Monthly Archives: December 2014

Draft2Digital Territorial Pricing Option Now Live!

DiversifyIn2015

Sorry, Smashwords, but rival aggregator Draft2Digital (D2D) just took another big leap forward today as its territorial pricing options went live in the D2D dashboard.

Instead of just setting a US dollar price for your ebooks loaded through D2D you can now price for each country/territory. For Europe, no need to worry about adjusting for VAT. D2D does that for you and include VAT in the list price you set. But do remember that the net price your “royalty” is based on will be the VAT-exclusive price, not the list price the reader pays.

You can act now and update your pricing on existing books in D2D simply by opening a product listing page at “publishing”. Below the US price box you’ll find a button to select territorial prices.

And (we’ll get accused of Amazon-bashing for this but facts are facts) it leaves Amazon’s KDP standing.

You can set prices in euros and pounds sterling, of course, and Indian rupees and Brazilian reals, and Mexican pesos and Australian and Canadian dollars, and Japanese yen, just like on Amazon.

But you can also set prices in New Zealand dollars and Hong Kong dollars.

And in Danish and Norwegian krone, and Swedish krona.

And even in Swiss francs.

It isn’t stated, but our guess is these territorial prices will feed through to Apple and Kobo (and Nook UK), and possibly the Page Foundry sites like Inktera and Versent. The Scribd feed from D2D is only for the subscription service.

Yes, it’s more effort for you, poor souls, but it won’t take long and only needs doing once. And so worth doing.

Set your titles cheap for places like Hong Hong, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, etc, where Amazon has no store so can’t play the pernicious MFN card. Take full advantage to find new readers in new places. Run special promos in Sweden and Switzerland. Offer a special deal to Danish readers. Let buyers in New Zealand pay in their own currency at a great price.

What a great way for D2D to end the year,

Needless to say we’re happier than a lamb with two tails. Guess what we’ll be doing this afternoon. 

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

As The KU Exodus Grows, How Much Longer Before Amazon Puts All KDP Titles In Kindle Unlimited?

DiversifyIn2015

In a telling comment over at The Passive Voice this week it was noted that

“On Christmas Day Amazon was offering a huge sale on ebooks, with a big splashy banner on its front page telling customers about $2.99 ebooks. Every single one of them was a Hachette title.”

Compare that to the situation a few months back when Hachette was evil incarnate and indie authors were being begged by Amazon to side against Hachette in a dispute we were not involved in. Many indie authors did as Amazon asked, happy to have a go at the Big 5, never stopping to ask who, when the time came, would fight our cause for us when we indies were at odds with Amazon.

And so it comes to pass.

Amazon rewarded our loyalty with Kindle Unlimited, a subscription service that, unlike rival subscription services Scribd and Oyster, punishes indie authors by first demanding exclusivity, second cannibalizing their sales, replaced with borrows, and third paying the authors a pittance decided on Amazon’s whim each month.

Hugh Howey gave us all a pre-Christmas laugh with his ludicrous suggestion Amazon treats us as second class because we are all scammers and pirates who treat Amazon customers as second class. Howey declined to explain why Amazon therefore continues to treat the Big 5 as first class despite them being convicted of conspiring to give Amazon customers higher prices. In fact, as we see with Hachette, it seems the more problems the trad pub causes Amazon, the more favourably they get treated.

Safe to assume Hachette paid Amazon big money for the placement on the homepage on Christmas Day, but also safe to say Hachette got a ton of sales at the expense of indie authors at similar prices.

Anyone still dreaming that Amazon needs us indies to offer cheap fodder for the masses needs to wake up. 2015 just got whole lot harder.

Add to this Bezos is reporting 10m new Prime members this Holidays season. That takes Prime membership to anywhere between 30m and 60m, depending on whose guestimates you prefer. True most of these will have signed up for the free trial to get the Prime benefits over Christmas, and Amazon won’t be telling us how many cancel when the trial is up. But let’s take a mid-way estimate to work with. Let’s assume Amazon now has 45 million Prime members.

And let’s work on one third of them being readers. Say 15 million.

A safe bet few of them are currently subscribed to KU (another $120 a year on top of the Prime subscription). Many of them will be reading full-price ebooks and Amazon will be paying out its standard rate to publishers and indie authors. Many more will be buying print books, for which Amazon will be not only paying out the standard return to publishers (strange isn’t it, how we don’t call the money Amazon pays the Big 5 a royalty, but we call the exact same payment to indies a royalty) but also paying all warehousing, packaging and shipping charges, as Prime offers free shipping.

