Category Archives: Australia ebooks

2016: The Year So Far For Internationalist Indie Authors

2016 The Year So Far

2016 is simply racing by. Either my calendar is on amphetamines or February’s gone, April is looming, and we’re well on the slippery slope to 2017, with 2020 just around the corner.

A step nearer to the the first decade of 5G and the Internet of Things. A decade that, for publishing, is going to make the tumult of the 2010s seem rather tame by comparison.

I’ll be re-visiting the future as we go, because any of us planning on still being on the writing and publishing circuit in the 2020s needs to be preparing now for the challenges ahead.

But we also need to keep one eye on the present because, to paraphrase John Donne, no writer is an island, and events unfolding around us largely unnoticed now will determine all our futures.

So I’m kicking off March with a look back on how 2016 is shaping up so far for us internationalist indie authors looking at the bigger picture than next month’s pay-cheque. (A reminder there, for any new readers, that I write in British English!).

And a reminder too that I live and write in West Africa, and sometimes the distractions of Third World life play havoc with my blogging schedule.

This is my first blog post in over a month. But I do post far more frequently – pretty much every day, often several times a day – over at the International Indie Author Facebook Group. (LINK)

While blogs have a permanence and discoverability Facebook sorely lacks, Facebook Groups are great for interaction. It’s a telling point that the Facebook Group, with fewer members than there are followers of this blog, gets far more productive, daily engagement than the blog does.

So do pop along and sign up to the IIA Facebook Group and enjoy daily reflections on Going Global.

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Meantime, back to 2016 so far.

Amazon is lining up suppliers for a new music subscription service intended to go head to head with Apple’s music subscription option and to challenge the established music subscription players like Spotify.

Currently Amazon offers a limited music subscription service option free to Prime members, but this latest move – expected to materialise in the latter half of this year – indicates the mighty Zon has bigger ambitions than just keeping Prime members on board.

It begs the question, where does Amazon go from here with subscriptions? And more pertinently for us, ebook subscriptions?

I’ve long suggested Amazon will, when the time is right and the costs are down enough, make Kindle Unlimited available free to Prime members.

KU may have a million titles, but in real terms the choice is limited, just like the Prime music and video selections.

But whereas Prime members get the music and video free they are asked to pay full price for KU (aside from the one free title a month).

The logical next step would be to make KU available free to Prime members in its current format, and then re-launch KU proper as a “real” ebook subscription service, dropping the exclusivity condition.

Dropping the exclusivity condition for self-publishers for the extended KU could bring into the game the titles of the many indie authors who play the wider game and are therefore excluded from KU by Amazon’s current rules.

That would be a win for the revamped subscription service – lots of new content to attract paying subscribers – and also a further income stream for authors.

But also a win for Amazon’s wider game, undermining the subscription competition.

It may seem like there is no competition to KU, especially now Oyster is out of the game, but to the extent that’s true at all, it’s only true in the US and UK.

Internationally subscription services like Bookmate, 24Symbols and Mofibo are doing just fine, and in the “home markets” niche subscription services are also doing well, while a new global subscription service, Playster, may yet surprise us.

Given Google has soaked up the Oyster team and skills-base it seems likely Google Play will enter the ebook subscription scene at some stage, perhaps with an international service to compete with Bookmate, Playster and Scribd.

And then there’s Apple.

Pundits like to dismiss Apple as a hardware firm that dabbles in content-supply, but that’s self-evidently untrue. Apple has plenty of content ambitions or it wouldn’t have introduced a music subscription service or be fielding 50+ global ebook stores.

Yes, Apple will remain primarily focussed on hardware, just as Amazon remains primarily focussed on e-commerce but dabbles in hardware and building its own content creation. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Last year Apple entered the music subscription game – something Amazon is now preparing to respond to. And while there are no indications yet that Apple is sounding out big pub on launching an ebook subscription service, it‘s a safe bet that it’s on the way.

For Apple, it’s an extra income stream for very little effort as they already have some 50 global iBooks stores. And of course it would be an extra arrow in their quiver to attract buyers to their hardware, which is the whole point of Apple’s content ventures. For the many publishers who don’t have a problem with subscription services per se, but are studiously avoiding KU for obvious reasons, an Apple subscription service would be welcomed.

And in another slow puncture in the wheel of Apple- isn’t-interested-in-content it’s just been announced Apple’s first original TV series is being made.

Something to keep an eye on as this year unfolds.

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But music subscription is not the only content push Amazon is planning.

Currently Amazon is advertising for new technicians to take Audible to a whole new level. I’ll be covering this in detail in a dedicated post on audio shortly.

And yet another event on the Amazon horizon is the arrival of an Amazon used-ebook store.

At the moment it’s only an industry rumour, and there’s no real indication of how this might work, or what its impact might be.

