe Bookbaby, totally ignoring the free-access aggregators in Europe like Xin-Xii and Narcissus. We do so at our peril.

Xin-Xii will get you into the seven key Tolino Alliance stores (Hugendubel, Weltbild, Thalia, etc) that devastated Amazon market share last year. Essential places to be if you want to make it in Germany.

But Xin-Xii will also get you into Donauland in Austria, Casa del Libro in Spain, Family Christian in the US, Otto in Germany, and Libris in the Netherlands. It will also get you in the ebook stores of the mobile phone operators O2 and Vodafone.

Lost count yet? We’re talking 189 global ebook stores already.

So let’s see if Narcissus can push us over that 200 mark. Narcissus is based in Italy, and little known outside, but it a gem of an aggregator.

Quite apart from many of the stores already covered above, Narcissus will also get you in Ultima, in LaFeltrinelli, in IBS, in Net-Ebook, in Libreria Rizzoli, in Cubolibri, in Book Republic, in Ebookizzati, in DEAStore, in Webster, in MrEbook, in Ebook.it, inLibrisalsus, in Libreria Fantasy, in The First Club, in Omnia Buk, in Il Giardino Dei Libri, in CentoAutori, in Excalibooks, in Hoepli, in San Paolo Store, in Libramente, in Ebook Gratis, in Libreria Ebook, in Byblon Store, in Libreria Pour Femme, as well as numerous specialist and academic stores. Narcissus also distribute to Nokia. Yes, as in the phone company. Ebooks are still widely read on Feature phones, and Nokia leads the way.

But just those 26 examples from Narcissus take us to 215 global ebook stores.

And then there’s Google Play. You can go direct to Google Play or free (pay as you sell) through Narcissus.

Google Play have 57 global ebook stores (and more on the way).

Which takes us up to 272 ebook stores. And counting.

On top of this we can add the ebook subscription services like Oyster (US only) and Scribd (global), accessible through Bookbaby, Smashwords and (in the case of Scribd) D2D.

Then there’s digital libraries. Even leaving aside the as yet unresolved mess that is the Smashwords-OverDrive saga, indies with Smashwords or Bookbaby may be in libraries through Baker & Taylor.

Bookbaby also distribute to the wholesale catalogues Copia and Gardners, which supply libraries and also a ton more retail stores over and above those listed above.

Throw in the Copia and Gardners outlets and we EASILY cross the 300 retailer mark.

Remember, ALL these are accessible free of charge (you pay a percentage per sale).

There are other options, like Vook. IngramSpark and Ebook Partnership, which would substantially add to this list, but these options either have up-front costs or offer a very poor percentage return for free-access.

But worth noting that players like Ebook Partnership can get you not just into the OverDrive catalogue, which means an appearance in key stores like Books-A-Million, Waterstone’s, Infibeam, Kalahari and Exclus1ves, as well as the myriad OverDrive library partners, but also other key up and coming outlets like Magzter, like Bookmate in Russia, and so on and so on.

 ~

 The global ebook market is growing by the day. There are huge new markets opening up in Latin America, in India, in China, and across SE Asia right now that most indies are not a part of.

In the near future Africa will take a big leap forward as retailers make ebooks accessible to the hundreds of millions of Africans currently locked out of our cozy ebook world.

Make no mistake. The global ebook market will dwarf the US ebook market many, many, many times over as it gains momentum.

No, there won’t be many overnight successes, yes it will take time, and yes it will require a good few hours of effort to make sure you are in all these stores in the first place.

Sorry. There are no magic wands to wave. No just-add-water instant solutions.

No pain, no gain.

But you only have to upload to these stores once, and a handful of aggregators can do most of them for you in a couple of rounds, planting the seeds for future harvests. Then you just need to pop back now and again to tend the garden. It’s a one-off effort now that will pay back over a life-time as these global markets take off.

That list of 300+ stores above is just going to grow and grow and GROW as market fragmentation and international expansion gather momentum. The global ebook market has barely left the starting line!

The savvy indie author thinks about the next five years, not the next five days. Don’t get lost in the minutiae of your every-day ebook life and miss the bigger picture here.

Because we are all privileged to be part of something that is way, way bigger than just selling our books. We are witnessing – participating in – the early stages of a New Renaissance quite unparalleled in human history.

A New Renaissance on a global scale that will not just make accessible existing art forms to every single person on the planet, but will create new art forms as yet unknown, but in which we can be sure writers will play a key role.

Be part of it.

Nook UK – New E-reader. New Readers?

Go Global In 2014

Nook have just launched their GlowLight ereader in the UK. (link) A reminder that it’s business as usual for Nook even though they are due to be spun off from the B&N mother ship next year.

Will it help you get sales on Nook UK?

Yes, if you play your cards right.

Nook is still a low profile name in Britain. Nook devices are sold primarily by just two stores – John Lewis and Argos. They are available elsewhere, but as just one more device on the shelf, amid far better known brands.

The problems for Nook outside the US are two-fold. Brand recognition and late arrival.

Barnes & Noble is an unknown quantity outside the States unless you are an indie author or a regular trans-Atlantic traveller. So much so that you will be hard-pressed to even find the B&N name on the Nook UK website.

Bear that in mind when promoting. Readers have no idea what B&N is over here even though they may have a Nook ereader or tablet, or being using the Nook app. To promote to the UK and European / Australian markets don’t say B&N, say Nook UK, Nook Australia, Nook Lithuania or whatever.

But the bigger problem for Nook is late arrival. By the time Nook got to the UK the market had already been carved up by Amazon, Apple and Kobo, with a handful of domestic players joining the fray.

That’s not so say the stranglehold cannot be broken. Both Sainsbury and Tesco Blinkbox have shown it can be, very effectively, but they come at the problem from a totally different direction.

