2015 is not off to a good start, with news that the ebook store Blinkbox Books and the audiobook store Bardowl are both folding. And as this post goes to press it looks like the Berlin-based ebook operator Txtr is insolvent. To which we can add continuing uncertainty over two of the Tolino Alliance stores in Germany, with a cloud hanging over the future of both Weltbild and Thalia.
But let’s keep things positive.
Too soon for any details on Txtr, so lwe’ll stick with Blinkbox and the silver lining in this news for indies.
With the tragic announcement that Tesco’s Blinkbox Books ebook store was to close, there was briefly some doubt about what would happen to its customers, but that problem, at least, has been resolved.
Kobo will be taking over the Blinkbox customer list in the UK, which will almost certainly see a boost in indie sales in the UK as Blinkbox readers see indie titles for the first time this March. Blinkbox was a trad-pub only outlet.
As well as the Kobo UK site, readers can buy from Kobo via WH Smith, which recently re-opened its doors to indie titles.
But Sainsbury have jumped in early to grab some of those customers. Sainsbury is the rival UK supermarket chain with an ebook store, and like Blinkbox owners Tesco, Sainsbury deals directly with the big publishers, so no indie access as yet.
For those still partying like is 2009, when high trad pub ebook prices meant an open goal for indies, it’s worth looking at Sainsbury’s latest newsletter today, offering 300 nectar points (worth £3.00 in-store) for an impressive run of trad pubbed titles at just £1.99 – well below what many indies are charging in the UK right now. (LINK) Throw in the nectar points and effectively you are being paid a pound to buy an ebook from Sainsbury!
Amazon will of course price-match, meaning more cheap trad pubbed titles on Kindle UK to compete with too. Hey, no-one ever said selling books was going to be easy!
For readers it’s win-win, at least in the short term.
For writers… Well, that’s down to us. No question things are harder nowadays, but also no question there are more opportunities for authors now than ever there was in 2009.
We all have the choice to sit back and pretend nothing has changed and nothing ever will… or to study the changes, look for opportunities that suit our particular circumstances, our genre niches and our readership ambitions, and seize them.
Those that do will likely still be around on the writing circuit to see what 2020 brings. Those that don’t…