Prime members already get unlimited free streaming of music and video. They do so because it’s a great attraction to justify that Prime subscription (once in Prime, customers are far less likely to shop elsewhere, and several reports indicate they spend more). What better way to make Prime even more attractive than to offer unlimited ebooks?

Obviously that isn’t going to happen unless Amazon can get enough cheap content enough to make available, as it clearly has done with music and video. How cheap is cheap? Our guess is, below a dollar a shot as compensation for suppliers.

By no coincidence we’ve seen Amazon force down the pay-out for KU titles month after month after month.

But don’t panic! Check your dashboards on January 15 and there will surely be a small increase in the KU pay-out. Not enough to make any real difference. Just enough for the Amazon cheerleaders to assure us all is well and Amazon has listened to our concerns. “Hey guys! Stop the exodus. Rejoice! We’re getting shafted a little less this month!”

But what happens in the months after that? A return to lower and lower KU payouts, that’s for sure. And when Amazon gets the price down where it wants it, we can likely expect all KDP titles to go into KU and KU to be free to Prime members.

Why? Because those 15 million Prime member readers will then be buying a lot less titles from the Amazon store, both ebook and print, saving Amazon a small fortune on the payout.

Yes, Amazon will have to drop the exclusivity clause for KU participation. But Amazon has already effectively conceded that point as it watches big indie names like Holly Ward and Joe Konrath, along with countless lesser mortals, vote with their feet.

Look at almost any blog nowadays – even the loyalist strongholds like The Passive Voice – and aside from those with short stories and 99c titles the verdict is pretty unanimous. Almost everyone is pulling out of KDP Select as their latest 90 day session ends and they are signing up to other retailers to try salvage their careers.

When we said, back as KU launched in Britain, that KU was nothing more than a stealth royalty cut (LINK), we were pilloried for being anti-Amazon – by the same Amazon loyalists now deserting Select in droves as Amazon twists the knife because of the stealth royalty cuts that is KU.

But we’re not anti-Amazon. far from it. We just believe it’s in the best interests of the indie movement to call foul when we see one, not to look the other way and change the subject, as the Amazon cheerleaders do.

Let’s be clear. We are all in favour of Amazon. Amazon is the single most important ebook retailer in the western ebook market. We are all in favour of ebook subscription services. Or rather, ebook subscription services that treat their content suppliers fairly.

But it was obvious from day one Kindle Unlimited had no intention of doing that. From day one it was clearly it was a two-tier system in which indies were there to make up the numbers and that, a handful of privileged top-sellers aside, we were going to get shafted with payouts.

That’s not being anti-Amazon, anymore than the indies now deserting Select and signing up with Apple and Google Play are anti-Amazon.

Nor is it anti-Amazon to look at the very real possibility that Amazon is planning to put all KDP titles into KU and make KU free for Prime members.

No, before the nay-sayers jump up and scream it, we are not saying the sky is falling. Those of you who want to believe Jeff Bezos lies awake at night thinking how he can help each individual indie author are welcome to your delusions. But Amazon is a business and Amazon will do what is in Amazon’s interests. As and when those interests coincide with ours, that’s great. We’ve all benefited and we are all grateful.

But as Kindle Unlimited shows pretty conclusively, when Amazon’s interests and ours do not coincide, there’s only one winner.

 ~

Back in early October we reported on indies seeing their non-Select titles getting KU borrows, and asked the obvious question: Was Amazon trialling the software to put all KDP titles into KU? (LINK)

It was speculative, of course, and we got slammed as being anti-Amazon for even thinking such a thing, but two months on the landscape has changed beyond all recognition.

The battlefields now are littered with the KU wounded, in fast retreat and heading for the safety of multiple retailers.

At the same time both Oyster and Scribd have seen their title count on the up and up, meaning the gap between KU’s much-vaunted 700,000 titles (now a lot less as indies flee en masse) narrows by the day. When Macmillan puts its backlist in the quality gap will soar still higher and the quantity gap will be negligible.

Amazon needs more titles to keep that gap big enough to draw prospective subscribers away from Scribd and Oyster. Fact.

It can’t win on content quality, because the Big 5 have no intention of coming anywhere near KU, while three of the Big 5 are now either in, or will shortly be in, Scribd and Oyster. Fact.

And it gets worse.

The current exodus of indies from KU is seriously upsetting the financial scales that makes KU viable. The indies who are leaving are exactly the ones Amazon need in to attract readers to pay that subscription fee. The bigger names. The top sellers. Those with high-priced titles and full length books.

