Tag Archives: China ebooks

Something for the Weekend. An overview of the global ebook scene.

There’s a rumour circulating in India that Amazon will be launching the Kindle Unlimited subscription service for just 199 rupees per month.

The report in ETRetail (LINK) does stress this is just a rumour, but if it turns out to be true it could be a game-changer.

The minimum price indies can set on Kindle India through KDP is 49 rupees, so a subscriber would have to read just five minimum-price titles a month to be up on the deal. For more expensive titles it would be even more rewarding for the reader.

And possibly lucrative for the author. The India ebook market may be nascent but it’s not dormant. In time it will be the second largest ebook market in the world.

That’s a few years off yet, but India is already set to exceed the USA as the second largest smartphone market. And every smartphone out there could have our ebooks on.

Any author looking to the long-term will be looking carefully at the India market, regardless of what happens with KU.

See this post on the “globile” future to understand why. (LINK).

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I’ve posted on the phenomenon of adult colouring books a few times.

Mainly to stress that as indies we are already, to some extent, “outside the box”, and we should always be willing to take a few strides further and explore the incredible possibilities digital presents us.

With adult colouring books it’s been small press print outfits that have led the way.

This week it’s emerged that the “Secret Garden” adult colouring book has sold three million copies in the past three months… in China. It also sold a million in Brazil and a half million in South Korea. (LINK)

Both Brazil and China wildly outsold the US, and Korea outsold the UK.

Meanwhile in the US a self-published children’s book produced POD via CreateSpace and Ingram has sold over 20,000 copies in the US, topping the print charts.

In the latter case it was an indie author. In the former it could easily have been.

In this brave new world of the global New Renaissance the boxes we choose to live are largely of our own making.

We have unprecedented reach, unprecedented opportunities, and unprecedented possibilities to experiment.

