Category Archives: Baker & Taylor ebooks

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?

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 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.

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 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.

Scribd – What It Is And Why You Should be There

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The first Scribd results are in for Smashwords, and it’s looking good.

Over at the Smashwords blog Mark Coker reports “It was the largest first-month sales for any new Smashwords retail partner in the last five years.” April figures were even more impressive.

Coker also reports on a Scribd promo dedicated to indie authors. Check out the Smashwords blog for more details.

Not in Scribd? You’re not alone.

Scribd is a fine example of the parallel universes readers and authors inhabit. Many indie authors have never heard of Scribd, and even fewer have given it a second thought a venue to reach readers.

Yet Scribd has over one hundred million registered users globally and gets EIGHTY MILLION unique visitors each month.

No, that’s not typo. Eighty million a month!

No, not all those visitors are looking for ebooks, but many will be and that number will be increasing by the day thanks to the ebook subscription service Scribd offers.

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First, some background. Scribd has been around for a while now. It launched in 2007 as a global document sharing platform, and since as long ago as 2009 – the same year Amazon launched the KDP – Scribd has been selling ebooks.

In January 2013 Scribd soft-launched its ebook subscription service as part of its premium content offerings, with an official launch in October 2013. By the end of 2013 the ebook subscription service was one of the biggest of its kind.

Amazon famously lets you borrow a whole ONE ebook a month for free if you are a paid-up Prime member, and that free ebook comes from the limited selection available in Select, which of course will be free at some stage regardless. And of course it excludes all mainstream-published titles.

Scribd lets you pay $8.99 a month and you get to read as much as you like from an impressive range of titles from big name authors. HarperCollins, for example, has put much of their back-catalogue into Scribd.

Why would anyone want to use Scribd instead of buying from Amazon or B&N or Google Play or whatever their favourite retailer is?

The answer is very simple, and why subscription ebook services like Scribd are the new black.

Here’s the thing. When you buy an ebook from Amazon (or any other retailer – I’m using Amazon as an example because it’s the one most indies are familiar with) you don’t actually buy the ebook.

No, seriously. You may think that when you click on “Buy” and the retailer takes money from your account that means you’ve bought an ebook and it’s yours to keep. The reality is rather different.

Never mind that it’s an intangible you can never hold or touch or put on the shelf. You don’t even own the ebook once you’ve paid for it!

What you buy is the licence to read that ebook on a certain range of devices subject to the whim of the retailer. You don’t own the ebook and you never will. You can’t resell it, or even give it away when you’ve finished.

Let’s spell that out clearly, because this is going to impact on your indie author career whether you like it or not.

An ebook you “buy” from a retailer is licensed to you. It’s not yours any more than a library book is yours. Savvy readers understand this and ask themselves why they would want to pay top whack for an ebook when they might be able to get the same title on their device for a token fee from a library or subscription service.

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Of course we all know that subscription services and digital libraries are so new – America only invented them last year – that readers don’t even know they exist, so we indies needn’t worry. Just carry on as we are.

But there’s the problem. Readers. The fly in the ointment of all ambitious indie authors. If it wasn’t for pesky readers our lives would be so much simpler. Just load up to KDP and sit back and watch the cash roll in.

The trouble is, readers (who are the ones who actually pay us, remember. Amazon, Nook, Apple et al are just the middlemen in this game) don’t really care about our convenience or well-being. They just want good books at good prices, and they will go to retailers and outlets that suit them, not us.

As more and more subscription services appear, so more and more readers will migrate to them. Scribd saw three million downloads of its Android app in its first month after the official launch in October, and in February this year Scribd lunched a KindleFire app after 100,000 Scribd ebook subscription service users said they wanted to use Scribd on their Amazon device.

Pause briefly to ponder the significance. If you own a KindleFire it’s pretty much a given that you buy your ebooks at Amazon. Not compulsory, but the two tend to go hand in hand. Yet here, in the space of a couple of months, are 100,000 KindleFire owners asking for an app for their device so they can read ebooks from the Scribd subscription service.

