Monthly Archives: January 2014

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.

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

GoGlobalIn2014_500

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

austrianalps1

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

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

~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still not bothered? You should be.

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

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

Indies need to understand that the Amazon honeymoon is over.

~

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

No more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most of the world’s population do.

But let’s get back to Austria.

~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seriously.

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

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

~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe all seven.

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

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

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

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

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

Ebook Bargains UK

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Far more than just the UK.

Global Ebook News Round-Up (You might want to be sitting down for some of this!)

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OverDrive Shifts Up A Gear.

Coffee and Ebooks? It must be Brazil.

Trad Pub Trail Blazing Again.

Going To the Library With Your Kindle? Pick Up A Penguin.

~ ~ ~

OverDrive Shifts Up A Gear

We reported last week that six libraries had seen downloads of more than one million ebooks. This week further stats emerged.

During the first ten years of digital downloads being available through libraries, up to 2012, a total of 100,000,000 (yes, one hundred million!) ebooks and audiobooks, etc were downloaded through the distributor OverDrive.

In 2013 OverDrive library downloads in one year exceeded the total of the previous ten years. Another one hundred million plus items were downloaded from libraries just in 2013, just through OverDrive.

How many were your ebooks?

Most likely none, because most indies don’t even know OverDrive exists, let alone that they could be in the OverDrive catalogue and be reaching millions of new readers.

And among those that have heard of OverDrive most dismiss it as a sideshow.

OverDrive

Time to think again. This is just library and school downloads through one distributor, OverDrive. There are plenty of others. As weve said many times, the wholesalers are THE place to be as we move to the next stage of the digital revolution.

Collectively the wholesaler catalogues combined global sales will eclipse the current big players in the not too distant future. As these figures from libraries clearly demonstrate, the wholesaler catalogues are no sideshow.

When you consider that by far the majority of libraries at this stage are only just beginning to take ebooks seriously then the real potential for distributors like OverDrive becomes clear.

And that’s before we get into actual sales. Because make no mistake, OverDrive is also selling ebooks in telephone numbers.

OverDrive is the supplier for myriad key ebook retailers. One example is Waterstone’s, the UK’s largest book store chain. No, Waterstone’s is not a big player compared to Amazon, but multiply those sales by the sales coming in through countless other OverDrive partner stores and those numbers soon mount up.

OverDrive haven’t issued sales stats for partner stores yet but they have revealed that views across the OverDrive powered partner stores in 2013 totalled 4.3 billion.

It’s important to understand that the scope of the wholesaler catalogues goes way beyond just delivering physical and digital content. OverDrive, Copia, Baker & Taylor, Ingram, Gardner’s and others are multifaceted in more ways than you can imagine, as we’ll be showing with dedicated posts exploring each one soon.

For now, just to stress that if you are not in the wholesaler catalogues you are going to miss out big time as they grow and grow in importance.

Last autumn OverDrive announced a groundbreaking deal to bring digital content to China. Apple is just about to launch big-time there with its hardware, but for westerners OverDrive will probably be the best hope of gaining content access to this humungous market.

Worth noting China is currently the world’s second largest ebook market, and could well take the number one spot this year. Worth adding it got there with no help from Amazon.

A report last week suggested Russia was the third largest ebook market. That’s probably a slight exaggeration right now, but no question the Russian ebook market is growing at a phenomenal rate. And while there will almost certainly be a Kindle Russia store later this year the current ebook growth in Russia again has nothing to do with Amazon.

Likewise those one hundred million downloads in schools and libraries last year through OverDrive has little to do with Amazon.

That’s not to say Amazon is not still the most important place to be for most author (don’t misconstrue anything here as anti-Amazon), but it should be increasingly clear that it’s time to stop partying like its 2009. Amazon is not the only show in town, and the other players are no sideshow.

And unlike Amazon the wholesalers have truly global reach.

And here’s the thing. You can stay in Amazon AND be in the wholesaler catalogues selling across the globe. It’s not either/or. No painful choices required!

There are fantastic opportunities out there for indies to make a mark in the burgeoning global markets right now. The goal is wide open, and the playing field is level. If you’re not planning on Going Global In 2014 it will be that much more difficult in 2015.

Coffee And Ebooks? It Must Be Brazil.

At the Digital Book World Conference in New York this week Jonathan Newell, head of Nielsen, pointed out that Brazil has the sixth largest economy in the world. That Brazilians are embracing the English language. And that books – and ebooks – are big business in Brazil.

And no, Amazon Brazil is not the only ebook retailer in Brazil. Google Play, Apple and Kobo are all there too. Kobo supplies the prestigious Livraria Cultura store. If your titles are with Kobo they should be there.

But amazingly Brazilians didn’t have to wait for the richer nations to bring them out of the stone-age. Ebooks have been around in Brazil for quite a while.

BajalLibros has been meeting ebook needs in Latin America since 2010, including Brazil.

BAJLIB

Amazon has just two stores in the region. Apple only sells there in US dollars. Google Play has five stores there so far, with more on the way, but they are late entrants. BajalLibros has fifteen stores across the continent.

There’s plenty more. Copia is there in one it’s many manifestations. Check out the Submarino Digital Club is far more than just an ebook store. Powered by Copia.

An in-depth look at the exciting opportunities in Brazil soon.

Trad Pub Trail Blazing Again

Still not convinced you should Go Global In 2014? Ponder the following.

Those of you who read the indie blogs will be forgiven for thinking Trad Pub is even further out of the loop than us indies when it comes to ebooks going global. So here’s a quote from Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy.

Speaking at the Digital Book World conference in New York this week she said, “Simon & Schuster experienced its greatest growth in the international marketplace last year, particularly in digital titles in English language countries abroad.”