Don’t waste them.

~~~

The issue of the self-publishers’ ghetto at OverDrive came up again this week. The post has since been updated to say there was “initially” a ghetto. (LINK)

Comments on that post confirm that, while there is a sub-section within the OverDrive facility for librarians that just holds Smashwords titles, indie titles from Smashwords ARE available in the OverDrive public catalogue.

In fact there are 187,000 Smashwords titles showing in OverDrive right now.

So let’s be clear. There is no ghetto.

I’ve been getting titles into OverDrive libraries for almost five years with no problems, and lately have been using Smashwords to add some new titles to the OverDrive catalogue.

For those who assert I’m “anti-Smashwords” for complaining about what doesn’t work well at Smashwords, let me be clear.

IF… and that’s still a big if, sadly – but if you can get your titles into the Smashwords premium catalogue, and of course if you’ve opted into library distribution, your titles will appear in the OverDrive library catalogues worldwide in a matter of days.

The exceptions are erotica titles, which OverDrive does not accept from Smashwords, but for everything else Smashwords is a cheap (pay as you sell), quick and (relatively) easy way to get your self-published titles into the OverDrive global libraries.

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Sadly the same cannot be said for Flipkart. Smashwords has just announced they have cancelled the deal with Flipkart to get indie titles into India’s largest retailer.  (LINK)

Mark Coker makes some interesting, if controversial, arguments about how Amazon’s KDP Select is in part responsible for this decision. Coker argues indies wanting to jump in and out of Select were finding their titles not being removed from Flipkart in timely fashion, leaving indies in breach of Amazon’s exclusivity demand for participation in KU.

But here’s the thing: by cancelling the Flipkart deal, it is Smashwords that is penalizing the many authors that do not jump in and out of retailers chasing every new shiny dangled in front of them and are trying to build a global presence.

Surely it is not beyond Mark Coker’s ability to simply put a clear message on the site in relation to stores like Flipkart that indies cannot expect instant responsiveness from this particular retailer, leaving indies the option to list on Flipkart through Smashwords.

The very real danger for Mark Coker is that ,by removing options like Flipkart, he risks sending indies to rival aggregators like Xin-Xii who do offer Flipkart, along with Google Play and the Tolino Alliance stores that aren’t available through Smashwords. (LINK)

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The latest of Big Pub to sign an English-language deal in China is PanMacmillan UK, who have announced a deal with Trajectory at the Beijing Book Fair this week. (LINK)

Trajectory are leading the way in taking English-language titles to the new globile (global mobile) markets, and fully understand we who write and publish are sitting on a global goldmine.

Trajectory has no facility for (or interest in) indie authors, but it may at some stage come to an agreement with one of the distributors we can access. That could be a long wait. Meantime trad pub is raking in the cash from English-language readers in China and elsewhere.

I’ll be forwarding this latest report to Fiberead (LINK) in the hope of nudging them in the direction of making our indie English-language titles available in China, but as yet their focus is (understandably) on the translations market.

But, in mind the current mess at Smashwords with Flipkart, Fiberead, or whoever steps forward to make China accessible to indie E-L titles, will have to include a clear contractual commitment to keep titles in for a sensible length of time, and that hopping in and out every five minutes will not be an option.

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Globile up 55% year on year!

A new report from Ericsson estimates there are three billion mobile broadband users across the globe right now, (LINK) and the vast majority therefore have potential access to our ebooks.

Globile (global mobile) is still in its infancy in much of the world, but the growth areas are worth looking at. The US, unsurprisingly, but also India, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nigeria.

I’m adding Myanmar (Burma, for those who last looked at an atlas when they were at school) to my watch-list in view of the latest data, which confirms the trend I’ve been watching this past year for Myanmar.  There’s been a massive investment in broadband recently and its beginning to pay off big time.

It’s a pattern we’ll see repeated very soon in countries like Pakistan and Nepal, and across the globe.

I won’t bore you with details of the countless 4G licences I’m monitoring being auctioned right now globally, but my globile map is lighting up in places even I, the eternal digital optimist, thought were unlikely before the end of this decade.

As Google’s Loon balloon project and Facebook’s Aquila drone project go live over the next few years (the former already underway in Sri Lanka) we’re going to witness an explosion in globile traffic and global engagement that will be truly, truly remarkable.

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In mind the previous item ponder this, for of such things as this is our future as global authors made.

The Pacific Caribbean Cable System (PCCS) has just started commercial operations. It links the USA, via Florida, with the Caribbean nations, Central America and northern South America as far as Ecuador, meaning millions more people across the Caribbean and Latin America have access to 4G-standard internet service. (LINK)