Why? Because, as above, you don’t own your ebook from Amazon, so why buy a licence each time you want to read a book if you can pay Scribd $8.99 a month and download as many ebooks as you like?

No, Scribd hasn’t got several million titles to choose from like on Amazon, but the selection is big and growing fast as more and more publishers and authors clamber aboard.

And of course it’s not just Scribd playing havoc with the big retailer’s hopes and aspirations. Oyster currently supplies Apple iTunes and is US only, but will soon have an Android version for all devices and has ambitions on the wider world.

Both Scribd and Oyster are accessible to indies through Smashwords or Bookbaby.

The other subscription services aren’t so indie-friendly right now, but give them time… Entitle face an uphill struggle with some bizarre pricing decisions, but may yet turn their boat around. Epic, the subscription service for children’s ebooks, has recently obtained new funding and will be expanding into Europe later this year. That’s just a few from many US options.

And won’t the Europeans be delighted to finally see some subscription ebook action? That’s the problem being away from the cutting edge of the ebook industry in the US. The rest of the world are just so far behind with this ebook malarkey.

But don’t tell that to 24 Symbols in Spain, Skoobe in Germany, Riidr in Denmark or the many other subscription services around the globe, including in Russia, which many analysts are predicting will be the third biggest ebook market after the US and China before this year is out.

Total Boox in Israel is now sending ebooks to US readers and libraries.

And don’t even mention Nuvem de Livros, an ebook subscription service for Argentina and Brazil that is set to roll out across the rest of Latin America this year. Nuvem de Livros already boasts one million subscribers. If you’re not seeing many sales from Kindle Brazil, Apple Brazil, Google Play Brazil or Kobo’s Brazilian partner store Livraria Cultura in Brazil it may just be that many readers are too busy reading ebooks from Nuvem de Livros or borrowing ebooks from digital libraries instead.

Digital libraries? The other elephant in the room for indies who want to believe a certain well-known US store is the be all and end all of their existence. Because for the same reason that subscription ebook services are taking off – that you will never own the ebook you “buy” – so savvy readers are turning to digital libraries to sate their hunger for ebooks.

Last year North America’s leading supplier of ebooks to libraries in the USA and Canada, OverDrive, saw one hundred million digital downloads. The numbers this year are expected to dwarf that figure. And OverDrive is just one of many options to get your ebooks into digital libraries, not just in the US and Canada but around the world.

Oh, and as an aside Overdrive doesn’t just supply libraries. It will also get your ebooks into key retailers like Books A Million in North America, Kalahari and Exclus1ves in South Africa, Waterstone’s in the UK, and a host of other outlets globally. OverDrive has just this week signed up a deal to take content to and bring content from Japan.

And news just in – Baker & Taylor now supply ebooks to Canadian libraries. Those of you with Smashwords or Bookbaby should see some benefits.

But back to Scribd.

One of the downsides to Scribd is concerns about piracy. Scribd operate a two-tier service and the free file-sharing platform does seem open to abuse, as pretty much anyone can upload anything. The premium platforms – including the ebook subscription service – appear to have resolved this problem. The fact that a major publisher like HarperCollins has signed up with them should reassure those with concerns. Bottom line is, piracy happens. It happens on Amazon, on Kobo, etc. It’s something we have to live with.

But Scribd isn’t sitting back and hoping for the best. They have a new system in place – Book ID – to help keep Scribd a healthy place for authors. Check out the details on Book ID here.

How to get into Scribd? You can go direct, but both Smashwords and Bookbaby now offer you an easy route in. Which is best? Hard to say at this stage as Smashwords titles have just started to get results and Bookbaby is a little behind them.

If you are with Smashwords for the other subscription service Oyster then I would recommend you go to Bookbaby for Scribd. Why?

First, it’s always good to spread the load. Putting all your eggs in one basket is asking for trouble.

Second, Bookbaby has a reputation for quality which Smashwords sadly lacks. Bookbaby requires validated epubs and ISBNs, which means only the more serious indie authors go there, and there are controls over what gets through. Smashwords is a free-for-all load-what-you-like option.