Instead we see everywhere – even in the Amazon loyalist strongholds – indies agreeing that short and cheap titles are staying in KU and everything else is coming out. Pronto!

Think that through. As the ninety-day sessions expire, out come the big names and the expensive titles and the longer works, while more and more indies jump on the bandwagon with short titles to grab that ill-conceived payout that means Amazon is dishing out more than list price for what is no different from someone using the Look Inside feature.

A reader can download anything in KU, flit through to see if they are interested, then return it and try another. And every time that flit through crosses the 10% marker Amazon has to fork out.

The whole Kindle Unlimited master plan is coming apart at the seams.

Kindle czar Russ Grandinetti is no doubt spitting blood. But he’s not stupid. There’s s simple solution, and one likely as not that has been on the cards all along,or at least since non-Select titles started appearing in KU and showing up in non-Select authors’ dashboards.

Put all KDP titles into KU as standard, whether Select or not, and make KU free for Prime members.

It’s a no brainer for Grandinetti and Bezos.

Yes, it will cause a few weeks of ill-feeling in the blogospshere, but since when did Amazon take any notice of its content suppliers’ concerns? Just look at Hachette. By dropping the exclusivity clause and letting the non-Select authors stay on other retailers it will keep the whining b******s quiet and give the Amazon cheerleaders something to shout about.

Those who stay exclusive in Select will continue to get the bonuses like extra visibility with the KU algorithms, the five days free promo, and of course Countdown. And maybe something new to sweeten that chalice.

The rest of us get shafted with low visibility all round, just as now, as Amazon drives traffic to exclusive KU titles.

Indie authors will be able to sell on Apple and Nook and Google Play, etc, and also still get a few regular sales on Amazon, while watching their Zon income plummet as millions of Prime members download their works for free, on top of the downloads already happening through regular KU subscribers.

 

Yes, Amazon will throw a ton of money in the pot and make sure we all know it. but it will stay deathly silent about the payout, and as usual we won’t even know what it is until it happens, but a safe bet the indie authors will get paid even more of a pittance than is already on offer, instead of the “royalties” they signed up for.

Here’s the thing: None of us are going to walk away from Amazon if Grandinetti does this.

Yes, we’ll make lots of noise. Lots! Gosh, will we be noisy! And yes, we can all grandstand now about how we are pulling out of KU and Select. That’s easy.

But who among us will pull out of Amazon itself?

Amazon still has 60%-65% of the US ebook market overall and, thanks to an unhealthy focus on Amazon at the expense of other retailers these past five years, most indies get a lot more than 65% of their sales from Amazon. Further, most indies have loyal Kindle fans collected over many years. Those fans – especially the ones with Kindle e-readers – are not going to change devices and sign up to another retailer just to get our next book.

So we’ll make a lot of whining sounds, the same as usual, and then carry on, the same as usual, only with a lot less Zon cash heading our way.

Luckily our indie spokesfolk will be there for us.

Joe Konrath will do another post on how evil trad pub is. David Gaughran will do another post on Author Solutions. And Hugh Howey will explain how indies are such bloody ingrates for not staying in KU voluntarily that we deserve all we get, and by the way, KU is working fine for me. What’s the problem?

 ~

No, we are not saying it will happen. The future’s not ours to see.

But the future is ours to plan for.

What we are saying is that Amazon putting all KDP titles into KU and making KU free for Prime members is a realistic possibility. Amazon will do what is in Amazon’s best interests. Period.

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.

Diversify in 2015!

 

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

Hugh Howey Warns Of Shrinking Market Share For Amazon In 2015.

DiversifyIn2015Now there’s a headline we never expected to write. But it seems Howey had a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Future over the festive season, and shared with Galley Cat his “predictions” for 2015. (LINK)

We all know Howey has plenty so say, even if lately it has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous as Howey tries to defend the indefensible. As most indies are slowly coming to terms with the fact that the Amazon honeymoon is over, Howey, blinded by the special treatment he gets from Amazon, is busy digging holes for himself.

Most recently Howey has been offending indies everywhere by asking “does Amazon treat us as second class?”, agreeing Amazon does exactly that, but asserting we deserve no better because we indies are a bunch of scammers and pirates. And no, this is no satire. (LINK)

But in a separate interview with Galley Cat Howey said something far more interesting and relevant. He predicted Amazon will lose market share to Google Play and Apple in 2015. Coming from Howey that’s quite something.