This in turn will accelerate the take-up of smartphones across the region, which in turn will build awareness of the benefits of the internet and so accelerate smartphone adoption even more.

Just one of the many reasons I am so excited by the Latin American market right now.

Here’s another.

The Russia-based subscription service Bookmate now has a carrier-billing deal with Tigo Mobile in Guatemala and Paraguay. (LINK)

Tigo Mobile is one of the big telcos in Latin America, and safe to assume this will be the first of many carrier-billing arrangements, not just with Bookmate but almost certainly soon with Google Play.

For those unfamiliar, carrier billing is where you pay for online purchases like ebooks from your mobile phone credit.

For Third World countries like these it is hard to exaggerate the significance of this. Most people across the world do not have bank accounts, let alone credit cards. But trying buying from Amazon or Apple without a card… Try subscribing to Scribd without a card…

Carrier billing enables the cash-paying reader to pay for ebooks online instead of relying on free-reading sites like Wattpad.

Study after study shows that, around the globe, the biggest hindrances to e-reading on smartphones are

a) that the retailers aren’t accessible and

b) where, as with Kobo, they are, local people simply have no method by which to pay.

Indian app-based stores like Newshunt and Rockstand shift millions of ebooks every year thanks to carrier billing. People who have no way whatsoever of paying Amazon India, for example, can simply buy a mobile credit scratchcard with cash, top up their mobile, and buy and download an ebook from Newshunt or Rockstand. No wonder these two stores are the fastest growing ebook stores in India.

In Latin America carrier billing plays a similarly crucial role in allowing people to pay for goods online. But it requires the retailer to come to an arrangement with the telco.

This service is already offered by some “domestic” Latin American retailers, but this move by Bookmate is the first by an outsider. I understand Google Play is also in talks with Tigo and other telcos to offer carrier billing.

Bookmate is a global subscription service that cleverly focuses on markets Amazon neglects, and it’s doing rather well. As well as being one of the biggest Russian services (along with LitRes – but watch out for a possible Kindle Russia store in the future – there are indications Bezos is trying to get a foothold there) Bookmate is a global operator, and big in key countries like Turkey (Amazon blocks downloads to Turkey).

The move with Paraguay and Guatemala is believed to be the first of a wider campaign by Bookmate to embrace Latin America. Just one more sign that Latin America is now firmly on the radar of the global retailers.

I get my titles into Bookmate through the British aggregator Ebook Partnership, but it’s a pay-up-front service and not one I could recommend just now, as the global landscape is changing so fast, and other routes are opening up.

Bookmate recently launched its own self-pub portal. I haven’t had the chance to investigate this yet, but it’s on my To Do list.

Bookmate is not going to make anyone rich with its payouts, but as a vehicle for global discovery and laying the foundations for the future, Bookmate should definitely be a consideration for any author going global.

One final word on Bookmate – they’ve just launched this past week in Indonesia. I can’t tell you how exciting that is. I’ll be doing an in depth post on the Indonesia scene shortly to explain why.

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Here in West Africa the ACE cable linking Europe and the west coast of Africa finally went live in The Gambia just over two years ago.  While meaningful reach is still limited to the coast because the relay infrastructure is not in place yet across the country, the transformation has already been remarkable, with pretty much everyone having a smartphone of some sort in their hands.

Bear in mind this is one of the poorest countries on the planet.

People who two years ago did not know the internet even existed, and still have no access to running water or electricity, now watch youtube videos, use skype and Facebook, and would be lost without their (probably counterfeit, they are so cheap) smartphones.

Do they e-read? Most definitely, yes. But mainly on free sites like Wattpad because, quite simply, there is no mechanism for them to make payments even if the big retailers actually let them download.

But that will come, and with it will come a surge in global e-reading on an unprecedented scale as the global New Renaissance gets into second gear.

It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen everywhere at the same time, but it will happen. It is happening.

And those authors who have positioned themselves well now, and are using sites like Wattpad to establish a global presence where they have no commercial reach, will reap the benefits.

The PCCS cable mentioned above is just one of myriad similar projects happening right now around the globe that, along with the Google Loon project and Facebook’s Aquila drone project, is creating an internet-connected world that within ten years will net-enfranchise well over 95% of the world’s population.

Already our potential audience is well over two billion people. That’s how many people have a smartphone, tablet or similar e-reading device in their hands right now.

More than two billion people.

Yet the majority of indie authors are so busy fighting each other to grab a share of the fraction of the couple-hundred million US market that they don’t even know the wider world exists.

Their loss. And less competition for the rest of us.