Third, Smashwords also has a reputation as a Triple X porn site, which Bookbaby most definitely has not. As above, Smashwords is a free-for-all load-what-you-like option.

But let’s end on a positive note. Scribd and the other ebook subscription services, along with digital libraries, are going to be major players in the coming years as more and more readers reject the idea of paying for a licence for every ebook they read and pay a token fee to a library or a monthly fee to a subscription service and read all they want.

Whether it’s Scribd, Oyster or some other subscription option, getting your ebooks into the subscription model and the digital library distributors should be your priority.

The readers are already there. Are you?

 

 Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

Does Amazon Take Its Customers For Granted?

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No, we’re not saying it does, but this is a suggestion by a respected economist over at Forbes this week, with the attention-grabbing headline Is Amazon Making A Big Strategic Mistake?

Economics reporter Panos Mourdoukoutas opens with this observation:

Of all big strategic mistakes leaders of fast-growing corporations make, one stands out: Taking the customer for granted. Blinded by growth, these leaders assume that their products and services are unique and indispensable, so customers will always be there to buy them at any price.

Mourdoukatos was talking about Amazon’s wider customer base, not indie authors, but he could just as well have been.

As we noted in a recent post, Amazon has just 65% of the US ebook market. As noted in other posts Amazon has seen market share plummet in Germany (estimates vary from 60% to 65%), has seen market share on a downward slope in Australia (the new Kindle AU store was a desperate measure to stem the decline – down to 65%) and Kindle UK saw the supermarket ebook store Sainsbury challenge the mighty Zon head-on in 2013. With Tesco’s Blinkbox Books to launch this spring we fully expect Amazon’s UK ebook market share to be savaged in 2014.

And this is just the ebook retail markets. This takes no account of the wider ebook market share being grabbed by subscription services like Oyster and Scribd and by digital libraries supplied by wholesalers like OverDrive (one hundred million digital downloads in 2013) and other distributors.

No, you won’t see this reported on many of the Amazon-centred indie blogs, but here at EBUK we are not (and will never be) an affiliate site, which means we are totally independent. We don’t make extra money on click-throughs on ebooks to selected retailers so we have no reason to favour one retailer over another, either in listings in our daily promo newsletters or when reporting on the global ebook market scene.

That said, don’t misconstrue anything here as anti-Amazon. Amazon is still the most important retailer for most indies, and even if Amazon drops below 50% of the ebook market that still makes it one helluva player.

But indies need to be aware of the wider debates about the future of their favourite ebook store, and of the ebook markets in general. It’s not 2009 anymore, Amazon isn’t the only show in town, isn’t the biggest retailer in many countries now, and may not always be the biggest where it is now the dominant player.

The savvy indie author plans for the next five years, not the next five weeks, and to do that they need to keep an eye on where things are going, not just where they are now, and certainly not to make plans on how things were yesterday.

Bricks & clicks vs bricks & lockers

Amazon is the online giant of the world. The world’s biggest online retailer. But one that struggles year-in, year-out to make a profit. As the Forbes report notes, Amazon in 2013 “amassed close to $75 billion in revenues at razor thin margins.”

Now $75 billion in revenue is not to be sneezed at. By any reckoning that’s serious money. But Amazon brought in that money with a profit margin of just 0.37%,  and while Amazon shares are still remarkably high there’s no question the shareholders are getting restless.

To put things in context Wal-Mart is the biggest retailer in the world. Period. While Amazon brought in revenues of an impressive $75 billion, Wal-Mart brought in a rather more impressive $475 billion. While Amazon managed a profit margin of just 0.37% Wal-Mart managed a far more substantial 3.6%.

 Gunfight at the UK Corral

 Wal-Mart doesn’t have an ebook store. Yet. But it’s coming.

One possibility is for Wal-Mart to buy the (supposedly) ailing Nook, as we’ve predicted several times, or even B&N itself.

Wal-Mart has been watching the rise and rise of Sainsbury in the UK and will not miss a trick as Tesco’s Blinkbox joins Sainsbury in a pincer attack on Kindle UK that will see the mother of all price wars in Britain this summer.