~

 While there are no official stats yet, the anecdotal evidence is building that Google Play in particular is making good headway, both in the US and in the global markets. With sixty or so ebook stores, as opposed to Amazon’s baker’s dozen, Google Play unquestionably has better global reach than Amazon. And with Amazon’s international ebook expansion effectively at a standstill (one new Kindle store this year – the Netherlands, and the hint of another – Russia) Google Play’s global position is obviously going to get stronger and stronger.

But what about in Amazon’s stronghold at home in the US? Is Amazon conceding ground here too?

The US ebook promo newsletter Bookbub is a good barometer of the US ebook market. With four million subscribers it both reflects and helps shapes the ebook market’s direction.

You only have to look at Bookbub to see how, whereas six months ago almost no indie listings carried Google Play buttons, nowadays as much a 75% of the daily twenty Bookbub titles include Google Play.

As an affiliate promo newsletter Bookbub selects listings based on likely sales for those titles, which is why we see the same handful of top selling authors manage to get listings month after month after month while lesser mortals get rejected at a rate of 68 a day.

But what we’ve seen this past several months is a major shift towards multiple-retailer listings, with a very noticeable increase in Google Play buttons.

Obviously it helps that more and more indies are signing up to Google Play in the first place, which in turn is driven by word of mouth reports of good results from those who took the plunge early.

And Apple, we should remember, has this year upgraded visibility of the iBooks store by making it default on iOS8 devices, meaning Apple ebooks are in front of a lot more people, not just in the US but around the world.

But what we also appear to be seeing is KU spectacularly backfiring in one of its primary objectives – to get as many indies exclusive with Amazon as possible to damage the competition.

As the KU payout continues to drop (expect a brief rise in January as Amazon try to stem the haemorrhage of talent, then back to the relentless drive to get the payout below a dollar) so more and more indies, while still available on Amazon, are jumping ship with Select as soon as their ninety days are up and getting back on board – or in many cases on board for the first time – with the other retailers.

How much this is being reflected by the increased multiple-retailer listings on Bookbub and how much Bookbub is helping drive this phenomenon is open to debate, but safe to assume it’s a mixture of both.

As an affiliate site Bookbub stands to earn off each sale, on top of the listing fees. Nothing wrong with that. Just good business.

But there’s the thing: Most Amazon-only listings will be Select titles and therefore in KU.

We ourselves are not an affiliate operator so are unfamiliar with the details of the arrangement, but logical to assume that KU borrows are either giving a very small return for affiliates, or more likely none at all, on the grounds Amazon asserts the downloads are “free”.

Assuming that is so, it is not in the interest of any affiliate site to excessively promote Amazon-exclusive titles. Yes, they still carry some, because it’s still a great deal for subscribing readers. But self-evidently not as many as they used to.

By increasing the listings with multiple retailers Bookbub acts in its own business interests and in the interests of its subscribers, but in doing so Bookbub is driving more traffic from its four million subscribers to those other retailers.

Which makes Howey’s prediction that Amazon will lose market share to Apple and Google Play a realistic one.

Howey of course has the original date (as opposed to what the public gets to see) from the Author Earnings reports, and also invites indie authors to submit feedback about how they are doing.

Feedback we are getting from indies is very clear. Those who have taken the time to diversify are reaping big rewards. All the more so as Amazon twists the KU knife. Some authors are reporting Amazon reduced to bringing in less than 25% of their income as a) Amazon drives readers to KU making the main Amazon site a backwater, and b) the efforts promoting the other retailers pays off.

No reason to think the feedback Howey is getting will be very different. And a safe bet that data is behind Howey’s “predictions”.

We use that term loosely. Howey’s other big predictions are straight out of Mystic Meg’s Crystal Ball & Tarot Readings tent at the local fair.

The fate of B&N will shake out next year. Really? What with Nook all set to be sold off and all? That’s not a prediction, Hugh. That’s a statement of the obvious. A prediction is telling us HOW it will shake out.

Howey also says “I predict eBook penetration will continue to grow.”

How does he do it? Where do these insights come from that are denied us lesser mortals? And there we all were thinking the ebook fad was over and everyone was going to buy print books instead.

But let’s get back to the one prediction we can concur with.

As a rule when we find ourselves agreeing with the Amazon cheerleaders it’s time for a cold shower and some strong coffee. But two ice buckets and three triple espressos later it still reads like Howey said Amazon will lose market share to Apple and Google Play in 2015.