~~~

Google’s fleet of self-driving cars now numbers twenty, averaging 10,000 miles a week. (LINK)

Over the past six years there have been eleven minor accidents and all have been the result of human-driver error in other vehicles – even a super-duper computerised self-driven car that can simultaneously see every other vehicle and pedestrian on the road can’t stop some idiot driving into the back of you because they were on their phone.

One day these vehicles will be everywhere, and will save countless lives.

Driverless cars, books with no paper, watching films on a phone, 3-D printers… My childhood science-fiction is today’s reality.

5G is almost with us, and at the current rate of accelerated innovation it’s impossible to guess what even 6G, let alone 10G, will bring, but I plan on living forever so I can find out. 🙂

That way I might even get time to finish a few more books.

~~~

Not everyone is enamoured by the idea of serialization of works, but I’m having great fun with it, and I’m not alone.

This report from the Bookseller is well worth reading to see how trad pub is engaging with serialization and seeing great results. (LINK)

Of course in the case of Transworld and Headline all the serialized parts were professionally edited to meet the requirements of serialization and put out well-formatted on all retail platforms, and then strung together professionally in a print version also made widely available.

Sadly indies going the serialization route often seem more focused on short-term gains (as with the old KU system), but serialization has much more to offer the savvy author.

One of the problems with serialization, of course, is that a serialized novel (or indeed non-fiction works, which is where my serialization focus is) is not a stand-alone book simply chopped into equal pieces.

A thoughtfully serialized work needs to a lot of careful consideration to balance the parts. So while it may allow you to get to market sooner and start building an audience for the project, it may well prove to be not just as much, but more work than slogging away at a single full-length project.

I’m certainly finding that with my serialization of the West Africa travelogues. In theory part two and three could have been live by now, but as I work through parts 4-5 I keep finding cause to go back and make adjustments to parts 2 and 3. While that’s easy enough with digital, it’s not a sensible option once the early parts are live, because early readers will not know of the re-writes and be lost if they impact on later parts.

So if you do go down this route take a leaf from Transworld’s and Headline’s book and make sure you have several parts firmly in place before you launch.

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The Madrid-based digital-library supplier Odilo (LINK) is ramping up its game, and shifting to more English-language titles alongside its Spanish-language range.

No easy way into Odilo right now, but definitely one to keep an eye on, both as possible outlet in the future and as a barometer of the way things are shaping up.

Globally digital libraries are still pretty embryonic, but they present a fantastic opportunity for discovery and reaching new audiences.

Odilo is gearing up to challenge the long-established players like OverDrive, and its focus is worth watching.

While Spain is of course its core market, Odile is taking big strides in the US, and is in Peru, Colombia and Mexico right now, and will soon be in Chile. It’s also, intriguingly, in Australia.

And it’s handling titles in Italian, Russian and Chinese as well as Spanish and English, suggesting global ambitions and, for authors, global opportunities ahead.

Odilo isn’t geared to indie authors yet, but I’m making tentative enquiries about third-party routes in.

Even if we can’t get into Odilo this year or next, we should all be looking at operators like this, because they show clearly the way the global markets are developing. Latin America, for instance, is getting more exciting by the day.

If we’re not taking the global markets seriously and getting into translations and extensive distribution right now we’ll only have ourselves  to blame in years to come when other authors are seeing global success while we’re still struggling to get noticed in the ever more overcrowded market at home.

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

The View From The Beach – Mark Williams At Large

Gunjur-Coastline-Gambia

China’s Golden Age For Writers.

The China Gold Rush For Western Indies.

China Daily today confirms what we’ve mentioned here before – that some Chinese indie authors are picking up the USD equivalent of $1.6m per year from e-writing. (LINK)

That’s the top end, of course, but many more are doing very nicely at slightly more moderate levels, and handful of western indies are enjoying the rewards too.

At the moment the easiest way into the China market is the translation and aggregation service Fiberead (LINK), but that will change soon enough as other operators realise the potential here to leverage western literature in the barely started but already humungous Chinese digital-reading market.

Fiberead is largely retailer-focused, and while I’ve of course no complaints about what Fiberead has achieved for me (first western indie to hit #1 on Kindle China for those unfamiliar), and I’m working closely with Fiberead on new projects, there is much more on my horizon.

My sights are set on the many micro-payment sites which is where the readers are, and where savvy Chinese authors are making the serious money. Think Wattpad but getting paid. 🙂

