An Open Appeal To Draft2Digital, StreetLib, Smashwords, Pronoun, PublishDrive, Xin-Xii Et Al – Help Us Indies Benefit Fully From Your Partner Stores!

Why do our distributors keep their core customers in the dark about their  reach?

Between the various pay-as-you-sell aggregators we indie authors have some very impressive global reach.

Pay-up-front aggregators like Bookbaby and Ebook Partnership still offer some outlets the free-to-upload operators do not – Ingram, Copia, etc.

But the gap is narrowing. Smashwords and PublishDrive will now get us into Gardners and Odilo. StreetLib will get us into BajaLibros and Nubleer. All three will get us into Tolino. Draft2Digital and StreetLib will get us into 24Symbols, etc, etc.

Smashwords has some great outlets others don’t – Baker & Taylor Libraries, Baker & Taylor’s Blio, for example.

But for most indies these stores are just meaningless names that deliver no results and are therefore considered inconsequential to our interests.

Who knows anything of Baker & Taylor or Tolino or Odilo or Gardners? For most Smashwords users these are just names in the dashboard, nothing more.

Odilo now gets us into the Philippines and Odilo and Gardners recently partnered, but apart from a mention of Odilo on the Smashwords blog late last year, which was copy-pasted from an out of date Odilo press release (the Philippines reach was already extant, but Smashwords reported Odilo’s reach in “three continents”, blissfully unaware Odilo was already operational in Asia), there is no data of value available on the Smashwords site about Odilo.

Dan Wood at Draft2Digital, Anne-Catherine de Fombelle at StreetLib – same applies to you guys – how many of your regular users know how many countries 24Symbols or Tolino reaches? Where can they find the Tolino stores to see if their books are listed?

Antonio Tombolini at StreetLib, and Kinga Jentetics PublishDrive, you guys have a simply wonderful selection of global outlets in the dashboard that an internationalist geek like me can stare lovingly at all day, but for most indies and newcomers to StreetLib or PublishDrive, who knows anything at all about most of them?

I know you all give them mentions when a new outlet launches, but for any client author who misses those posts these outlets are just meaningless names.

Dan Wood, Inktera has wonderful global reach and offers local currency prices everywhere, but I’m guessing most Draft2Digital users have no idea what Inktera is, and if they’ve clicked on the link and been taken to Inktera’s US store will think it’s some micro-US player and therefore worthless.

Draft2Digital links us to 24 Symbols (also offered by StreetLib) but we would have no idea from Draft2Digital’s link that 24Symbols is a major global subscription player, not just in Spain but with reach in Russia and Germany, and in Latin America in Colombia, Argentina and Guatemala, and is now looking at the lucrative Spanish-language market in the US.

Draft2Digital has a Partners page which offers a few words about 24Symbols (and even fewer about Inktera), but nothing here to inspire us to take a closer look and engage with these stores.

The Tolino section mentions some Tolino partners but that’s it. There isn’t a “Tolino ebooks store” as such, so a list of links to the Tolino partner stores would be really useful.

“With retailers spread across 4 countries in central Europe and nearly 1,500 retail stores in Germany and 300 stores in other countries, Tolino gives authors tremendous access to the European market,” says Draft2Digital, leaving us totally in the dark as to which countries they may be or what these stores are.

Anne-Catherine at StreetLib, you of course reported on the StreetLib-Playster partnership earlier this year (Dan at Draft2Digital, it is safe to say the Draft2Digital-Playster partnership has fallen by the wayside?) but for newcomers signing up with StreetLib Playster is just another never-heard-of-before name in a long list of what, for most indies, will be never-heard-of-before names.

How many of StreetLib’s users, unless they happened to see and later remember the announcement posts, have any idea where BajaLibros or Nubleer operate? Who would know that Hummingbirddm is not just an outlet but somewhere we indies can set up our own stores and sell other authors’ books? Who would know that Gandhi is in fact not in India at all but a major player in Mexico?

Come to that how many people know that Kobo is not just the Kobo store, but has localized stores in many countries and partner stores in many more? How many Draft2Digital, StreetLib, Pronoun, XinXi, PublishDrive and Smashwords authors have any idea Kobo books will be in WH Smith in the UK, Angus & Robertson-Bookworld in Australia, Mondadori in Italy, etc, etc? I’ve lost count of how many indies email me asking where they can distribute their ebooks in Italy and have no idea that Kobo serves Italy’s biggest book store.