My guess is an Amazon used-ebook store would, like KU, be aimed at the indie circuit. I’ll reflect on why in another post, as so much else to cover right now.

Video, for example.

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Amazon has been actively building its film and TV production arm and clearly has ambitions far beyond simply adding to the free content available for Prime members.

Video is big business. Not just in the US but globally.

Of course, film and TV have long been available worldwide. Nothing new there. But what is new is a) the scale and b) the delivery.

Here in West Africa freeview satellite dishes are everywhere, for those lucky enough to have electric. That’s the same across the world. But old-fashioned satellite broadcasts are a hang-over from the twentieth century, like analogue TVs.

As the Globile (global mobile)  New Renaissance unfolds, access to video – by which I mean mainstream film and TV, not just three-minute home-made footage of a playful kitten on Youtube – is moving to new heights, delivered by mobile broadband.

As the world goes globile (global mobile, don’t forget!) and internet speeds and reliability move to new levels, pretty much the entire globe is within reach of mainstream video, just as pretty much the entire world can now access our ebooks.

Netflix kicked off 2016 with an expansion into 130 new countries, including Pakistan, South Korea, Turkey and Russia, taking Netflix’s reach to 190 countries globally, and in twenty languages.

“In 2016 (Netflix) plans to release 31 new and returning original series, two dozen original feature films and documentaries, a wide range of stand-up comedy specials and 30 original kids series. Netflix will also work to make the rest of its content available worldwide, so it offers the same programming in each market.” (LINK)

So let’s be clear on this. Netflix will be showing classic film and TV from our western culture, making it available around the world to audiences eager to lap it up. And pay for the privilege.

Books are no different. We only have to look at the bestseller charts around the globe to see how translations of top-selling American and British books are being devoured by eager readers in countries are removed from the culture of the US and UK.

Don’t think you need to be a Stephen King or an E.L. James to sell well abroad. Indies can do it too. Those of us who have made the effort to reach out to global audiences have, both for our translations and English-language originals, found a positive reception. Number one on Kindle China, anyone?

But we don’t need to stop at books. Savvier indie authors will be looking at operations like Netflix and asking ourselves – “Can they use my content?”

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If the Netflix scenario were a one-off story, this would still be significant But it’s far from one-off.

A South Korean TV subscription player in January expanded across Asia, observing astutely, “Korean content travels well”.

Hard on the heels of HBO announcing (end 2015) plans to stream video in Spain later this year and the global expansion of Netflix in January, Spain’s Telefonica announced plans to create and broadcast eight to ten series a year, starting in 2017. While Spanish-language focused Telefonica also plans to team up with other major European studios for co-produced English-language works.

January also saw the news that UKTV is to launch a new flagship subscription service called ‘W’ (don’t ask!) laden with original shows.

Steve North, W’s general manager, said, “We have a treasure trove of compelling original commissions, our own crown jewels.”

The tagged report notes that “UKTV’s investment in original content has pulled in millions more viewers to its portfolio of channels”. (LINK)

These are just a few among numerous similar developments as the Global New Renaissance blossoms, allowing countless new players to not just distribute but to create original content.

Which means production studios around the globe are screaming out for new content that can bolster their catalogue. Not just the big Hollywood film and TV studios and their equivalent in other countries, but the upstarts like Amazon Studios, Netflix, HBO, etc and the perhaps less-well known but still big enough to pack a punch producers like UKTV.

No, we don’t need to be professional screenwriters to be excited by this.

Yes, we can stay as we are, fingers crossed, and dream. it’s always possible someone will stumble across our works and want to option them for a TV series or a film. It happens.

But savvy indie authors will be proactive, not trusting to luck.

As I’ll be exploring in detail sometime soon, there are a number of agents who specialize in licensing IP rights for other media. There are also a number of agencies operating IP databases where production teams go to search a database as an easy way to find good content that by definition is available for licensing.

And then of course we have the option to approach production studios ourselves with our titles and show why they would work in other media, or to partner with a third party to produce a script/storyboard/whatever that will get the attention of those production studios. Amazon has its own film storyboarding software available free to use!

Several big publishers are setting up units specifically to team with video-production studios to develop their book titles in other formats, and the only thing stopping indies getting in on the act is our own tendency to think of ourselves as “ebook authors”.

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Moving back to books, and potentially good news on the horizon for indies looking to reach Australia’s readers. Amazon is launching The Book Depository in Australia (LINK), possibly as a prelude to a wider Amazon AU store down the road to compliment the Kindle AU store.

The Book Depository sells print, so is not on the radar of most indies because of our unhealthy focus on ebooks even at “home”, let alone in markets in far flung lands like Australia.

