Category Archives: Digital Libraries

Digital Libraries – Our Best Bet For International Reach

BiBF2016

I’ve covered the value of OverDrive and like digital library suppliers many times here, but it’s worth revisiting once more in mind OverDrive’s presence at the Beijing Book Fair last week.

From the OverDrive blog: (LINK)

“Over the last several years, OverDrive has made a significant investment to increase the amount of global content available for our library and school partners. We now offer 35,000+ Chinese titles from over 500 publishers in our online catalog, Marketplace, both in the U.S. and internationally. Additionally, Marketplace now features hundreds of thousands of titles from publishers in 63 countries and we add new titles each month in both Simplified and Traditional Chinese as well as Japanese, German, Spanish, Polish and many more languages. Titles include bestselling eBooks and audiobooks written in the native language as well as titles translated from English.”

But it’s not just about selling Chinese content in China. it’s about selling Chinese and other foreign language content globally.
From the Over Drive blog again, taking Chinese titles as an example,

“Libraries have responded by creating curated collections of community language content. Toronto Public Library, Los Angeles Public Library and Seattle Public Library all provide examples of digital collections featuring thousands of Chinese titles.”

This is where the true value of digital libraries for foreign-language content lies for us internationalist indies: accessing ex-pat and immigrant communities around the world that still want to read in their home language.

Yes, a Chinese reader in Toronto or Los Angeles could go to the Kindle CA or US store, but Amazon has less than 2,000 Chinese language titles, compared to OverDrive’s 35,000.

Many languages offered by OverDrive are simply not supported by Amazon’s Kindle store yet.

And just to add Fiberead does get our Chinese translations into OverDrive.

In other international library news, Axiell has partnered with Odlio to expand digital content offering to libraries. (LINK)

Odilo partnered with Gardners late last year to build its content catalogue.

For those targetting Latin America Odilio is a particularly good bet, and a good reason to be with Smashwords, which partnered with Odilo at end of 2015.

And also a must for those targetting that part of the world is the Latin American ebook subscription service Nubleer, which is accessible through StreetLib. (LINK)

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This post first appeared in the International Indie Author Facebook Group.

Click HERE to see the original post and join the IIA Group, your guide to going global.

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*  Ebook Bargains UK Newsletter Promotion *
Okay, so the Britain-based EBUK promotional newsletter isn’t quite Bookbub, but it does get some authors some extra sales, and plenty of authors come back to advertise with us time and time again. Not surprising with listing prices ranging from just £5 to £15 GBP.

EBUK is a not-for-profit venture and all proceeds after costs go towards supporting nursery school projects here in The Gambia.

Right now there’s a special 2-for-1 promo for IIA readers who want to use the EBUK promo newsletter to promote their titles.

Just type the code IIA-2-for-1-Promo anywhere in the metadata fields when you book a title and the guys in the UK will credit you with a free listing of equal value.

Click HERE to go to the EBUK site.

The International Indie Author
Looking at the bigger picture.

 

Smashwords Adds Tolino, Odilo and Yuzu To Its Distribution List. It’s Time To Start Taking Smashwords Seriously.

sw + tolino + Odilo + yuzu

 

Regulars here will know I’m dedicated to a diverse and healthy global ebook market, and for that reason alone I would continue to support stores like Smashwords even if they had very little to offer.

But Smashwords has lately shown, after a faltering step with the Flipkart debacle (which as it happens matters not, as Flipkart has now formally closed its ebook store) that it very much still in the game, and slowly but surely grasping the global nettle.

This past week Smashwords announced three new partners that, in Mark Coker’s own words,

“further expand the reach of the Smashwords ebook distribution network in the US, Europe and South America.” (LINK)

Actually, Mark, it does even better than that, encompassing S.E. Asia as well. More on that below.

But first, the bad news. Smashwords erotica authors need not apply. Yet again the Smashwords partner stores have followed the example of OverDrive, Flipkart and Gardners and said “No thanks” to Smashwords erotica, while all happily distributing erotica titles from other aggregators.

There’s a message there for you, Mark Coker.

But let’s stick with the good news.