Indie authors – already banned from W H Smith, and blocked from Sainsbury and Tesco (so much for Barry Eisler’s assertion that indie authors have the same distribution capacity as trad-pub  authors) – don’t stand a chance as Kindle UK desperately price-matches Sainsbury and Tesco to hold its ground.

If you’re quietly smirking at the thought of a couple of backwater British grocery stores snapping at the ankles of the mighty Zon, think again. Tesco is constantly in the top five largest and most profitable retailers in the world, just behind Wal-Mart. It has pockets more than deep enough to match anything Amazon can do, and like Wal-Mart is it past fed-up with Amazon’s constant encroaching into supermarket territory.

While the online giant Amazon talks about developing a bricks & mortar presence but never seems to get past warehouses, retail lockers and vending machines, the big bricks & mortar retailers have been very actively laying the foundation for their bricks & clicks future.

And ebooks are going to play a very big part in that. Both Sainsbury and Tesco in the UK are working very closely with the Big 5 to make sure Amazon UK’s stranglehold on the British ebook market is broken this summer.

Earlier this month is a post entitled What do we do if Amazon stops growing? Futurebook’s Philip Jones noted that UK publishers were “unfeasibly excited” by the prospect of the Tesco Blinkox Books launch.

In the US it’s no coincidence that Wal-Mart recently grabbed Nook’s top man with the connections with the Big 5 in America.

Indies complacently putting all their eggs in the Amazon basket need to see the way things are trending, not the way things were. Change happens, with or without us.

Prime reasons for diversifying your marketing strategy

As we reported yesterday, while Amazon had nothing to say about ebook sales growth in its report for 2013 it was a very different story for Kobo, reporting over 40% growth.

Indies who choose to go exclusive with Amazon rely on the co-called “free bounce” (the sales boost that comes after a free run using KDP Select) and Prime loans (Select ebook titles are available for Prime members to borrow free) to counterbalance the lost revenues on other platforms.

But a glance at any indie forum will show most authors are seeing ever-dwindling returns with the free bounce. Prime borrows were a novelty a year or so back but with ebook subscription services like Oyster and Scribd (among many) offering all you can read for  $10 a month, and digital libraries offering more and more, the ability to borrow one book a month free with Prime from a very limited selection of Select titles is ever-less exciting.

In a report entitled “Amazon Prime memberships poised to tumble with price hike” last week Investor’s Business Daily noted,

After posting disappointing fourth-quarter results on Jan. 30, Amazon said it’s considering raising the price (of Prime membership).

Of course a rise in the price of Prime will be just one of many price hikes across the Amazon spectrum. We’ve already seen Amazon cut back on free delivery in both the US and UK, and other cost-cutting exercises are expected, along with price rises, as shareholders get ever more restless that the world’s largest online company can’t make a profit.

Yes, it’s been investing heavily, but so have Wal-Mart and Tesco, and they seem to manage just fine. In the Forbes report we opened this post with, Panos Mourdoukoutas, talking about over-capacity and weakening demand, concludes,

But with customers resisting a price hike, Amazon may find itself with too much capacity in the face of slowing demand, extinguishing already thin profit margins.

Is Wall Street ready for this prospect?

Never mind Wall Street. Are indies?

Retailer Round-Up

Amazon – all Amazon sites are accessible direct through KDP or through pretty much all aggregators.

Kobo – direct through Kobo Writing Life or through most aggregators.

OverDrive – direct or through Ebook Partnership.

Scribd – direct or through Smashwords or Bookbaby.

Update: we are advised Bookbaby’s feed to Scribd is purely for the Scribd store, not for the subscription service. For that you need to be with Smashwords. Thanks to Jim for the tip.

Oyster – through Smashwords.

W H Smith – not a chance.

Sainsbury – not a snowball’s chance in hell.

Tesco Blinkbox Books – not a fire-proofed snowball’s chance in hell even if you say please.

Update: There may be a back door into Tesco Blinkbox Books after all, See comments, and thanks to Jen for the tip.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter

Far more than just the UK

Digital Libraries, Subscription Services and Post-it Notes

GoGlobalIn2014_500You may think Post-it Notes – those delightful little yellow squares of paper that stick just where you need them but never where you don’t – have little to do with ebooks. But the ebook world is always stranger than you think.