No easy access to these sorts of sites from outside the country, which is why I am cultivating contacts within China to help me go to the next level in reaching Chinese readers.

There are incredible opportunities in the global markets right now for those of us willing to go the extra mile, stake our claim and do some prospecting.

China is by far the largest, but by no means the only goldmine out there for savvy indies willing to take the international markets seriously.

No, there are no just-add-water instant-gratification solutions, but if you are ambitious, willing to work hard, and not averse to the occasional risk, the whole world is your potential audience as the global New Renaissance gets out of first gear.

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Make Sure Vietnam Is On Your Career-Indie Radar.

DiversifyIn2015

If you write over-sentimental mawkish romance with some sex thrown in you might want to chuck your book into Google Translate, hit the Vietnamese button, slap a cover on, and sell it in Vietnam, where apparently such works can pick up ten million readers. (LINK)

Okay, that’s probably not the best career plan ever (and do not EVER use Google Translate for your books!), but check out the afore-linked post from Publishing Perspectives for a reminder that there are key markets out there like Vietnam that are totally off the radar of most indies.

We’ve covered Vietnam a few times, albeit with little enthusiasm because gaining access it not easy. but Vietnam is on our second-to-top-priority list – one of the key emerging markets to be keeping an eye on. Vietnam has its own self-publishing portals, but only in Vietnamese (they are soooo inconsiderate!) and self-pub is doing well there. But as yet no easy way for westerners to get in on the act. Amazon blocks downloads, Apple isn’t there, Nook isn’t there, Kobo is only there through the international store in USD.

But Google Play is there and so is e-Sentral, so there is some access. While no iBooks store yet, Vietnam is one of Apple’s biggest growth areas. As and when Apple get their global iBooks stores back on track it could get very interesting.

Meanwhile, peruse the Publishing Perspectives article and get an idea of the immense interest in reading among the younger generations in Vietnam, many of whom will also be reading in English, and most of whom will soon become cash-spending adults who will still be wanting to read.

Vietnam, population 90 million, is a highly literate society and has primary school enrollment running at 90%. Vietnam is embracing digital across the field, and while ebooks make up a small part of the publishing industry right now, that is changing.

As best we can make out, Biit Books, one of the early runners, is no longer operational, but Alezaa still is going strong, and so is Sachweb.

Check out Sachweb here – https://sachweb.com/  – We love to tune in just for the music the store plays, but still can’t make head nor tail of the store itself. 🙂

Other Vietnamese players still operating today are Ybook, Komo and Sachbaovn.

Aside from Google Play and eSentral the key international player in Vietnam is Thailand’s Ookbee, which is also partnered with Indonesia’s Scoop. No easy way into Ookbee yet, but there are signs things may change this year. We’ll keep you posted.

Until then, make sure Vietnam is at least on your radar, and be sure to have your books in Google Play and e-Sentral. You can go direct to both. If you prefer an aggregator, the pay-as-you-sell aggregators Narcissus and Xin-Xii will get you in to Google Play, and the pay-up-front Ebook Partnership will get you into both.

And if by chance you know someone who can translate your works to Vietnamese don’t pass by the opportunity.

South East and East Asia are the most exciting regions for digital reading right now. China, obviously, but also Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and South Korea should be firmly on any career-indie’s radar.

Wattpad has a very strong user-base in Vietnam, for those who use Wattpad to gain international exposure.

One final thought for now. Some of you will have books set in Vietnam or about Vietnamese characters. While finding a Vietnamese translator and getting into Vietnam stores may be a challenge there are ways to push your English-language titles.

Checkout the arts and entertainment page on  VietnamNet – (LINK)

Most countries have similar sites aimed at being a window on the nation for English-speakers and also aimed at ex-pats. These sites can be great ways to do some targeted promo, for your E-L titles with that regional interest. Often these sites struggle for content, so a savvy indie handing them some free content on a plate… By content we mean a short and thoughtful piece about your book, with discreet links, not a BUY ME! screamer.

And do offer your book free for them to review. That could pay off big time with a site recommendation that might be picked up by other media in that country.

A full post on E-L niche promotion soon. Here just to state the obvious. If you get in touch with the editorial teams on these sites you are likely to find a warm reception IF your books a) have regional interest and b) are available in both digital and print.

Note that last word. In a country like Vietnam where ebook take-up is less than 2%, print is where the action is. Make sure you include your print book’s ISBN, because with that a buyer can easily find where your print book can be bought.

And bear this in mind: Sending out Kindle or iBooks or Nook links to a country like Vietnam when these stores are not available in Vietnam is not going to find you new readers. Nor will it impress the editorial team who might otherwise love to run your promo piece.