How good? Well that depends on which other aggregators we use alongside Smashwords.

Let’s start with the Tolino deal.

The Tolino Alliance is, put simply a bunch of ebook stores centred in Germany (but active in neighbouring countries) that collectively packs a punch comparable to Amazon’s Kindle Germany store.

Depending on which stats you want to believe, Tolino is slightly bigger or slightly smaller than Kindle Germany.

ither way, it’s well worth making the effort for, and not only if we have German-language translations available. Germany is a major English-language market too.

If the only aggregator we use is Smashwords then this a great new addition, and will further our reach across western and central Europe.

But if we use Draft2Digital, StreetLib, PublishDrive or XinXii we’re probably already enjoying the benefits of distribution to Tolino. Smashwords is late to the game on this one.

No matter. It’s great to have even more indie titles flowing into the Tolino stores.

Let’s take a look at Yuzu next.

Those of us involved in the higher education sector in the USA may have heard of Yuzu, as the store is, in Mark Coker’s words,

“the digital education platform and retailer operated by Barnes & Noble College, which operates 743 college bookstores serving 5 million college students and faculty members.”

But it’s not all text books and academia.

“The agreement will make it easier for a wide range of Smashwords Premium Catalog books to be assigned for classroom use by educators,” says Coker, adding “Students can also purchase Smashwords titles for their own enjoyment outside of the classroom in the Yuzu eBook store.”

Well, we’ll have to see how that pans out.  Over at The Digital Reader Nate Hoffelder is not impressed, dismissing Yuzu as a “failed” store. Yuzu is

“still only half functional, making this a platform you should avoid if at all possible unless you want to cause more grief for students.”

Nate’s words. (LINK) Not mine. I’ve no familiarity with the store, so am diplomatically reserving judgment.

Besides, higher education is not a sector I have any plans to write towards, but never say never.

But while I’m mildly indifferent to the deal with Yuzu, I’m delighted to see the deal with Odilo.

As Mark Coker says,

“Odilo is a leading ebook supplier to over 2,100 public libraries in 43 countries across Europe (1,000 libraries), Latin America (1,000 libraries) and North America (100 libraries). In October, they announced a deal with the ministry of culture in Spain to provide ebook services to over 15 million library card holders in Spain. The company is also running preliminary pilots to expand into Australia and New Zealand.”

But it gets better. Mark Coker obviously hadn’t checked the Odilo news feed or he could have added 180 libraries in the Philippines to that list. (LINK)

The Philippines is one of my priority countries for 2016, so this deal is especially welcome.

Kobo gets our titles into the Philippines (National Book Store), and so does Google Play and eSentral, but neither Amazon nor Apple are there, so this new access point to Filipino readers is a great asset.

Coker notes,

“About 40% of Odilo’s ebook sales are books in English, 40% Spanish, 15% French and 5% German.”

40% Spanish sounds good to me! I’m already delighted with the way my Spanish translations are taking hold across Latin America, and Odilo will hopefully help find me a lot more readers both in Latin America and in Spain as the new deal with Spanish libraries takes effect.

Last year (2014-15) Smashwords reported ebook sales worth $25 million. By 2016-17 that figure could be much higher as these new stores start bringing in revenue for Smashwords and its authors.

As we begin the second half of this decade Smashwords is shaping up to be a truly global player in the aggregator field.

And just as the new globile (global mobile) reality is beginning to strike home.

Reading the industry blogs over the past six months it’s hard to find any credible commentators not now talking about the globile future. Even JK Rowling’s Pottermore is at it!

The future is globile!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Nate’s post:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But that is changing fast. Very fast.

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

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

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

And not forgetting POD.

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

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

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Speaking of Africa…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

Because they are being made available and buyable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t let them pass you by.

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

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The View From The Beach – Mark Williams At Large

Gunjur-Coastline-Gambia

We tend to focus on in-depth posts and analysis on the global publishing scene for the EBUK blog, and as the entire EBUK project is a not-for-profit operation run by volunteers it often means smaller, but no less important, items of interest get passed by.