Equally safe to say that for most indies the Australian ebook market is the Kindle AU store, although there are numerous other options to read ebook readers in Australia.

With ebooks accounting for about 7% of total book sales in Australia right now, and ebook take-up growing by 26% per year, it’s worth taking Australia seriously.

That means at the very least being available on Kobo AU, Google Play AU and Apple AU, while for the more ambitious among us there are plenty of other players.

Angus & Robertson, for example, which is supplied by Kobo.

While some smaller AU ebook retailers lost the battle for survival (JB Hi-Fi and Big W both called it a day) other players are holding their own.

Not least Booktopia.

Amazon’s The Book Depository is the biggest player in Australia for on-line print titles even before it sets up shop in situ, but the second largest on-line bookseller is Booktopia, which last year bought out Bookworld, previously owned by Penguin Random House.

Booktopia doesn’t give out ebook stats but it shipped ten million print books last year and expects that to increase now it’s absorbed Bookword’s customer base.

Booktopia expects to sell $80 million worth of print titles in 2016. Amazon, boosted by the Book Depository local-launch, is on target to sell $200 million of print titles.

How much of that $280 million Australian print market will indies be getting a share of?

Very little, no doubt.

As we all know, trad pub has an oh-so-unfair advantage because it can get books into bricks and mortar stores and we indies can’t. Or so the chant goes.

The reality, of course is that indies can, if we make the effort, get print books into bricks and mortar stores, at home and around the globe.

But that debate is academic here because that $280 million market being discussed is all on-line sales, not though bricks and mortar stores.

Very unhelpful for us looking for any excuse to take the path of least resistance. Great news for those of us who are serious about becoming international bestselling authors.

But let’s stay briefly with ebooks. For indies looking at Australia, aside from Kindle AU there is Apple AU, Google Play AU and Kobo AU, as well as the aforementioned Kobo partner store Angus & Robertson. Then there’s Booktopia’s ebook store and beyond that smaller but still significant players like QBD.

If our books aren’t in these stores then obviously Australian readers who frequent these stores will not be able to buy them. It’s that simple.

Being available is half the battle.

How to reach Australian ebook readers? Amazon, Apple and Kobo are easy enough to get into, of course. Google Play not so much, as neither Smashwords nor Draft2Digital distribute to Google Play. Luckily for us, both StreetLib and PublishDrive do.

To get into QBD we need to be in the Copia catalogue, and to get into Booktopia the Ingram catalogue is required.

Yeah, I know. It’s a cruel world. How dare they make life difficult for us over-worked, under-paid indies.

But here’s the thing. The retailers are responding to consumer demand. For some obscure and unfathomable reason consumers prefer to buy from stores that are convenient for them not for us.

Yes, it would be great if readers the world over were all thinking, “Those poor indie authors trying to do it all on their own… Why don’t we all buy from one store to make their lives easier and then they can spend more time writing and less time trying to maximise their distribution.”

But the reality is, our typical reader no more cares about us as authors of the books than we do about the screenplay writers who create the TV dramas and films we ourselves love to watch.

And let’s be honest with ourselves here. How many of us could even name, let alone care about, the writer or writers who wrote that TV drama we were enthralled by last night? Or the latest blockbuster film we watched at the cinema last week?

Exactly.

Bottom line is, it’s our choice. We can put consumers first or put ourselves first.

The path of least resistance is always there if we want to walk it.

But we wouldn’t be here reading this in the first place if that were the case, so take a deep breath and check out Ingram and Copia distribution if you haven’t already.

Australia, with urban populations separated by huge distances, is perfect online-store territory for both print and ebooks, and perfect long-term ebook territory now smartphones have replaced dedicated ereaders as the primary reading device.

Most Australians speak and read English meaning there’s no need for translations to reach this lucrative overseas market.

Yet indies seem largely indifferent to Australia’s charms. Even Australian authors seem to obsess more about the US market than building a fan-base at home. Which is crazy when a glance at any Australian bookseller – print or digital – shows the retailers obsessively promote home-grown Australian talent.

Whether Booktopia can hold its own when The Book Depository goes live in Australia remains to be seen, but the one certainty is the Australian book market – for English-language print, ebooks and audio alike – is worth taking seriously.

I am. How about you?

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Coming back to Amazon yet again, and Kindle Unlimited launched in China last month.

But don’t get too excited. Unless our ebooks are in the Kindle China store in the first place then we’ll not be there.

The good news, for those of us who are there, is that there is no exclusivity conditions so we can continue to reach reads on China’s many other and mostly bigger, ebook retailers while still getting the benefits of KU-China.

Kindle China is not part of the KDP set up, so there are none of the Kindle star names in KU-China to compete with.

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Finally for today, and staying with China:

More Than Half Of China’s Population Is Now Online!