Well, it is Christmas, and Ebeneezer Howey does indeed appear to have had a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Future.

Take heed. It’s not just us saying this.

Diversify In 2015!

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

One To Watch – Ridibooks, South Korea

Go Global In 2014For those here looking at the long-term global ebook markets, this is significant. For the rest of you, go read or watch A Christmas Carol. Then come back and read this with Christmas Future in mind.

Ridibooks have just secured another round of funding for expansion of their ebook business. (LINK) They already control 40% of the Korean ebook market.

Korea is a surprisingly strong player in the global publishing world and, perhaps even more surprisingly, a very strong player in ESL. English as a Second Language. As the year ends Korean firms have been very active in Latin America on the other side of the world, for example, offering ESL literature.

A reminder as ever that we are lucky enough to write in the one global language. English. Don’t let that stroke of good fortune go to waste.

Korea is an exciting, literate, hi-tech market that understands it has a geographically niche language, and places a premium on the English language.

As yet no easy way to get indie EL titles (or indeed translated titles) into Ridibooks or other domestic South Korean ebook stores, and of course neither Amazon nor Apple are there. Fortunately Google Play is, and Kobo has designs on Korea. South Korea, at least. Even we here at EBUK are not so optimistic as to envisage a North Korea ebook market kicking off any time soon.

No, South Korea is not a market to go expending time and energy on right now, unless you have contacts there or know the language. But it is certainly not one to ignore.

Getting noticed by a Korean publisher could bring its own rewards, but more importantly our guess is Ridibooks has its eyes on the wider world. With both Amazon and Apple effective non-players in the Asian ebook scene (Amazon only in India, China and Japan, Apple only in Japan) the region is wide open for “local” players like Korea’s Ridibooks, Thailand’s Ookbee and Indonesia’s Scoop to gain traction.

Make no mistake. The global ebook market will eclipse the US ebook market many times in the coming years. And Asia will be at the forefront.

No, no point busting a blood vessel trying to get there. But as we saw recently when Brit indies took the number one spot on Kindle China, if you’re not there you could be missing out.

 

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

 

 

Exodus! Konrath Joins The Big-Hitters Leaving Kindle Unlimited As Amazon Continues To Punish Indies For Their Loyalty.

Go Global In 2014

When Joe Konrath launched his latest attack on trad pub, in the form of a “translation” of Macmillan CEO John Sargent’s statement to Macmillan authors, we looked on in amazement as Konrath appeared to take hypocrisy to a whole new level.

Konrath slammed Macmillan for even thinking about putting Macmillan backlist titles into subscription services, saying that these services devalued books, and that authors were badly remunerated, even noting that indie authors were complaining about Kindle Unlimited’s lousy payout.

But as we asked in comments on the Amazon-affiliate blog The Passive Voice, which carried Konrath’s post (LINK),

“If subscription services are such a bad idea, why are your titles in one at all, and why is it they are in the one that, unlike Scribd and Oyster, treats indies as second class, imposes conditions on indies other publishers are not required to meet, pays indies less than other publishers, and will not even tell us in advance what that ever-diminishing payment will be?”

Konrath didn’t respond to that. But other authors picked up on the apparent hypocrisy and successful indie author Mel Comley, on Konrath’s own blog, coyly asked Joe exactly why he had all his titles in KU if subscription services were such a bad idea.

Konrath responded,

“I’ve taken them all out after this period”, adding lamely, “to compare numbers.” (LINK)

And so we end 2014 with a bang! Konrath adds his name to the list of big-hitting authors like HM Ward who are deserting Kindle Unlimited after seeing their income plummet.

It’s not clear when Konrath will be officially out, but the wording offers room for further speculation. Konrath says he’s taking all (not some, all) his titles out “after this period”. The mixed tense suggests he’s pulling them when the current 90 day KDP Select runs finishes.

(Edited) But why wait? When KU launched, all Select titles were included but it gave indies the chance to opt-out. Konrath clearly chose to stay in despite his belief subscription services devalue books. It seems that opt-out is no longer available, which presumably means Konrath is leaving KDP Select itself, and with it Amazon exclusivity, and going back to all the big retailers.

A safe bet this news will make a lot more indie authors question the value both of being in Kindle Unlimited, and in KDP Select.

Hugh Howey perhaps the exception. Howey left KDP Select back in 2012, but in September of this year was saying going all-in with Amazon was his inclination. (LINK)

Howey of course was one of the authors who got the red carpet treatment from Amazon and was allowed to be in KU and sell on other retailers too. And needless to say he has seen a lot more sales/borrows from Amazon as a consequence.