So we asked frequent EBUK blog contributor Mark Williams to run a regular column here sharing with us pertinent shorter news stories, as ever throwing in his unique perspective as an international bestselling author and surveyor of the international publishing markets from the far shores of West Africa.

And yes, that is his local beach. As he likes to remind us, he lives the writers’ dream, hammering away at a keyboard on picture-postcard white sandy beaches lined with picture-postcard green gently swaying palm trees next to a picture-postcard warm blue ocean beneath picture-postcard blue skies.  Hey, nobody said life was fair!

The View From The Beach – Mark Williams At Large.

May Is Short Story Month. Are You Ready?

It’s actually the third Short Story Month – it started in 2013 – and momentum is gathering as more and more people look for “bite-size” reading. (LINK)

Millennials have been particularly identified with the demand for this type of material, in part reflecting the rise of smartphone reading and lifestyles where working hours are far more flexible than in days of yore.

Vintage/Anchor Books are releasing a short story every day during May to mark Short Story Month, all priced at 0.99, and I think they are on to a winner.

I also think, because I’m going down this route myself, that short non-fiction, and especially short narrative non-fiction is also the new black.

Amazon’s Kindle Singles and B&N’s Nook Snaps have already proven the demand for short digital material, and Vintage/Anchor see a lot of potential to engage readers with shorter offerings.

We were all surprised to find Millennials, the generation most comfortable with smartphones, preferred reading paperbacks to reading ebooks, but my feeling is its all to do with length. Reading a 100,000 word novel on a smartphone (as opposed to an e-ink ereader) is probably not the most pleasant of reading experiences, but for consuming a shorter work in a short space of time a smartphone may well be the ideal vehicle.

As indies we have in some way painted ourselves into a corner with our 0.99 full length novels flooding a handful of key markets, but we need to step back and view the markets from the perspective of readers, not writers. Something we collectively seem not very good at, as the huge number of exclusive-with-one-retailer indie titles shows. What better way of telling readers that what we care about is us, not them…

As the global New Renaissance gets into second gear we should all divest ourselves of any straight-jacket notions about what will sell and where, and what will be commercially viable, and likewise we should all divest ourselves of any straight-jacket notions about marketing and promotion.

Kobo Parent Company Rakuten Enters The Magazine Publishing Market. Expect Amazon To Follow Suit Soon.

I’m surprised Amazon hasn’t gone down this route yet, but with Rakuten leading the way it’s now pretty much inevitable they will do so.

Rakuten’s first venture is a fashion magazine in Japan, and rather cleverly all the fashions featured are also for sale on Rakuten’s Ichiba retail site. (LINK)

Purely speculative but I would imagine India would be the ideal place for Amazon to follow suit. Amazon’s fashion arm has been making big strides in India, and an e-magazine devoted to exposure for fashion items available on the Amazon IN store would boost Amazon’s challenge to the 600lb gorilla in the Indian e-commerce marketplace, Flipkart, which happens to own India’s 600lb gorilla e-fashion site Myntra.

If I were a betting man I’d put money on both Flipkart and Amazon launching e-magazines this year. And if I were adviser to Jeff Bezos I’d be asking why Amazon doesn’t have both an e-zine and a print zine of its own in the USA.

Career Authors Alert: Selling Rights Vs Selling Ebooks.

Here’s a White Paper that’s free to download from Publishing Perspectives. Its theme: Global Rights and Licencing.

This is only 20 pages, but well worth the time if you are serious about being an international bestselling author.

Don’t be misled by the title. A lot of indies think in terms of selling ebooks. Even thinking about selling print books is a stretch. So selling “rights” might not be something you think indies need to be bothered with.

If so, think again.

Selling “Rights” should be at the heart of your career strategy so you can let someone else worry about the donkey work of selling your work beyond your comfort zone, while you actually spend your time writing the next book.

But it’s not just about selling the book. It’s about selling the translation rights, the film rights, the TV rights, the boardwalk rights, the game rights, the…

So long as we indies are locked into the microverse of ebooks we are never going to be able to compete with the big boys.

The White Paper is mainly about global book (print and digital) rights, but also includes a very useful section on film rights – something ALL of us should be thinking about.