POSTIT LOGO

We’ve mentioned in previous posts that the wholesaler OverDrive saw over one hundred million digital downloads in 2013, and that five million of those came from just five libraries in the US, and another million from a single library in Canada.

Indie authors largely dismiss libraries as irrelevant to their private little world, where readers are expected to pay cash up-front to a big retailer like Amazon that’s easy for the author to upload to, or go to hell.

But libraries have been at the forefront of literacy and book discovery pretty much since books were invented. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the Sahara Desert in West Africa one library in Timbuktu (yes, it’s a real place!) had more books than the prestigious university libraries of Renaissance and Enlightenment England.

In the twenty-first century, in England and America and pretty much everywhere else, libraries, far from becoming redundant as books go digital, are experiencing a whole new lease of life providing digital content to a public with an insatiable appetite for more.

Not just by making books available from established authors and publishers, but by publishing their own books and ebooks, and helping local authors do the same.

One library in Tennessee is leading the way, having partnered with IngramSpark to set up its own library self-publishing platform – both print and digital. The primary aim is to make the new books they create available in the library, with all the revenue coming back to the library. But of course they will also be putting these new titles out for sale on retail platforms, and for borrowing through other libraries.

Early days, but this is one more example of market fragmentation shifting reader focus away from the handful of mega-retailers that most indies are almost exclusively focussed on.

Too many indie authors have their heads in the sand about the way things are developing out there. Wake up and smell the coffee! Subscription ebook reading and library ebook reading are the new black.

Why pay Amazon, or B&N, or Kobo, or Sony for every single ebook you read when you can pay a token fee at the library or a monthly subscription and read as much as you like, with exactly the same ease and convenience as from an online retailer?

That may not be your thinking, but as the OverDrive numbers show – one hundred million digital downloads last year – it is the thinking of a growing number of people. We can expect the OverDrive numbers to at least double this year. More likely they will grow multi-fold.

Here’s the thing. You don’t own the ebook from Amazon or Sony or Google Play, any more than you owned a print book borrowed from the local library. Not convinced? Read the small print in the Kindle user agreement, for example.

Upon your download of Digital Content… the Content Provider grants you a non-exclusive right to view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times, solely on the Kindle or a Reading Application… and solely for your personal, non-commercial use. Unless otherwise specified, Digital Content is licensed, not sold, to you by the Content Provider.

An Amazon ebook (or from any other big retailer – their T&Cs are almost identical) is licensed to you. It will never be yours, to lend, sell or otherwise recycle. It’s just an expensive way of borrowing ebooks long term.

The reasons most people progress from libraries to buying print books from bookstores are a) ownership and b) convenience. Digital libraries and ebook subscription services level the playing field.

As more and more readers come to this realization so more and more readers will gravitate to digital library and subscription services.

Don’t let these exciting opportunities to reach readers pass you by! These outlets are not going to cannibalize your beloved Amazon sales. They are going to compliment them.

In the USA it’s Oyster, Scribd and Entitle that are leading the way with ebook subscription services. Yay! Go, Go, USA!

Though actually ebook subscriptions have been around in Europe for several years.

Denmark does them. Germany does them. Even Russia does them. Spain’s 24 Symbols has been going for several years and – you’ll like this – it has an English-language portal and offers English language ebooks!

Like we said at the top, the ebook world is always stranger than you think.

OverDrive and Ingram got a brief mention above. Just two of the big wholesalers that supply ebooks to libraries (and retailers) around the world. There are others.

If you are with Smashwords then you may be getting into some libraries through Baker & Taylor. If you are not with Smashwords, which also gets you into the Oyster and Scribd subscription services, then you really need to take a second look at your distribution pattern. Smashwords is far from perfect, but the above outlets, along with Flipkart, India’s biggest online store, are places you could be gaining new readers for your titles, and Smashwords is an easy route in..