With logic that beggars belief Howey then concludes that being exclusive with Amazon, with just 65% of the US ebook market and sweet FA of most of the global market, reaches more readers than being available on all retailers everywhere and on Amazon as well.

If Howey cannot grasp the simple fact that Amazon is tilting the playing field in his favour to keep him on board, increasing his titles’ visibility at the expense of other authors not exclusive with Amazon then there’s no hope for him.

Or maybe Howey really believes that 65% of the ebook market is somehow bigger than 100%.

By all means go exclusive with Amazon, Hugh, while they are rigging things in your favour. You write for a living, not for free. But don’t pretend you really think that somehow Amazon’s KU has magicked out of thin air millions of new readers equivalent to more than 35% of the US ebook market. Most KU subscribers are the exact same Kindle readers who were previously paying full price for our books and now getting the same books for less.

Or just maybe you will do the right thing and join Joe Konrath in pulling your titles from KU. KU might not be hurting your pocket, Hugh, but you know as well as we do that for most indies it’s a different story. You can’t champion our cause by looking the other way.

2015 was already promising to be a watershed year for the industry, and this latest show of disaffection from Konrath, one of Amazon’s most vocal supporters, makes the prospects for 2015 all the more interesting.

Now it’s time for the other Amazon cheerleaders like David Gaughran and the aforementioned Hugh Howey to declare their hand and draw a line in the sand. Come on guys, grasp the nettle.

Hard through it may be to understand, we don’t need more posts telling is how scammy Author Solutions is. We don’t need more posts telling us how evil trad pub is. Seriously. We’ve got the message. You’re preaching to the choir.

Here’s the thing, guys. We indies know about Author Solutions. It doesn’t affect us. We know about trad pub. If it affects us it’s already too late because we are contracted, or we’ve made a conscious choice to go down that route.

What Amazon does affects us all, every day, whether its “royalty” cuts at Audible or stealth “royalty” cuts through KU, “royalties” that vary from country to country, lower “royalties” at certain price points, demands for exclusivity, etc.

Apple manages to pay us 70% (or more accurately to charge us just 30%) across the board regardless of list price, regardless of where the sale is made, and without demanding exclusivity.

Scribd and Oyster manages to pay us a full “royalty” rate for our borrows in their subscription services.  No exclusivity required.

Meanwhile Amazon has been turning the screws. We’ve seen KU payouts drop from around $2.30 to below $1.40 in less than six months. For ordinary indies not called Hugh Howey Kindle Unlimited is Amazon’s digital equivalent of a sweatshop factory in China or India. No wonder Joe Konrath is calling it a day.

Come on guys, give the Author Solutions bashing and Trad Pub a bashing a rest for 2015, and start addressing the real issues that affect us indies every day. Kindle Unlimited is top of the list.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

 

Bookmate Subscription Service Launches In Singapore

Go Global In 2014The Russian ebook subscription service Bookmate (LINK) has just launched in Singapore (LINK), as the first stage of its Asia-Pacific expansion.

As Amazon blocks downloads to Singapore there’s little chance of KU ever being available there, and Apple hasn’t got an iBooks store in the region either, but now Bookmate joins Scribd as a subscription service for readers in Singapore. And for those who prefer sales there’s always Google Play, Kobo and e-Sentral, as well as regional players like Ookbee.

Bookmate are partnered with Singapore digital operator Starhub, who already have their own domestic ebook store, Booktique. Or maybe that should be had, as we can’t seem to find it right now.

As we reported way back in October 2013 (LINK) one of the biggest problems for Singapore ebook stores has been publishers pricing at US levels in a country where living costs are price expectations are much lower.

Hopefully the subscription option, making accessible almost half a million titles, will help boost interest in ebooks in this small but significant English-speaking country.

As yet none of the free-to-upload distributors have partnered with Bookmate, so off-limits to most indies, although you can get in through Ebook Partnership

But Bookmate has extensive global reach, and is definitely one to watch.

The subscription model for ebooks is fine when used properly. Scribd and Bookmate are both excellent ways of reaching global readers in places where regular sales access is limited or unavailable.

Don’t let the disappointment that is KU colour your judgement about the subscription model in general and the potential it has for global reach. KU isn’t working for authors because Amazon is using it to cannibalize full-royalty sales. Other subscription models are not doing that.

When two roads diverge in the woods, take the one less travelled by. It will make all the difference.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

Where Next For Review Scams. KU, Maybe?