Last summer I reported that India has more people online than the USA has people in it.

2016 kicked off with news that over half of China’s people are now connected to the internet.

688 million people (50.3% for fellow maths obsessives) are connected, and 620 million of those connect using mobile devices.

A reminder, if needed, that the world is going globile. That’s global mobile for anyone who’s not been keeping up.

And also for any newcomers, a mention that the Beijing-based aggregator Fiberead will translate, produce and distribute your titles in China at no up-front cost.

But let’s come back to going globile.

More Indians on the internet than the USA has people in it. Almost twice as many Chinese on the internet than the US has people in it.

Globile – global mobile – is enfranchising literally billions of people who previously had no access to books.

Now people almost everywhere on the planet have a device in their hands that can be used to read our ebooks. As I reported at the start of the year, even Easter Island, the remotest inhabited island in the world, has wi-fi.

The US is and will remain for a while yet the biggest book market in the world. But collectively the rest of the world will dwarf it many times over in coming years.

Already in 2015 India leapfrogged the UK to become the second biggest English language book market and the sixth largest book market overall.

Savvy indies will of course remain focussed on the US and UK markets that sustain us now. But we will also be sowing the seeds for future harvests in the now nascent markets.

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

Go globile in 2016!

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For daily news and views on the global ebook scene, and some great debate, join The International Indie Author Facebook Group. (LINK)

 

 

 

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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.

800,000 Ebooks Downloaded From Digital Libraries In New Zealand in 2013. How Many Were Yours?

Go Global In 2014

When we said back in January that digital libraries an subscription services were the new black and we should all be climbing on board, the suggestion fell on largely deaf ears.

Hey, don’t worry. We’re used to it!

And while the news that US and Canadian libraries had seen 100 million digital downloads through OverDrive was met with surprise, most indies didn’t see it as relevant to their lives, because most indies were not in OverDrive.

That changed this year when Smashwords fixed a deal to get indie titles into OverDrive’s library catalogue. True, there were more than few problems along the way not least when OverDrive appeared to shunt all Smashwords titles into a ghetto zone only viewable by librarians – there are today over 150,000 indie titles showing in the OverDrive public catalogue through Smashwords.

Along with a good many through forward-thinking aggregators like Ebook Partnership, who have been supplying OverDrive much longer.

New Zealand, a small country with a small population (less than 5m) saw 800,000 ebooks loaned from its digital libraries in 2013, through OverDrive and the local library distributor Wheelers. (LINK)

That was before Smashwords got indie books in, but even before that many indies had been seeing increased library traffic year on year from digital libraries, including those Australia and New Zealand, for several years.

Safe to say the 2014 figures for digital libraries in New Zealand and everywhere else will be significantly higher. And for 2015…

As we said back in January, digital libraries and subscription services are the new black. (LINK)

KU aside, that remains true.

But just like in any other outlet, while being there is half the battle, getting discovered is in large part down to you.

Find your links in OverDrive (LINK) and let people know. Tweet and FB to readers in Australia, New Zealand, etc, etc, that they can borrow your books from their local library.

We are the luckiest generation of authors ever to have lived. We have opportunities to reach global audiences quite unimaginable ten… even five… years ago.

A report just out values the global ebook market at $14.5 billion. (LINK)

OverDrive is one such portal to the world. Thanks to Smashwords it’s easier than ever to be there, and at no up-front cost.

Make no mistake, digital libraries ARE the new black, and OverDrive is the single biggest supplier of global digital content.

And there are plenty of other ways for indies to access the that $14.5bn global ebook market.

Not there? Your loss, because the readers are.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

Ebook Bargains UK Rolls Out Buy Buttons For OverDrive, Scribd And Oyster And Kindle Unlimited.

Go Global In 2014

Here at Ebook Bargains UK we are committed to promoting a healthy and diverse global ebook market.

From the beginning we took a conscious decision not to go down the affiliate route.

This was a) to maintain our editorial independence as observers and commentators through the blog;

b) to ensure we were open to promoting ebook stores as widely as possible, regardless of whether they had an affiliate scheme we could make money off;

and c) to ensure we were not drawn down the route of favouring some better-selling authors over others less-well-established who were less likely to bring in affiliate fees.

The downside to that of course is that we rely solely on advertiser fees for revenue. As our subscriber base is small (inevitably, as we are targeting nascent markets) the fees are low, which in turn impinges our ability to develop as rapidly as we might like.

But we are getting there. If you haven’t seen our daily promo newsletters recently, check out the links below, to see how things are changing for the better.

First and foremost – and one in the eye for those who repeatedly assert we are anti-Amazon because we occasionally run posts on the blog that are less than flattering about the Everything Store – we now carry buy buttons for the Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription service.