The number of digital libraries is going to expand rapidly over the next few years, at home and abroad, soaking up readers who might otherwise have gone to the big retailers we all know and love. Those OverDrive numbers will go from hundreds of millions to off-the-scale in the coming years.  Will any of them be your ebooks?

It’s not 2009 anymore. You need to be in the wholesaler catalogues and as many distribution channels as possible, if you want to stay ahead of the game. And that means not just the obvious places.

We began this post with a mention of Post-it notes. Post-it notes are made a company you’ve possibly seen the logo for but have never given a second thought to. Take a look at the bottom right hand corner of the Post-it logo above.

3M LOGO

Never heard of them? Don’t worry. They’ve never heard of you.

But here’s the thing. 3M don’t just make Post it notes. They are a global production and services operation that have a surprisingly diverse portfolio. Among the many strings to their bow 3M one of the leading suppliers of ebooks to libraries in the US through the 3M Cloud Library eBook Lending System.

If your local library uses the 3M Cloud you can download ebooks from the library direct to your Nook, Kobo, iPad or iPhone, or your Android device. But as their site says, “The 3M Cloud Library is not currently supported by Amazon.” Draw your own conclusions…

This week 3M took their first tentative step abroad with a foray across the border into Canada. Given 3M’s impressive global reach across a diverse range of products we can safely assume 3M has further international expansion in the pipeline.

The ebook world is changing by the day, getting bigger, better, faster. It doesn’t care for geographical boundaries, myopic indie authors unwilling to step outside their comfort zone, or how many of your ebook sales currently come from Retailer A or Retailer B that make you dismiss the rest as irrelevant.

The ebook market is driven by readers, not writers. It’s something a lot of indies seem to have trouble grasping. So let’s spell it out.

We authors only supply the content.

Readers supply the demand.

If your titles are not in the outlets where the readers are getting their ebooks from around the world – be it Uncle Joe’s 24/7 Mini Ebook Store & Car Wash, the latest ebook subscription service, or the digital library at the end of their digital road – they will just read another author’s books instead. It’s your loss, not theirs.

it’s not rocket science. Being available is half the battle.

Go Global In 2014.

Or be left behind.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far More than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

Going Global in 2014 is easier than you think. Ease into the New Year with Eason.

Go Global In 2014

Happy New Year!

Later this month we’ll be officially launching our Go Global In 2014 campaign – its purpose to build awareness among indie authors of the incredible opportunities emerging for ebooks and print in the international markets.

And yes, you did read right. Opportunities for print. As we’ll be reporting in another post shortly, POD is set to take off big-time, and though many indie authors haven’t realized it, indie POD titles are potentially now available worldwide on an unprecedented scale – bizarrely your print books have even better distribution that most ebooks! So much so that we will soon be including links to your print titles alongside the ebook links in our global promo newsletters. More on that at a later date.

But to kick off 2014, and appreciating some of you may be the worst for wear after the New Year’s Eve partying, we’re going to ease you in with a look at Eason.

eason_logo

 Who?

Unless you live in or have visited the Irish Republic or Northern Ireland then the name may be meaningless to you, but for many Irish readers Eason (often referred to as Eason’s) is their first port of call, and should be high on your distribution agenda. Ireland is a key English-language market. Not huge – just 4.5 million people in the Republic – but certainly too big to ignore.

For those of you outside the British Isles wondering what’s going on with this talk of two Ireland’s let’s just say the island of Ireland has a complicated and turbulent history and for myriad reasons we shan’t address here the Emerald Isle is divided into the Irish Republic in the south and Northern Ireland in the north. Both are part of the British Isles. The Irish Republic is an independent nation. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom (but not Great Britain – we told you it’s complicated!). They both speak English as their main language, but use different currencies. The Irish Republic uses the euro. Northern Ireland the British pound.

Apple, Google Play and ‘txtr all have dedicated Ireland ebook stores selling to readers in the Irish Republic in euros. So does Nook, but only on Windows 8 (it’s a long story). They also have dedicated UK ebook stores selling to the UK (of which Northern Ireland is a part, remember!).  Amazon has a UK ebook store only. Readers in the Irish Republic are redirected to Amazon UK where they pay in a foreign currency – the British pound. Alternatively they can play with their country settings and access Amazon US in which case they pay in another foreign currency – the US dollar.