It also includes a “starter” for the global markets by focusing on two countries regular readers of EBUK or my posts elsewhere will know are high on my list as places to be focused on: Brazil and Indonesia.

I know few of you are convinced about Indonesia, but ponder this little gem from the report:

Of the 32,000 titles published in Indonesia in 2014, 50% were translations of foreign languages, with English the front runner.

Other snippets from the post reiterating what I’ve been saying:

“Germany is the trans-Atlantic powerhouse.”

“Japan is the fourth largest publishing market.”

“The Spanish language markets offer global opportunities.”

“Turkey is taking off.”

“Poland and the Czech Republic are showing strong signs so life.”

The global New Renaissance is a fact. It’s happening all around you as you read this. And you can be part of it. Front seat tickets are on sale right now.

Or you can be a bystander and wave as it passes you by.

Hopefully this link to the GoogleDocs download form will work for you. (LINK)

If not, pop along to the Publishing Perspectives website. (LINK)

Asia Watch 1.

 Tencent, the Chinese e-titan, has just seen its value exceed two hundred billion dollars, leaving the likes of Amazon in its wake. (LINK)

Yet another clear sign, as I’ve been warning this past few years, that the centre of digital gravity is shifting east, and we should all be focused on getting a foothold on these oriental players now, before the rest of the west wakes up and starts a stampede to climb on board.

Tencent, Alibaba, Xiaomi, JD and a host of unpronounceables I’ve been tagging these past years are now coming of age and with that come opportunities unparalleled in the west as the global New Renaissance shifts into second gear.

The upstart start-up Xiaomi has just upped its ebook game with a deal with Trajectory, Macmillan and Gardners to get western English-language ebooks into the Xiaomi store. See more on this below.

A week or so ago Tencent became for all practical purposes the biggest ebook store on the planet (except by revenue, because ebooks in China are so much cheaper) as it reinvented itself (more on this in an in-depth look at China shortly).

JD has long been one of the biggest ebook stores in China, and last year signed a deal with one of the Big 5 western players to get English-language ebooks into China, where demand for E-L literature is high.

In doing so they followed the lead of OverDrive, now ironically owned by another eastern giant, Rakuten.

Alibaba doesn’t sell ebooks yet but you can sell your print via Alibaba through its US store 11Main. Expect Alibaba ebooks soon.

As the only western indie author to have a title hit the number one spot on Amazon’s Kindle China store I’m probably better qualified than most to say savvy indies should all be making sure China is not just on their radar but on your URGENT ACTION NEEDED list.

And make sure India and Indonesia are there too, because these are among the next eastern hot-spots for indie authors willing to step outside their comfort zone.

UK and Australia Digital Libraries Now Supplied By 3M.

 The 3M Cloud ebook service is now available in the UK and Australia, having shifted north to Canada last year. (LINK)

We’ve covered 3M on the EBUK blog before and will run an update on the global library markets soon.

Here just to remind you that, erotica authors aside, you can get your ebooks into the OverDrive catalogue via Smashwords.

The pay-up-front aggregator Ebook Partnership will get you into the OverDrive global libraries (over forty countries) and also into the OverDrive retail outlets which Smashwords does not deliver to.

Or you may prefer to pop along and try Ebooks Are Forever, a new initiative by Joe Konrath to get indie titles into US libraries. (LINK)

Magzter Now Open To Indie Authors.

 The global digital magazine retailer Magzter also sells ebooks, and following a reference in a post here on EBUK recently they kindly reminded me that indie authors can now upload direct to Magzter.

Go to Magzter (LINK) and set up a publisher account and then upload your titles. They need to update the site as it seems to suggest you can only publish magazines still, but if you go through to the next stage you’ll find a portal specifically for ebooks.

I get my books into Magzter through a third party so can’t say what the experience is like, but I can say Magzter is a fast-growing global player (over 200 countries).

As most magazines are non-fiction I’m expecting non-fiction ebooks to do particularly well on Magzter, and all the more so if the subject matter ties in with the theme of the more popular magazines.