We think it safe to say we are the ONLY ebook promo newsletter carrying KU buttons at this time.

As of this month we are also carrying buttons for OverDrive digital libraries, and the subscription services Scribd and Oyster. Again, we are probably the only promo newsletter reaching out to readers using these platforms.

For those unfamiliar, we also carry buy buttons for the global Txtr stores and Google Play stores, for Smashwords, for All-Romance and OmniLit, for Blio, Versent and for Books A Million, and of course the usual suspects Amazon, Apple, Nook and Kobo.

In addition, this month we have increased our support for indie bookstores in the US, and now have buy buttons for no less than four Kobo-partnered independent book-sellers.

These are Flights of Fancy in Albany, New York ; Gulliver’s in Fairbanks, Alaska; Poor Richard’s in Kentucky; and Skylight in Los Angeles.

Check out today’s Ebook Bargains USA newsletter (LINK) to see some of these in action.

Obviously the buttons appearing depends on the authors concerned having books available in these stores on the day.

Unlike other promo newsletters we are not price-restricted. If you have a title free in one store, 0.99 in another, 1.99 in another, and 2.99 in yet another, you can still include all the retailers in your EBUK listing.

In the EBUK newsletter for Britain (LINK), for example – advertisers are promoting titles not just on Amazon UK and KU, Apple UK, Google Play UK, Nook UK and Kobo UK but also Waterstone’s, Hive, Txtr UK, Foyles, Blloon, OverDrive and Scribd. In addition we also carry buttons for W H Smith, Sainsbury and Blinkbox , although these stores are currently off-limits to indies.

For the Ebook Bargains Australia newsletter (LINK) listings again could include Amazon AU, Google Play AU. Kobo AU, Apple AU, Txtr AU, Angus & Robertson, Bookworld, Collins, Dymocks, QBD, Booktopia, Fishpond, Pages & Pages, Big W, JB Hi-Fi, etc. And not forgetting Scribd and OverDrive

For the Ebook Bargains Germany newsletter (LINK) authors can promote their titles not just on Kindle DE, Apple DE, Google Play DE and Kobo DE but also domestic ebook stores like Hugendubel, Thalia, Buch, Bucher, Weltbild, Der Club, Bol and Ciando, and of course not forgetting Scribd. We have yet to have any author with titles in Skoobe, but when that happens…

Sadly the most exciting prospect for indie authors – India – is as yet the one most ignored by indie authors.

Today’s Ebook Bargains India newsletter carries listings for thirteen titles but only one of those thirteen has an India listing other than Kindle India.

Partly that’s the fault of the retailers. Neither Apple nor Nook are represented on the subcontinent. Kobo has a rather pointless partnership with W H Smith India and Crossword, and if they have a ”localized” India store it’s not possible for authors elsewhere to get the links for promotion.

Google Play has an India store, but none of today’s titles are in Google Play. We carry Scribd links in the India newsletter, but by chance none of today’s titles are in Scribd. C’est la vie.

More disturbing is the fact that India’s biggest store by far, Flipkart, is easily accessible to India authors through both Smashwords and Bookbaby, yet only one of the titles listed today is in Flipkart.

Landmark have lately stopped carry ebooks, but other domestic stores like Newshunt and Rockstand are upping their game by the day. And yes, as and when authors have titles in those stores we will carry buttons for them.

Here just to remind everybody that our feedback from subscribers in the nascent markets like India is very clear. They want to see deals in the stores they shop at where they are.

For India the most requested stores are Flipkart, Rockstand and Newshunt. We carry titles in Kindle India every day, so obviously those who do shop at Amazon are happy, but those that don’t are not going to change their buying habits to suit us indies. They’ll just buy books from other authors that have made the effort to be available.

That doesn’t mean indies need to try be everywhere. That simply isn’t possible, even if it were sensible.

But it does mean that, if we want to reach a global audience – and if you don’t, you’re reading the wrong blog – we need to put ourselves in our readers’ shoes now and again, and see things from their perspective.

Here’s the thing. Readers don’t care a damn what’s convenient for us indie authors. They don’t know or care how difficult store B is to get into compared to store A. They don’t know or care that D2D is much easier to upload to than Smashwords but that D2D doesn’t get our books into Flipkart and neither get us into Google Play.

Australians who buy from Angus & Robertson, Booktopia or QBD are not going to sign up with Amazon or Kobo just because it’s so much more convenient for us indie authors. If they want to get their books from their local digital library and we aren’t in the OverDrive catalogue they’ll just read someone else’s book instead.

Likewise the 60% of German readers who do not currently get their ebooks from Kindle DE are not going to change their buying habits just to enjoy our books. They still have plenty to choose from in the Tolino Alliance stores like Hugendubel and Thalia, in the Ciando stores (Ciando has its own dedicated English-language ebook store, such is the demand for English-language books in Germany) or Txtr DE, Apple DE, Kobo DE, Google Play DE, etc.