Go Global In 2014Here’s a neat little variation of the age-old buy-a-review scam.

This enterprising Brit will, if you hand over a fiver (£5 GBP) buy your ebook from Kindle UK, up to a value of £1.99, and then leave you a VERIFIED positive review. (LINK)

For a £1.99 title you’ll get 70% back anyway from Amazon, so £1.40 coming back to you from the buy itself. Therefore a five-star verified purchase review for just £3.60.

Anyone with more money than scruples racing off to take advantage should bear in mind Amazon can, if so inclined, pretty easily find out what this person’s Amazon account is, ban her and remove any reviews she has placed.

This from the Amazon review guidelines: (LINK)

“We do not permit reviews or votes on the helpfulness of reviews that are posted in exchange for compensation of any kind, including payment (whether in the form of money or gift certificates), bonus content, entry to a contest or sweepstakes, discounts on future purchases, extra product, or other gifts.”

Meantime we await with interest the first entrepreneur to offer their services to download, say, five of your KU titles and skim through 10%, netting you a pot payout for each one. A KU subscriber need only get two paying clients to cover the subscription.

For the author it would be a no-brainer (no ethics, either, but that’s another story). With the pot at around $1.30 per borrow, five titles downloaded and skimmed through (by 10% read, Amazon just count how many pages were turned) would net the author $6.50.

The scam artist charging $5 could easily carry ten clients a month, netting them $50 income. Twenty clients and a $100 a month, etc. Pay out the KU subscription and they are up $40/$90 on the deal. As KU is unlimited they can download and skim through ten books in as many minutes, never reading a word of any, and making themselves a nice little income and the author a nice little income.

Maybe it’s already happening. If not, rest assured it soon will be.

 Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

 

Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall, Who’s The Cheapest Of Them All?

Go Global In 2014

Not for the first time this year, a survey has shown that a certain e-commerce giant, famed for offering better value than anywhere else, comes in a poor second or third when it comes to offering the lowest prices.

Bargains-hunter site Shopsavvy (LINK) have just completed a survey of popular consumer goods across seven categories – computers, electronics, entertainment, home and garden, kids, and sports and outdoors – and found Wal-Mart offered lower prices across the board compared to Best Buy and Amazon. (LINK)

This comes as no surprise to us. We’ve been monitoring ebook prices through our daily promo newsletters, and found that, even with Amazon’s Most Favoured Nation clause which dictates indie authors may not list on another retailer at a lower price than on Amazon, the Everything Store often does not have the lowest price ebooks.

In the US Amazon holds its own best, thanks to a common policy among most retailers that $0.99 is the lowest price option available. But even here we often find Txtr US (LINK) has ebooks as low as $0.75 and even $0.60. Likewise the Smashwords partner stores Inktera (LINK) and Versent (LINK). Very few indie authors are in the Books-A-Million store (LINK), but when they are it’s quite usual to see a price point of just $0.79.

In the UK Txtr (LINK) again regularly undercuts Kindle UK’s bottom line price of £0.77. So does Nook UK and Apple. Nook UK often carries titles at 75p, 65p or even 60p.

Apple has a policy we would love to see implemented at Amazon – that all list prices end in a nine. Apart from anything else it keeps the product pages looking professional. When you see an ebook prices at CDN$1.11 or AU$1.13 or 102.73 rupees it screams out that this is an indie title and the author/publisher has taken the lazy option and set the US price on Amazon and then let Amazon set the other prices against the US dollar.

And it’s not just about looking good. It’s about making/losing sales.

When we set that .99 price point on the US we do so for a reason. Because it’s a psychological ceiling to the buyer. $0.99 is under a dollar. $1.03 is over a dollar. $2.99 is clearly cheaper than three dollars. $3.23 is not.

You think it doesn’t matter? Then why not set your US price at US$1.03 or $3.23 instead of the carefully listed 0.99 or 2.99 you carefully chose?

Exactly. It matters.

And it matters all the more in Australia, where lax price listing in KDP can send your ebooks soaring over the psychological ceiling you set for the US, seriously impacting your sales.

Amazon already makes selling in Australia that much harder by setting the lowest price for a 70% royalty at AU$3.99 on Kindle AU when typically the same title will be available on Apple AU, Txtr AU, Kobo AU, Google Play AU, as well as Kobo partner stores like Angus & Robertson and Bookworld, etc, at just AU$2.99.