At the moment the Magzter ebook store is sparely populated and this is a great opportunity to be a big fish in a small pond if you play your cards right. My guess is many people will discover e-zines before they discover ebooks, and most of those will discover ebooks on the same site they buy their e-magazines from.

Watch out for a detailed post on Magzter soon.

 Asia Watch 2.

Xiaomi Steps Up Its E-Book Game! Are You Ready?

  Xiaomi, the upstart start-up from China, has in just five years has gone from nowhere to be one of the biggest smartphone players on the planet.

This month it has been announced Xiaomi has a deal to take western ebooks into its China store, with strong indications the ebook stores will be extended to other countries in the near future.

Nate at Ink, Bits & Pixels has the scoop. (LINK)

Trajectory recently fixed a deal with Tencent to get English-language titles into the Chinese market, and what is gobsmackingly wonderful about this new deal is that it also involves Britain’s wholesale distributor Gardners, which means there is a back door in for indies.

Needless to say l’m already in Gardners, so looking forward to seeing my English-language titles in Xiaomi alongside my Chinese translated titles which have been doing rather well in the China markets.

Yes, before you ask, there is serious demand for western E-L titles in China. Last year OverDrive did a big deal to get western content into China and in September we reported here on the EBUK blog on HarperCollins signing a deal to get its E-L catalogue into China. (LINK)

Now Macmillan has followed suit.

We’ve said on previous occasions that Xiaomi isn’t yet taking on western titles but that it will, and when it does, to jump in with both feet.

It’s happening.

And it won’t stop at just China.

Earlier this month Xiaomi sold 2.12 million smartphones in twelve hours when it did a special sales event across its outlet countries, which include key nations like Thailand and Indonesia, India, Brazil and Turkey.

If you’re serious about becoming an international bestselling author then you need to be serious about players like Xiaomi. Because Xiaomi is serious about ebooks.

Subscription Services Get Bigger & Better. Mostly.

Digital music has been around a lot longer than ebooks, in a meaningful commercial sense, but only in 2014 did digital revenue finally exceed “physical” revenue for music.

And much of that was driven by subscription. (LINK)

Meantime Netflix had a stunning Q1 picking up 5 million new subscribers (LINK) while continuing to make profit.

The naysayers love to say ebook subscription services are unsustainable, and then point to music as an example of why, but music is doing just fine and film and video subscription – far closer to ebook subscriptions than music – goes  from strength to strength.

A given ebook subscription service may come or go, but as a commercial entity the subscription model is working just fine for all digital products. For content providers? Spotify not so much for musicians, and Kindle Unlimited not so much for authors. But early days.

New subscription services are emerging by the day. The Danish subscription service Mofibo will be launching in the UK this year.

And be sure to watch out for the new kid on the block, Playster, due to go live this summer. Playster plans to offer an across the board digital subscription service with music, video, ebooks, audio, etc, all for a fixed fee.

Simon & Schuster have just signed up for Playster. (LINK)

And in separate news Penguin Random House, while still eschewing subscription for ebooks, has put its audio books into Scribd.

Back in February HarperCollins put its titles into the Russia-based subscription service Bookmate. Expect Macmillan and Simon & Schuster to follow suit soon.

Although CIS based, Bookmate is far bigger than just Russia, and is focused on targeting places Amazon blocks downloads to. But with an Amazon Russia Kindle store rumoured to be around the corner the competition between Bookmate and Amazon might be about to be heat up.

I’ve been in Bookmate a while, and can’t say as I’ve seen much action, but I have great hopes for Bookmate in the future. Bookmate is fielding a quarter million English-language titles, only a handful of which are indie. Plenty of opportunity for savvy indies to get traction in the nascent markets Bookmate serves.

Be part of the subscription ebook scene or miss out, because the readers are heading that way in their droves.

 Book Tango / Book Country – What Worries Me Is Books On Board.

 The rebranded Book Tango (LINK) has long been on my watch list, but what worries me still is the links and references to Books On Board, which went under two years ago this month. (LINK) Surely two years is time enough to get the website updated?