Even Google Play, with brand recognition to die for, is struggling to get a foothold in the UK, and for an unknown name like Nook it was far too little, far too late.

For Nook’s international expansion, the same applies only moreso.

That’s not to say you should write off Nook UK or Nook International as a dead loss. Far from it. It could and should be providing you with a small but lucrative stream of extra income. If it’s not, take another look at your marketing.

The Nook UK site is great. Unlike B&N it isn’t trying to sell you other products – not even print books – which means it has a clean, crisp reader interface and is not throwing smartphones, diapers or dog food in your face.

More interestingly, Nook UK is VERY often cheaper than Amazon UK.

Often, but not always. And sometimes promotions on Nook US do not carry over in timely fashion, so your 0.99 special in the US might still be showing it’s original price in the UK. And very occasionally a listing on Nook US doesn’t appear on Nook UK at all. From what I can see this tends to happen when using an aggregator.

For those who can, NookPress gives you far more control over pricing and promotion than going through an aggregator. Not least being able to set separate US, UK and Europe prices.

It’s not entirely clear what Nook is doing with its international expansion right now. At one point (late 2013) Nook was making titles available in over thirty countries, but only with a Windows 8 app.

But the NookPress dashboard now gives you the option to set a European price for France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands, with the caveat that due to high volume of content it may take time for (indie) titles to filter through.

Until Nook is formally separated from B&N it’s unlikely we’ll see much more action than what’s already underway.

The big question is who will buy out Nook next year. Microsoft seems to be favourite right now, but not by much. Samsung have abandoned their ebook project, so we can rule them out.

Three outsiders to keep an eye on are Wal-Mart, Tesco Blinkbox and Alibaba. Any of them could afford Nook out of loose change. All have an interest in digital media and in getting one up on Amazon. What better way to do that than to buy out one of the key rivals to the Kindle store and plough serious money into it to make it a serious player?

The AIS blogs delight in telling us how badly Nook is doing, but Nook has significant market share in the US and a very valuable customer data base. Whoever takes on Nook is going to have something very nice to build on if they plan on competing. And all three of those outsiders mentioned – Wal-Mart, Tesco and Alibaba – have far deeper pockets than Amazon.

Ebook Bargains UK.

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What Are The Top Five Countries For Romance Ebook Sales?

GoGlobalIn2014_500

We all know romance is a very, very popular genre and many ebooks authors are doing exceptionally well, but we also know most only focus their attention on two countries – the US and UK – and of course therefore only see results from two countries.

We’ve been arguing a long time now that the global market is worth the effort, but very few indies are taking this seriously. We ran a post here back in February stressing the significance of the Indian market for romance writers. Again, it fell on largely deaf ears.

This week there emerged some new data that shows how wrong you are to be ignoring the wider world.

What are the top five countries for romance ebooks? Obviously the US and UK take poll positions.

But in third, fourth and fifth place in order are…drum roll please…India, Australia and South Africa.

And the stores are worth looking at. Obviously it goes without saying Amazon is top, and Apple and Nook close behind. But this report from Epub Direct also cites the following stores as performing well with romance titles.

Quote:

Other sales channels that are quite virile are ebooks.com, Flipkart, Kobo, Sainsbury, Txtr, Asia Books, Fishpond and Libri.

Unquote.

For the UK, read W H Smith for Kobo, and for Australia Angus & Robertson and Bookworld.

Ebooks.com is an Australian store (the oldest ebook store still going in fact!) that sells in US dollars. Supplied via Ingram.

Sainsbury is off limits to indies, but make no mistake Sainsbury (and lately Tesco – too early for any stats for Blinkbox) are doing very well.

Txtr gets a mention. Remember Txtr has twenty global stores, and you can be sure most of Txtr’s sales are not coming from the Txtr US and Txtr UK sites… Txtr are not in India, which means Txtr sales will be coming from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and mainland Europe. If you are with Smashwords or Ebook Partnership you will be in the Txtr stores.

Flipkart is well up there, of course. See our Valentine’s post to understand why Indians love western romances.

Then there’s small players like Libri, Asia Books and Fishpond that indies just love to write off as a waste of time.

Of course Epub Direct, who compiled this report, supply a ton of other retailers too. In fact they have the best reach of any distributor, including getting titles into the key UK stores WH Smith, Sainsbury and Tesco Blinkbox, all off limits to indies.

No, Epub Direct don’t deal with indies (logistical, not philosophical – they are not anti-indie, just not set up to cater for individuals) but what they don’t know about ebook distribution and selling probably isn’t worth knowing.

If you are with a publisher make sure they know about Epub Direct and (if they are big enough) demand they sign up. For the rest of us… Well, for now they are off limits, but we’re hoping someone from Epub Direct will come and share with us their thoughts on how things migt pan out in the future.

Meanwhile, a few other key points from this report:

Subscription services are performing well for romance. Ditto for libraries except for erotica, where many libraries filter titles or – as with OverDrive and Smashwords – simply don’t want to know.

Romance titles see less blockbusters so the market is far more evenly spread and self-pubbers have a better chance of getting in. Look at any best-seller chart where indies are to see this is true.

Romance titles do well in series and are less affected by seasonal buying, so a good year round bet.

Nor is it just India. Michael Tamblyn, Kobo’s president said this week “For e-book retailers like us, it has helped Romance become a huge part of our business.” As we all know, Kobo is not amajor player in the US, so these sales are coming from elsewhere.

But to finish this post a reminder- India is the third biggest market for English language romance titles according to one of the world’s biggest ebook distributors. And no, you don’t need to write about Indian characters in Indian settings to appeal to Indian readers, as we said in the EBUK post in February, and as the new Epub Direct report shows.

 

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