She added, “(Simon & Schuster’s) international eBook business is growing at a faster rate than US eBook sales… Last year (Simon & Schuster) sold eBooks in 200 different countries.”

Reidy went on, “(Simon & Schuster are) seeing an opportunity in these digital sales and that it is not affecting physical sales.” She said, “There is a great opportunity for foreign book retailers to sell English-language titles in non-English speaking countries.”

Ebook sales in 200 different countries? Show us the indie who can match that and we’ll show you a liar.

Trad pub goes from strength to strength in the global markets, and the single biggest reason they are doing so well is because they are there.

It’s not rocket science. If your titles aren’t available where the readers are then the readers will buy someone else’s books instead.

Carolyn Reidy (Simon & Schuster CEO, above) said they had even had an ebook sale in Antarctica. Which brings us full circle to OverDrive and why Amazon needs to fear them.

Going To the Library With Your Kindle? Pick Up A Penguin.

No, OverDrive don’t distribute to Antarctica. So what’s the connection? Penguins.

Or rather, Penguin ebooks. Because in their latest innovation, OverDrive have gained one over Amazon with an arrangement whereby library users in North America (both USA and Canada) can borrow Penguin ebooks from their local library and have them sent direct to their Kindles.

Previously Kindle users faced an obstacle course to get library books onto their Kindle devices. Given Penguin are now partnered with Random House we can safely assume Random House ebooks will soon be similarly enabled. Safe also to presume other publishers will follow suit.

Penguin_logo

It’s another hole in the crumbling edifice of Amazon Kindle’s walled garden. The Kindle lock-in is no longer a lock-out.

No need to sign up to Prime to get a whole one ebook loan a month from Amazon for your Kindle. Just pop along to your library and take your pick of Penguin’s range of titles.

OverDrive is one of the most innovative digital content providers around today. Along with Ingram, Copia, Gardner’s, Baker & Taylor, etc, the wholesaler catalogues are THE place to be in 2014/15.

Not to replace your Amazon sales. But to build on them. No exclusivity required.

Ebook Bargains UK

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Magzter soon to open up to ebooks?

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The EBUK team are over at the Anne R. Allen with Ruth Harris blog this week, with some facts and figures on the German ebook market that may surprise you, and some facts and figures on the tablet, phablet and smartphone market that may surprise you even more.

ARA Blog

Did you know what India’s biggest selling tablet is? No, it’s not a Samsung or Apple device, and its certainly not the Kindle. It’s a tablet you’ve probably never heard of. The Aakash. But here’s the thing. Millions of Indians have heard of it and have bought it, and some could be reading your ebooks on it.

Chances are you’ve never heard of Magzter, either. And that’s okay. They’ve probably never heard of you.

magzterlogo175

But one way in which market fragmentation is accelerating is in digital content providers who do not sell ebooks jumping on the bandwagon and selling ebooks.

No timetable yet for Magzter, but given they sell digital magazines it’s a logical next step and there’s been a few hints it’s on the cards.

Yes, we know what you’re all thinking. Amazon already sell magazines, so this new start-up may as well give up now. These smaller stores will never amount to anything. Whoever heard of Magzter anyway?

Well, Magzter is no new start-up. It’s been around since June 2011, and currently seventeen million people around the globe subscribe to magazines through Magzter, reading on their tablets, phablets and smartphones. If that number doesn’t at least double in 2014 we shall be very surprised.

And there are interesting possibilities ahead for stores like these to cross-match ebooks and magazine. For example, travel mags coming up alongside non-fiction ebooks about, or fiction ebooks set in, particular locations. Magzter may or may not be the store that does this, but you can be certain it will happen.

Magzter is just one of countless very successful e-reading outlets you’ve probably never heard of but which millions of other people have. Although New York based, Magzter is big in places like India and Singapore. Amazon has finally got a Kindle India store but still blocks digital downloads to Singapore.

rockstand175

In India digi-mag sellers like Rockstand and Newshunt have recently opened up to ebooks. They both already had millions of subscribers each for their magazines and news, and now ebooks are being put in front of their regular customers.

newshunt150vertical

It’s not rocket science to work out that many of these customers will not be buying their ebooks from the big stores like Amazon, Kobo, etc, when they can get them alongside their regular magazines and news instead.

If your ebooks are not in the catalogues of these “smaller” retailers that are proliferating across the globe then you are going to miss out on future sales in a big way.

Indies need to step outside their comfort zone and see the bigger picture emerging as e-reading goes global. The international e-reading market is still in first gear but already there are more people e-reading on more devices and buying from more outlets than you would ever imagine.

And this is just the beginning.

“Small” outlets like Magzter with their paltry seventeen million subscribers are collectively going to eclipse the sales of the big players in the next year or two, and then leave them behind. Way behind.

If we were investors we would be throwing money at trad pub right now, because trad pub are already making a fortune from the global e-reading markets, and will make money beyond their wildest dreams over the coming years as global e-reading gets into second gear and beyond.

And not by spending all day tweeting and FB-ing “Buy My Book!”. Just by having their titles available where the readers are.

Most indies, still partying like its 2009, will be left waving from the shoreline. Those indies who are playing the long game and riding the international wave now, while the goal is wide open, will be reaping big rewards in years to come.

Which will you be?

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

International Ebook News Round-Up

Go Global In 2014

International ebook news to kick off 2014.

Libraries without books.

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

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

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

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

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

OverDrive

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

Wattpad grows and grows!

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

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

Quote:

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

Unquote.

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

Market fragmentation again

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

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

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

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

It WILL happen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hungry for ebooks? They certainly are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Viva Espana ebooks!

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

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

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

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

Apple i-Gifts

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

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

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

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

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

E-Ink Smartphones!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.