More hassle than it’s worth? Not necessarily.

While some global stores are nigh impossible to get into, and many others are, to say the least, challenging, it’s nonetheless never been easier to get diverse  global distribution.

Smashwords will now get you into the OverDrive catalogue serving digital libraries across the world, as well as the global subscription service Scribd. Smashwords gets you into India’s Flipkart. So does Bookbaby, and Bookbaby also gets you into places Smashwords does not, like the e-Sentral stores of SE Asia.

As we wind up 2014 and head into the brave new world that is 2015 we indies really need to address the issue of diversity.

Wonderful as Amazon is, putting all your eggs in one basket is never a wise idea, and as we’ve noted on many occasions, no matter how well Amazon is doing for you in the US and UK, it is not the dominant global player outside those shores, and never will be.

Diversifying your distribution does not mean leaving Amazon. You can still reach the exact same number of readers on Amazon that you do now while also being available to readers elsewhere.

As we wind up 2014, and launch our Diversified Distribution In 2015 campaign, we’ll be looking at all the latest options open to indie authors to reach readers where the readers are, including review of which aggregators gets you where, and which do it best.

Diversified Distribution In 2015!

 Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

300+ Global Ebook Outlets? It's As Easy As One-Two-FREE!

Go Global In 2014

We all know the ebook market is going global. But for most indie authors it seems we’re still partying like it’s 2009. Many of us are still exclusive with one store, or in so few other outlets that we may as well be.

Meanwhile that international ebook market just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

So just how many global ebook stores can we indie authors get our ebooks into without taking out a second mortgage and busting a blood vessel?

How does over 300 sound?

 ~

 Amazon has eleven Kindle sites, but readers in Ireland, Belgium, Monaco, St. Marino, Switzerland, Austria and New Zealand can buy from neighbouring Kindle stores without surcharges, as can South Africans. So effectively nineteen outlets covered there.

NB In theory many other countries (by no means all – over half the world is blocked totally) can buy from AmCom, but sending readers to Amazon US only to be surcharged will reflect badly on the author, as readers won’t know that the $2+ surcharge (even on “free” ebooks!) goes to Amazon, not to you. For that reason we’re counting just the above-mentioned countries for Amazon.

f you are with Apple you can add another 51 countries to the list. Apple is the second largest ebook distributor by dedicated-country reach. Extensive coverage of North America, Latin America and Europe. Not so hot in Asia or Africa.

Nook is kind of in limbo right now. Apart from the US Barnes & Noble store and Nook UK (a reminder: it’s NOT called B&N in the UK) there are another thirty or so countries served by Nook with a Windows 8 app.

At some stage they will all become fully fledged stores, maybe, but for now, let’s discount those and just add the two key Nook stores to the list.

19 Amazon stores, 51 Apple stores and 2 Nook stores means you already have easy access to 72 global ebook stores.

If you are with Kobo then in theory you’ll be in the localized Kobo stores in US, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Africa, India, UK, Netherlands, Germany, France… You’ll be in Kobo partner stores like Bookworld, Collins, Angus & Robertson and Pages & Pages in Australia, in PaperPlus in New Zealand, in National Book Store in the Philippines, in Crossword in India, in Indigo in Canada, in Fnac in France and Portugal, in Mondadori in Italy, in Livraria Cultura in Brazil, and probably a few more that aren’t springing to mind right now.

Okay, so twenty-two more retail outlets right there, taking you up to 92.

Then there’s the Indiebound stores. Indiebound is a Kobo partner project whereby bricks and mortar indie stores have a Kobo ebook store integrated with their website. As an example, checkout Poor Richard’s in Kentucky. Or The Velveteen Rabbit Bookshop & Guest House in Wisconsin. Or Octavia Books in New Orleans.

We haven’t done a full appraisal of all of the Indiebound stores yet (soon!), but there are well over FOUR HUNDRED b&m indie bookstores selling ebooks via Kobo. Some just send you to the main Kobo store. Others have a fully integrated ebook store as part of their website.

We discount the first lot here and just include those with an integrated Kobo store. Let’s play safe and say there are, very conservatively, just 50 integrated Indiebound stores with your ebooks in (more likely well over 200!).

Suddenly we’re looking at 142 retailers with your ebooks in.

If you are in ‘txtr that’s another twenty stores right now, and with six more in Latin America about to open.

162 global retail stores.

If you are with Smashwords then as well as ‘txtr you ought to also be in Blio and Versent, and in the Indian megastore Flipkart.

Bookbaby will also get you into Blio and Flipkart, and if you are with Bookbaby you can be in eSentral. E-Sentral is based in Malaysia but also has stores in Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand and Brunei.