Again, this is where ISBNs come into their own. The “I” in ISBN stands for international, and it means just that. Give out your ISBN and the reader can search for that and find a print or digital vendor they can use. Give out a link to a particular store, or only a digital link,  and if that store isn’t accessible or the reader does not like ebooks said reader will assume your book is not accessible to them.

Visitors to country-window sites like these are likely to be English-literate and with the means to pay using mainstream stores like Google Play, Kobo, etc, or to pay for international shipping to have the POD book delivered.

As ever, there are so many opportunities out there for those indies willing to step outside their comfort zones.

Have you stepped outside your comfort zone lately?

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http://publishingperspectives.com/2015/05/sexed-up-chinese-pulp-fiction-invading-vietnam/

China Ebook Market Heats Up.

Go Global In 2014

The China ebook market could be about to get a lot more exciting, with news that Tencent is buying into – and possibly buying out – Shandra Cloudary. (LINK)

Shandra Cloudary are one of the biggest ebook retailers in China – check out their Qidian store (LINK) – and while details are not yet clear it seems Tencent’s own ebook supply is going into the Qidian store.

We’re not sure if this will make Qidian bigger than the current title-holder JD, but it will certainly be in the running, and way bigger than Kindle China.

As we’ve said many times, China, India and Indonesia are the most exciting prospects on the planet right now, and thanks to the Chinese publisher Fiberead indies can now get their works translated into Chinese and marketed in China with no up-front costs. (LINK) A full post on Fiberead in the new year.

Some have said the nascent markets are all pie in the sky until there’s firm evidence these foreign ebook stores can deliver for western authors.

Well, last month that was firmly laid that one to rest when British indie authors hit number one on Kindle China, selling about 2,000 ebooks a day at peak, of a translated British crime thriller set in the UK with absolutely no Chinese or oriental themes. (LINK) They’ve also been selling well on JD, Qidian and other Chinese ebook retailers, most much bigger than Kindle China.

A clear signal that the Chinese are keen to read western books if only we would make them available.

Of course trad pub already knows that. The Chinese ebook charts are littered with translated western works. And not far behind them are trad-pub English-language titles. In fact this past summer HarperCollins signed a big deal with China’s biggest ebook retailer, JD, to get its English-language backlist in front of readers in China. (LINK)

Of course you wouldn’t expect a post from us on China to miss out on mentioning Alibaba.

Alibaba doesn’t do ebooks yet, but we’ve said often, that’s just a matter of time. With Tencent – one of Alibaba’s biggest rivals – getting its claws into Shandra Cloudary, the idea that Jack Ma will stay aloof from ebooks much longer is unthinkable.

As speculated elsewhere, Alibaba may well be in line to buy Nook and Blinkbox next year, and we should all be hoping that happens.

But meantime, while we’re waiting for China to come to us, why not take your ebooks to China?

Ebook Bargains UK

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China In Your Hands. The Global English-Language Book Market

Go Global In 2014Many of you are unconvinced by our enthusiasm for the overseas markets, arguing that, without translations to local languages, it simply isn’t worth the effort to target foreign lands, no matter how big they might be.

Yes, China has fifty trillion, gazillion, pfazillion people all eagerly buying ebooks, but who cares? The lazy b******s can’t be bothered to speak English, so in the words of Marie Antoinette’s second cousin in Cathay, let them eat prawn crackers.

But as we’ve said on many occasions, while some indies take the moral low ground and dismiss Johnny Foreigner as a waste of time, trad pub is raking in the cash from English-language titles overseas.

In July last year the Association of American Publishers reported how English-language titles – both print and digital – were flourishing. 

For print the growth areas are instructive. These by ranking order:

“UK, Germany, Australia, South Korea, the Philippines and Singapore. The countries with the greatest year-to-year increases in print revenue were the Philippines, the UK, France, Colombia and the United Arab Emirates.”

For ebooks:

“The revenue-generating territories were led by Europe, followed by the UK and then closely by the territory including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India. The top countries contributing to eBook sales were the UK, Australia, Germany, France, Norway and Switzerland. Germany showed the greatest year-on-year revenue gains while New Zealand, Spain, Italy, South Africa and Brazil also contributed significant eBook revenue gains.”

Remember, this is English-language titles.

As the APP report says,

Asia is a thriving market for US publishers for several reasons. English-language literacy, already important in a number of Asian countries, is rapidly growing among populations in more countries including China, Malaysia and Indonesia. Also, the Asian market places strong emphasis on education and English Language Teaching (ELT), and books from US Children’s/Young Adult publishers are considered critical to long term education investments.”

Most indies are sharing in almost none of this growth.

Why? Basically, myopic thinking and too heavy a reliance on handful of retail outlets.