For those who chose to let Amazon set the price against the US dollar that AU$3.99 ebook, already obliged to be a dollar more than on Kindle US or Kindle Canada (and no, currency exchange rates do not justify this difference), shoots up to around the AU$4.40 mark on the Kindle AU site. An AU$4.99 title will appear at about AU$5.50 if you take the lazy pricing route.

Another factor impacting pricing on the Kindle UK and EU stores has been VAT. When you set your list price in KDP, Amazon adds the VAT to the list price showing. So even if you carefully chose 99p (£0.99) as your UK price point in your dashboard the price showing on the UK product page would be £1.02 or £1.03.

This matter resolves itself in a few weeks when Amazon adopts a new policy of setting UK and EU prices on the product page at the price we chose in the dashboard. But be warned even then if you are letting Amazon set your UK/EU price by the US dollar rate the price showing will still likely be an untidy one.

The new change kicks in from 01 January 2015 and is going to cause a lot of confusion for indie authors selling in the UK and EU with regard to the royalty they will receive. We’ll take a closer look at this development later this month.

Meantime, pop along to your Kindle listings store by store, country by country, and see if you have a tidy list price below the psychological buy ceiling, or a messy one above that ceiling that could be deterring readers.

You can do so via the KDP dashboard, or simply go the store direct. Open the Amazon store where you are (you may need to try a different browser to avoid Amazon re-directing you to your local store again), find one of your titles, and check the URL address.

Where it says (for US) Amazon (dot) com (slash) your title, simply change the (dot) com coding for each country.

Change Amazon (dot) com to (dot) co (dot) uk for the British store.

Change Amazon (dot) com to (dot) ca for the Canada store.

Change Amazon (dot) com to (dot) com (dot) au for the Australia store.

Change Amazon (dot) com to (dot) in for the India store.

Change Amazon (dot) com to (dot) com (dot) br for the Brazil store.

Change Amazon (dot) com to (dot) co (dot) mx for the Mexico store.

Change Amazon (dot) com to (dot) co (dot) jp for the Japan store.

Change Amazon (dot) com to (dot) de for the Germany store.

For other EU countries – Spain, Italy, France and the Netherlands the codes are respectively ES, IT, FR and NL.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

Kobo Kicks Off The Race For The Middle East.

Go Global In 2014

Those indies frustrated by the difficulties presented reaching readers in the potentially lucrative Middle East market have reason to be cheerful today, with news that Kobo is making a concerted effort to become a player in the region.

Neither Apple nor Google Play have ebook stores in the Middle East (although Google Play is in Turkey, which is bloody close!), and Amazon famously blocks downloads to anyone who hasn’t got a pre-existing western Kindle account. Great for expats and westerners working in the region. Not so great for local people.

We reported on the developing interest in ebooks in the region back in March in a post entitles Ebook Store Go Forth And Multiply In the Middle East (LINK), and before that, in an article entitle How Much Water Does It Take To Make An Ebook? (LINK) we looked at the climate factors that have meant many areas of the world have been no-go areas for print books but are now opening up to digital reading.

More recently, in July, we predicted Google Play would be the first major western operator to open ebook stores in the Middle East. (LINK)

We stand by that. Kobo isn’t launching a localized store for any of the Middle East countries. But what it is doing is making a concerted effort to get Kobo devices into bricks & mortar stores in the region, with the knock-on effect that device-buyers will buy from the Kobo international ebook store.

It’s a BIG step forward for e-reading in the region, and a big opportunity to find new readers for those indies in Kobo looking to extend their global reach.

Kobo have partnered with regional operator Lionfish to get Kobo devices into 34 stores across the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) states, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. (LINK)

While the Kobo ebook store has previously been accessible in the Middle East it was pretty much unknown, so this move will help build awareness of the Kobo store not just for Kobo device buyers but also for readers with smartphones or iPads who can download a Kobo app.

So far it’s just a handful of the GCC countries, and no localized store, but it’s a welcome start.

We hope Kobo will be looking to expand its presence in the rest of the Middle East and the Arabic-speaking states across North Africa in 2015, but our money is still on Google Play to be the first to actually set up dedicated stores there.

The Digital Reader, also covering this story (LINK), mentions the Arabic-language store Kotobi (LINK). Kotobi is on our “investigate” list, but so far we haven’t made much progress. If anyone out there is familiar with the store, do let us know.

And as a final thought, for anyone with the knowledge or contacts to get Arabic translations of their works, this move by Kobo could make the endeavoiur worthwhile.

Ebook Bargains UK.

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

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

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.