One good reason for looking at Book Tango was that it distributed to Google, which the main pay-as-you-sell American aggregators like Smashwords and Draft2Digital do not. But with both Xin-Xii and Narcissus able to get your ebooks into Google Play I still can see no reason to risk playing with Book Tango. But I’d love to hear from anyone who has and has some experiences to share.

+ + +

I’ll wrap this session up with something from trad pub at the London Book Fair. Yeah, thought you’d be impressed. But love it or hate it, trad pub is here to stay and doing rather well. And we can learn a thing or two from it.

At the London Book Fair Faber & Faber CEO Stephen Page talks about how a “new ecology” has emerged in the publishing industry.

Quote: “The previous ecology got hammered and challenged. A new one has emerged that is partly around the resilience and return of physical books, partly around the new confidence there is.  There is a new confidence about the options open to publishers, about the creation of value, about investing in content with confidence. There is a shift towards the consumer, which is still continuing and isn’t finished yet, and just a new confidence about the tools and opportunities open to us.” (LINK)

For those indie fundamentalists who live and breathe the “self-pub good, trad pub bad” mantra it’s bad news. Far from rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic (try finding an indie blog between 2010-2013 that didn’t say that), trad pub has sealed the hole, pumped out the water and fired up the engines again.

For authors who prefer to live outside the tribal lines it’s another sign of a wonderful future ahead for all of us who are willing to embrace the New Renaissance rather than chase archaic print dreams in digital formats.

The opportunities are just beginning to emerge, and many indies will miss most of them because many of us are still thinking books and readers. That is soooo 2009.

Look at the words Stephen Page uses. “Content” and “consumers”, “tools and opportunities”.

Yes, we can dismiss these as meaningless biz-speak, but alternatively we might want to consider that trad pub, having adamantly refused to keel over and die as the indie movement gleefully hoped back in 2009-12, might just be on to something.

For industry-watchers there is not just a new confidence but a new vibrancy in the publishing industry as 2015 gets under way. So very different from the uncertainty and near-despair that epitomised 2010-12.

Indies would do well to watch trad pub very closely, because trad pub is very clearly thinking about the next five years, not the next five weeks.

Individual publishers and bookstores may come and go, but as an industry trad pub and trad pub retail will be stronger than ever in 2020 as it embraces the tools and opportunities of the global New Renaissance.

Where will you be at in 2020? Riding high with them? Or still trying the same tactics that worked so well in 2010 and wondering what’s gone wrong?

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OverDrive Digital Library Ebook Loans Rose By A Third In 2014.

 

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Over 100 million ebooks were loaned out by OverDrive last year, along with 32 million audio-books.

Next time you read about ebooks sales slumping, ebook gluts, and other nonsense, bear in mind what we’ve long been saying: that market fragmentation is accelerating and the handful of big retailers indies have focused on are just one part of the picture. Readers have plenty of other places to obtain ebooks from.

Yes, digital libraries are eating into mainstream retailer market share, but that needn’t be bad news for authors. Just the opposite! Just like with subscription services, digital libraries are a great way for us indies to reach new readers and develop new fan-bases. And yes, authors do get paid for ebooks loaned through libraries.

Until last year getting into digital libraries wasn’t at all easy for indie authors, but the few that did reaped the rewards. Some indies have been with OverDrive for years, and have seen global downloads not just in the UK and US but notably from libraries in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Now, thanks to Smashwords, getting into the world’s biggest library distributor, Overdrive, is relatively straight-forward for most genres. (Note, erotica authors will need to try a different route – OverDrive draws the line at Smashwords erotica for obvious reasons, but OverDrive does NOT have a no-erotica policy).

It’s worth noting that all the Big 5 have ebooks with OverDrive libraries. If it’s good enough for them…

Lots of individual libraries across Canada and the USA saw over one million downloads in 2014, with some clearing two million.

Los Angeles Public Library saw its OverDrive circulation expand by 56 percent. The New York Public Library and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County each saw 42 percent growth to top the one million loan mark. And the Seattle Public Library, Hennepin County Library (MN), Cleveland Public Library, Calgary Public Library (AB), and Cuyahoga County Public Library (OH) each increased OverDrive checkouts between 25 and 35 percent to exceed one million loans.