Bookbaby will also get you into Ciando, one of the key retail outlets in Germany. And as per this link – http://www2.ciando.com/ – the Ciando ebook store in Germany is in English!

For those who haven’t been keeping count that’s 173 global ebook retailers.

Throw in All-Romance and OmniLit, which is free-access, to make that 175.

American and British indies often don’t look beyond Smashwords and D2D, and maybe Bookbaby, totally ignoring the free-access aggregators in Europe like Xin-Xii and Narcissus. We do so at our peril.

Xin-Xii will get you into the seven key Tolino Alliance stores (Hugendubel, Weltbild, Thalia, etc) that devastated Amazon market share last year. Essential places to be if you want to make it in Germany.

But Xin-Xii will also get you into Donauland in Austria, Casa del Libro in Spain, Family Christian in the US, Otto in Germany, and Libris in the Netherlands. It will also get you in the ebook stores of the mobile phone operators O2 and Vodafone.

Lost count yet? We’re talking 189 global ebook stores already.

So let’s see if Narcissus can push us over that 200 mark. Narcissus is based in Italy, and little known outside, but it a gem of an aggregator.

Quite apart from many of the stores already covered above, Narcissus will also get you in Ultima, in LaFeltrinelli, in IBS, in Net-Ebook, in Libreria Rizzoli, in Cubolibri, in Book Republic, in Ebookizzati, in DEAStore, in Webster, in MrEbook, in Ebook.it, inLibrisalsus, in Libreria Fantasy, in The First Club, in Omnia Buk, in Il Giardino Dei Libri, in CentoAutori, in Excalibooks, in Hoepli, in San Paolo Store, in Libramente, in Ebook Gratis, in Libreria Ebook, in Byblon Store, in Libreria Pour Femme, as well as numerous specialist and academic stores. Narcissus also distribute to Nokia. Yes, as in the phone company. Ebooks are still widely read on Feature phones, and Nokia leads the way.

But just those 26 examples from Narcissus take us to 215 global ebook stores.

And then there’s Google Play. You can go direct to Google Play or free (pay as you sell) through Narcissus.

Google Play have 57 global ebook stores (and more on the way).

Which takes us up to 272 ebook stores. And counting.

On top of this we can add the ebook subscription services like Oyster (US only) and Scribd (global), accessible through Bookbaby, Smashwords and (in the case of Scribd) D2D.

Then there’s digital libraries. Even leaving aside the as yet unresolved mess that is the Smashwords-OverDrive saga, indies with Smashwords or Bookbaby may be in libraries through Baker & Taylor.

Bookbaby also distribute to the wholesale catalogues Copia and Gardners, which supply libraries and also a ton more retail stores over and above those listed above.

Throw in the Copia and Gardners outlets and we EASILY cross the 300 retailer mark.

Remember, ALL these are accessible free of charge (you pay a percentage per sale).

There are other options, like Vook. IngramSpark and Ebook Partnership, which would substantially add to this list, but these options either have up-front costs or offer a very poor percentage return for free-access.

But worth noting that players like Ebook Partnership can get you not just into the OverDrive catalogue, which means an appearance in key stores like Books-A-Million, Waterstone’s, Infibeam, Kalahari and Exclus1ves, as well as the myriad OverDrive library partners, but also other key up and coming outlets like Magzter, like Bookmate in Russia, and so on and so on.

 ~

 The global ebook market is growing by the day. There are huge new markets opening up in Latin America, in India, in China, and across SE Asia right now that most indies are not a part of.

In the near future Africa will take a big leap forward as retailers make ebooks accessible to the hundreds of millions of Africans currently locked out of our cozy ebook world.

Make no mistake. The global ebook market will dwarf the US ebook market many, many, many times over as it gains momentum.

No, there won’t be many overnight successes, yes it will take time, and yes it will require a good few hours of effort to make sure you are in all these stores in the first place.

Sorry. There are no magic wands to wave. No just-add-water instant solutions.

No pain, no gain.

But you only have to upload to these stores once, and a handful of aggregators can do most of them for you in a couple of rounds, planting the seeds for future harvests. Then you just need to pop back now and again to tend the garden. It’s a one-off effort now that will pay back over a life-time as these global markets take off.

That list of 300+ stores above is just going to grow and grow and GROW as market fragmentation and international expansion gather momentum. The global ebook market has barely left the starting line!

The savvy indie author thinks about the next five years, not the next five days. Don’t get lost in the minutiae of your every-day ebook life and miss the bigger picture here.

Because we are all privileged to be part of something that is way, way bigger than just selling our books. We are witnessing – participating in – the early stages of a New Renaissance quite unparalleled in human history.