When Amazon was the only show in town it was a case of like it or lump it, and of course many Irish readers loved it and still buy from Amazon, own a Kindle, etc. For ebooks Amazon almost certainly hold the lion’s share of the market.

But nowadays there are plenty of alternatives and, hard though it is for many indies to grasp, as more print readers make the transition to digital Amazon will not always be their first port of call, either for devices or for ebooks.

Important to understand that while indie authors, because of the wonderful opportunities offered by KDP, bought into the Amazon ecosystem as early adopters, for those mainstream readers looking at the digital option now and in the future it is no longer a choice between a cheap Kindle, an expensive Sony device or an even more expensive Apple i-gadget.

The world of e-reader and tablet devices has changed beyond all recognition since 2009, and if you can bear to step away from the comfort of the writers blogs and look at the wider e-publishing and electronics blogs and news sites you’ll find that even within the US and UK there are more choices of e-reader and tablet devices than you can shake a stick at.

Oh, and did we mention smartphones? As we’ll be reporting in another post shortly, Russia is shipping truckloads of smartphones into Europe right now that have something rather special – dual e-ink and LED screens. Yes, e-ink smartphones!

Our point being, while all us indies were, rightly, lauding Amazon for its self-publishing portal and the Kindle devices and ebook stores, the rest of the world hasn’t sat back and let Amazon dominate like it did in the US and UK.

When these new smartphones and tablets are bought – often in countries where Amazon blocks downloads or imposes surcharges – then these people are not going to be downloading the Kindle app for their device. They’ll download an app they can actually use, and most likely they’ll use the apps that come pre-installed.

For the Tesco Hudl in the UK that means Google Play and Blinkbox. For Windows 8 devices and some Samsung devices that means… Wait for it… Nook. Yes, Nook rolled out across Australia and numerous European countries at the tail end of 2013 with a restricted platform international menu. More on Nook soon.

When you send your titles out through Smashwords you may well have ticked the Baker & Taylor box, just because its there. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? But who ever heard of Baker & Taylor?

You’d be surprised. Among Baker & Taylor’s retail outlets is a rather neat little ebook site called Blio.  Check it out. You may even find you have titles there for sale!

110bliologo

Big deal, you say. Blio? Another here-today-gone-tomorrow hare-brained start-up to ignore.

Well, we’ll be looking at Blio in detail soon, but for now just to point out they are a specialist site for mobile devices – devices like smartphones and tablets, that have been about since 2010.

And here’s the thing: many smartphones and devices come with Blio pre-installed as the default e-reader. Notably in India, where two new mobile-based ebook stores are set to liven up the Indian ebook market big time. Needless to say we’ll be looking at India in detail soon.

Blio may have brought you zero sales so far (though some indies are doing rather well there!) but Blio is one to watch, and one to be in. So-called m-commerce – sales via tablets and smartphones – are set to soar beyond your wildest imagination over the next year or two, especially globally. Stores like Blio (there are plenty of others) will have their day. They may not match up to Amazon, but you’d be crazy to dismiss what they can and will offer.

As we’ll be reporting in another post shortly, Amazon has seen its German market share decimated by, of all things, home-grown German ebook stores and home-grown German e-readers and tablets. You’ve probably never heard of the Tolino Alliance, but if you want to sell ebooks in Europe’s second biggest English-language market then it’s time you became familiar and got your tiles in their stores. More on the Tolino phenomenon soon.

It’s a similar story everywhere. If you’re seeing most of your sales come from Amazon, and mainly from Zon US or Zon UK that’s quite understandable. We indies pretty much all start out that way. But be aware there are lots of indie authors who are selling more on other platforms than they are on Amazon. No, seriously. We’ll be inviting some of them to share their secrets here on the EBUK blog in the near future.