As per bold above, Asia is a big growth area for English-language titles.

China may not be the easiest place to sell our ebooks, and if you are exclusive with Amazon you won’t be seeing much action in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore or the Philippines, but Kobo will get you into the biggest ebook store in the Philippines, and both e-Sentral and Google Play will get you in front of readers in all four countries.

China? Not yet.

But HarperCollins is about to rake in a whole load more cash following a new agreement with one of China’s stop retailers, JD – second only to Alibaba in Chinese e-commerce.

Significantly, HarperCollins has just signed a deal with JD solely dedicated to selling HarperCollins’s ENGLISH-LANGUAGE ebooks in the Chinese market.

HarperCollins are actually quite late to the party. OverDrive signed a deal to get ebooks into China back in August 2013. Sorry, if you’re in OverDrive through Smashwords you won’t be there.

That said, several western aggregators have been looking at gaining access to the lucrative China market, and at least one has an announcement pending, but the details are still under wraps.

Here just to say, when the opportunity comes, grab it!

Ironically it is Amazon, the store that blocks downloads to most of Asia (Japan aside) that has the best foothold in China right now. But we indies aren’t invited to the party. Yes, Amazon sells ebooks in China, but you won’t find Kindle CN anywhere in your KDP dashboard.

Amazon has been in China since 2004, when it brought Joyo for $75 million, but has never got off the ground properly. No official stats, of course, but pundits generally agree China is one of the biggest drains on the Zon.

One reason might be their refusal to glocalize.

Take a look at the China site. The content and prices are in Mandarin, true, but check out the framework of the site and it’s exactly the same as the US site and every other site (check out Nook UK http://www.nook.com/gb for a fine example of how not to treat foreigners as an afterthought), and Amazon haven’t even been bothered to translate the most basic navigation tools, like the sign-in button.

Chinese users with no familiarity with the Latin alphabet might be able to guess where to sign in, but what will they make of “Today’s Deals”, “Gift cards” or “Sell”?

Amazon have thoughtfully translated the information on these pages, so if you click through it will all make sense. But if you don’t speak English you won’t know where to click through in the first place. The bottom bars of the home page are almost completely in English, even though linking to important information like payment methods . Go figure.

But be in no doubt there’s a demand for English-language books in China.

A look at the Kindle CN bestsellers list is instructive. http://www.amazon.cn/gp/bestsellers/digital-text/116169071/ref=sv_kinc_4

At #12 in the top 100 free on Kindle China is a public domain HG Wells title, in English, and at #18 a Sherlock Holmes anthology, again in English. And several more public domain classics, in English, in the Top 100 Free chart.

No English-language titles in the Top 100 paid chart, but that may be more down to availability than lack of interest. Clearly HarperCollins think there is plenty of demand for English-language originals in China, and a look at the imported print and Kindle books section throws up all the usual big names, as well as some surprising ones.

A common reaction to any discussion about the Chinese book market is that there is so much state censorship that nothing western will be allowed through.

Well, each country has laws and those laws will be enforced. There’s a lot of material on Smashwords, for example, that would be illegal in the UK and would have us Brits arrested if we were caught downloading it.

But let’s not assume China is still some sort of no-go area for western ideas. Those days are long gone. It’s 2014, not 1984.

Speaking of which…

George Orwell’s anti-totalitarian classic 1984 is readily available. In fact the Kindle addition is just 18 yuan and it has over 350 five star reviews. Assuming the ratio of reviews to sales is similar to the US then that suggests some serious sales numbers. Orwell’s anti-Stalinist Animal Farm has almost 500 five star reviews, and sells for less than 6 yuan.

The Chinese ebook market is already massive. At least second to the US. Possibly bigger. There are many dollar-equivalent millionaire indies in China right now, and just a matter of time before the first western indies breakout there and win the biggest lottery on the planet.

Don’t fall for the media propaganda that China is living in some sort of time-warp and is way behind the west. China is already ahead in many ways, and is at least keeping up in others.

Take social media as an example. Yes, they use Facebook and twitter in China, but they also have their home-grown versions. And how!

Sina Weibo, a Chinese version of twitter, has 148 million active monthly users. That’s twice the population of the UK.

WeChat in China has 350 million active users each month. That’s more than the entire population of the USA!

Sounds impressive until you consider that Tencent has 800 million active monthly users. At one point in April this year Tencent had an incredible 200 million users online at the same time!

A reminder that we at Ebook Bargains UK regard S.E. Asia as THE most exciting region on the planet right now, ranking China, along with India, Indonesia and the Philippines, as key Asian markets we should all be paying close attention to.

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

These markets won’t pay tomorrow’s lunch. But they will be a great addition to your pension plan.