(Smashwords does in fact have an out of date list of Kobo partner stores tucked away in the maze of Smashwords pages, but how many of us will ever dig that far?)

How many Draft2Digital, PublishDrive, Pronoun, Xin-Xii, Smashwords and StreetLib authors have any idea our Kobo ebooks are available in literally hundreds of IndieBound independent bookstores across the USA?

Google Play of course has 75 global stores. Apple 51.

Draft2Digital tell us in the Partners section Apple has 51 stores but there’s no suggestion as to which 51 countries these are. StreetLib users will have no idea which 75 countries Google Play will get us. Pronoun, XinXii and PublishDrive, same applies.

Knowing this info helps us as indie authors focus our next translations and marketing endeavours. It’s basic data that StreetLib and Draft2Digital and Smashwords and Pronoun et al must surely have access to, but are not offering us, your core clients.

What I would love to see – from StreetLib, Draft2Digital, Smashwords, PublishDrive, Pronoun, XinXii et al – is specific pages on site with full and regularly up-dated data on each of the outlets you guys offer.

I would love to see interviews with the teams at Playster and 24Symbols and Inktera, etc, telling us what they can offer us as indie authors, exactly where they can get us, in what currencies, etc, and how we might engage, bringing more sales for those outlets and thereby more revenue for author and aggregator.

I would love to see regular posts and email shots from the aggregators with not just news but reminders about the distribution options they offer, fully updated.

Something like, for example, a monthly “Meet The Retailers” series of posts that would give us an in-depth look at each retail and library outlet and how best we indies can make use of them.

Many indies won’t even know fully where Amazon will and won’t get us, or which countries it blocks downloads to or surcharges, or which countries apart from the obvious are served by the Kindle stores (Belgium via Amazon FR, Austria via Amazon DE, etc), let alone where Apple or Google Play or Kobo will get us.

What data we may know will often be out of date because the global ebook scene is ever-changing and old posts dug up from the internet archives don’t reflect these changes. Xin-Xii are embarrassingly still claiming to distribute to Whitcoulls, which stopped selling ebooks several years ago…

Google Play’s new discoverability features announced this month? StreetLib, Pronoun, PublishDrive and XinXii, you should be telling your authors about this and reminding us that Google Play is the biggest global operator by store range and telling us where these stores are and how we can make the most of Google Play.

(UPDATE – Anne-Catherine de Fombelle of StreetLib has since put a post on Medium about Google Play which is well worth a look.)

Kobo’s picking up the Sainsbury customer base in the UK? This is something all the aggregators could be reporting on, because it means a few more eyeballs on our books in Kobo UK, and it’s an opportunity to remind authors of all the other partner stores Kobo has. Likewise the stalled Kobo partnership with National Book Store in the Philippines and the news that Kobo will be making extra efforts with its localized Philippines store.

This is the sort of stuff we need to know to benefit fully from your distribution services.

Give us a breakdown by continent and country on which outlets will get us where, and which languages may do best where.

How many indies realise that the USA is the biggest Spanish-speaking market? The USA has more Spanish speakers than Spain and a far higher Spanish literacy rate than Mexico.

How many indies realise Germany is one of the biggest English-language markets, or that the Philippine is major English-language country?

There is so much more the aggregators can offer us with our distribution that just distribution itself.

Having this sort of information readily available and frequently reminded of means we indie authors can use your services more effectively.

Good for the retailers. Good for the authors. Good for the aggregators.

A win-win for all concerned for very little cost and effort your end.

I’m sure you guys at Pronoun, Draft2Digital, StreetLib, Smashwords, XinXii and PublishDrive have enough manpower to make this happen, and of course you have the direct contacts to get the very latest data from the partner operations and keep us all in the loop as new developments emerge.

Failing that, commission a freelancer with relevant knowledge to put this stuff together for you, so you can make it available on site and to your authors direct by email drops and blog posts.

But don’t… please, please don’t… go to all the effort to make these wonderful new outlets available to us and then leave us in the dark as to how we can best benefit from them and what new opportunities they offer.

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