But for now consider this: Amazon’s ebook market share is estimated to be about 65% in the US, Australia and Germany. It’s still holding higher in the UK, but not for long. It used to be 90% in all these countries. If you are still seeing 90% of your sales come from Amazon then you really need to look again at your distribution and marketing.

sopeacefulhere

Remember, being on other platforms does not mean you will sell less on Amazon. Quite the opposite –  your Amazon sales will probably go up significantly. Not convinced? We’ll be having some guest bloggers along soon to share their experiences.

As market fragmentation accelerates and more and more smaller players jump on the ebook wagon some (not all, but a significant number) of these smaller retailers will grow in importance. Even some of the micro-sites and new start-ups that logic say haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of finding a single reader will thrive and prosper.

And if you are in them you can grow with them.

Eason is one such small player.  If you’re not in the Eason ebook store you could be missing out on significant sales in 2014-15.

*

 Eason are based in Dublin and are by far the biggest bookstore chain in the Irish Republic and a key player in Northern Ireland. They are Ireland’s equivalent of Barnes & Noble or Waterstone’s, with some 60 bricks and mortar stores for a population of 4.5 million. Compare B&N with 673 stores but serving a population of over 300 million to understand that the Irish love reading.

With sixty stores across the Emerald Isle (they accept both British and Irish currencies), including the key airport sites, Eason have the eyeballs – and the custom – of a lot of Irish and British readers.

And here’s the thing: Those readers who have remained loyal to Eason so far rather than go for the undoubtedly cheaper and broader selection of print books from Amazon, are unlikely to suddenly transfer their allegiance as they make the transition to digital. If they can buy a device and ebooks from the same store, they will.

Eason understood this and have had an ebook store for a while now, which was initially indie-accessible through the wholesaler catalogues. They had ambitious plans to launch their own ereader to go with their old Eason ebook store. A very savvy, but also very expensive move.

But in the end they changed their mind and in late 2013 partnered with Kobo. The exact reasons are unclear but it may well be to do with their acquisition of the rival booksellers Hughes & Hughes, who were in talks with Kobo at the time.

As we hit 2014 the transition is pretty much complete. Eason now sell and widely promote Kobo devices, and the Kobo store is seamlessly integrated with the Eason website. In theory any ebooks you have in the Kobo store will be available from Eason.

Theory and reality of course do not always coincide, especially where Kobo is concerned. Kobo’s partnership stores have been a mixed bag, from the excellent (Chapters Indigo in Canada and National Book Stores in the Philippines), to hit and miss (Angus & Roberston, Bookworld and Collins in Australia, Whitcoulls and PaperPlus in New Zealand), to disappointing (Crossword and W H Smith in India) to the downright disastrous (W H Smith UK).

Too soon to judge the Kobo-Eason partnership as indie titles are still filtering through, but it looks promising so far.

A couple of final notes on Eason. Like all innovative bricks and mortar stores they offer more than just books on shelves. Pop-Up Book Stores were in the news in 2013, but Eason were doing them, with m-commerce integration – way back in 2012.

easonpopupstore

Visit their website and you’ll find they have a ton of attractions to keep readers coming back to their store – the BookBind book-club initiative, for example.

easonBookBindlogo

Or Easonology (check it out!).

Once again, it’s important to step outside the indie-author box now and again and see the bigger picture. One of the reasons so many book store chains and indie bookstores have survived and will continue to survive the onslaught of choice and cheap that Amazon offers is because these stores can and do compete in other ways.

As we kick off 2014 there are untold and unprecedented opportunities for savvy indie authors to find new readers, hit new best-seller lists and even make money selling their titles in old, new and yet to be created markets.

Amazon is of course an essential part of any author’s toolkit – don’t ever misconstrue anything you read here to be anti-Amazon – but it’s not 2009 and Amazon is not the only game in town, even at home, let alone in that big wide world beyond.

Don’t be daunted by the challenge of the international markets. Yes, there’s more to it than just ticking the world rights box in KDP (as we’ll be explaining soon, the Amazon KDP world rights list bears little relationship to where Amazon actually sell ebooks). And yes it will require some effort on your part to get your titles into the international markets. But, thanks to retailers like Kobo partnering with stores like Eason, you are already well on the road to global ebook reach.

Going Global In 2014? It’s easier than you think!

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just another promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

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.