The shift from PC-based downloads to mobile devices has been critical in this increase, and we can expect these numbers to be much bigger by the end of 2015.

We haven’t seen figures for other library distributors yet but safe to presume it’s similar story for them, albeit on a smaller scale. Again, library-distributors are not always easy-access, but it can be done. More on the various options soon.

Those not yet in the library distribution arena really need to think again. Or miss out. Because digital libraries are still in their infancy. This is just the tip of the ice-berg,

Digital libraries are an easy way to reach readers and boost your income even as the mainstream retail sector becomes harder and harder to navigate.

Yes, there is a glut out there. A glut of badly written, badly formatted and badly written ebooks that are cluttering the cyber-shelves and making discovery more difficult for serious authors trying to reach readers. And a glut of free ebooks and ten and twenty volume box sets sold for 0.99. If we swamp our readers with free and ultra-cheap titles by the million it’s hardly surprising readers are sitting back and waiting for the next freebie from indies rather than pay full price.

But as subscription service reports and library reports show clearly, ebook reading is on the up and up. And print is firmly refusing to keel over despite the repeated assurances of the indie fundamentalists over the last five years that trad pub was in terminal decline.

If some of our sales are tanking right now, maybe it’s because some of us aren’t focused enough on being where the readers are, and aren’t focussed enough on making our works available in formats the readers want it in.

Make no mistake. We are witness to, and participants in, a New Renaissance quite unparalleled in human history. We have global reach and global opportunity the like of which authors even a decade ago could only dream of.

Trad pub understands this, no matter how many times the Indie Old Guard trot out the heads in sand / deckchairs on the Titanic spiel.

Yet many of us indies are still partying like its 2009. Many of us are so over-awed by being able to publish at all that we are losing sight of the fact that there is more than one way to publish, and more than one or two retailers to publish with.

Digital libraries are just one option to diversify in 2015.

How diversified will you be by the end of this year? Or will you still be partying like its 2009 in 2016?

 

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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.

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OverDrive And WH Smith Updates

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OverDrive

While not all of the promised 200,000+ Smashwords titles are showing in the public OverDrive catalogue, some 157,000 are, so if you are with Smashwords and opted in to the OverDrive distribution channel there’s a good chance some or all of your titles will be available.

OverDrive is the world’s biggest library supplier for digital content, not just in the US but across Europe and the UK, in Australia and New Zealand, and in places as improbable as China.

Check the site (LINK) to see if your titles are showing. And if they are, copy the links to your websites, promo packages, etc, and make sure people know! Digital libraries are big business. OverDrive alone saw over one hundred million digital downloads in 2013.

NB The Smashwords-OverDrive deal only covers OverDrive libraries, not OverDrive’s retail outlets.

W H Smith

WH Smith is the Kobo partner outlet that famously kicked out all indies last year following a scandal in the UK over some unsavoury titles appearing in the ebook store.

WH Smith is the second biggest b&m book store and the biggest newsagent and stationer in the UK. Kobo devices and the Kobo ebook store are prominently displayed in the bigger WH Smith stores, so losing the Kobo-WH Smith outlet was a blow to indies selling in Britain.

A year on and indies are back, but still filtering through. We can say with confidence more and more titles are appearing.

We still cannot say with confidence that all indie aggregators are getting titles in.

So far – and this may be pure coincidence based on our limited survey pool – we are not seeing any titles in WH Smith uploaded via Draft2Digital. Titles via Smashwords, Ebook Partnership and Kobo Writing Life are there.

Currently about 30,000 Smashwords titles are back in WH Smith. No idea how many Smashwords titles are opted in to Kobo, but guessing a lot more than that, so probably lots more to filter through.

Are D2D titles being allowed back in too? We can’t imagine why not, but as yet we have no evidence that they are. Hopefully someone out there can allay our fears and report their D2D titles are in WH Smith.

You can visit the W H Smith ebook site from outside the UK (unlike the Kobo UK site) to check if you are there. (LINK)

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