A New Renaissance on a global scale that will not just make accessible existing art forms to every single person on the planet, but will create new art forms as yet unknown, but in which we can be sure writers will play a key role.

Be part of it.

Nook UK – New E-reader. New Readers?

Go Global In 2014

Nook have just launched their GlowLight ereader in the UK. (link) A reminder that it’s business as usual for Nook even though they are due to be spun off from the B&N mother ship next year.

Will it help you get sales on Nook UK?

Yes, if you play your cards right.

Nook is still a low profile name in Britain. Nook devices are sold primarily by just two stores – John Lewis and Argos. They are available elsewhere, but as just one more device on the shelf, amid far better known brands.

The problems for Nook outside the US are two-fold. Brand recognition and late arrival.

Barnes & Noble is an unknown quantity outside the States unless you are an indie author or a regular trans-Atlantic traveller. So much so that you will be hard-pressed to even find the B&N name on the Nook UK website.

Bear that in mind when promoting. Readers have no idea what B&N is over here even though they may have a Nook ereader or tablet, or being using the Nook app. To promote to the UK and European / Australian markets don’t say B&N, say Nook UK, Nook Australia, Nook Lithuania or whatever.

But the bigger problem for Nook is late arrival. By the time Nook got to the UK the market had already been carved up by Amazon, Apple and Kobo, with a handful of domestic players joining the fray.

That’s not so say the stranglehold cannot be broken. Both Sainsbury and Tesco Blinkbox have shown it can be, very effectively, but they come at the problem from a totally different direction.

Even Google Play, with brand recognition to die for, is struggling to get a foothold in the UK, and for an unknown name like Nook it was far too little, far too late.

For Nook’s international expansion, the same applies only moreso.

That’s not to say you should write off Nook UK or Nook International as a dead loss. Far from it. It could and should be providing you with a small but lucrative stream of extra income. If it’s not, take another look at your marketing.

The Nook UK site is great. Unlike B&N it isn’t trying to sell you other products – not even print books – which means it has a clean, crisp reader interface and is not throwing smartphones, diapers or dog food in your face.

More interestingly, Nook UK is VERY often cheaper than Amazon UK.

Often, but not always. And sometimes promotions on Nook US do not carry over in timely fashion, so your 0.99 special in the US might still be showing it’s original price in the UK. And very occasionally a listing on Nook US doesn’t appear on Nook UK at all. From what I can see this tends to happen when using an aggregator.

For those who can, NookPress gives you far more control over pricing and promotion than going through an aggregator. Not least being able to set separate US, UK and Europe prices.

It’s not entirely clear what Nook is doing with its international expansion right now. At one point (late 2013) Nook was making titles available in over thirty countries, but only with a Windows 8 app.

But the NookPress dashboard now gives you the option to set a European price for France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands, with the caveat that due to high volume of content it may take time for (indie) titles to filter through.

Until Nook is formally separated from B&N it’s unlikely we’ll see much more action than what’s already underway.

The big question is who will buy out Nook next year. Microsoft seems to be favourite right now, but not by much. Samsung have abandoned their ebook project, so we can rule them out.

Three outsiders to keep an eye on are Wal-Mart, Tesco Blinkbox and Alibaba. Any of them could afford Nook out of loose change. All have an interest in digital media and in getting one up on Amazon. What better way to do that than to buy out one of the key rivals to the Kindle store and plough serious money into it to make it a serious player?

The AIS blogs delight in telling us how badly Nook is doing, but Nook has significant market share in the US and a very valuable customer data base. Whoever takes on Nook is going to have something very nice to build on if they plan on competing. And all three of those outsiders mentioned – Wal-Mart, Tesco and Alibaba – have far deeper pockets than Amazon.

Ebook Bargains UK.

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

What Are The Top Five Countries For Romance Ebook Sales?

GoGlobalIn2014_500

We all know romance is a very, very popular genre and many ebooks authors are doing exceptionally well, but we also know most only focus their attention on two countries – the US and UK – and of course therefore only see results from two countries.

We’ve been arguing a long time now that the global market is worth the effort, but very few indies are taking this seriously. We ran a post here back in February stressing the significance of the Indian market for romance writers. Again, it fell on largely deaf ears.

This week there emerged some new data that shows how wrong you are to be ignoring the wider world.

What are the top five countries for romance ebooks? Obviously the US and UK take poll positions.

But in third, fourth and fifth place in order are…drum roll please…India, Australia and South Africa.

And the stores are worth looking at. Obviously it goes without saying Amazon is top, and Apple and Nook close behind. But this report from Epub Direct also cites the following stores as performing well with romance titles.

Quote:

Other sales channels that are quite virile are ebooks.com, Flipkart, Kobo, Sainsbury, Txtr, Asia Books, Fishpond and Libri.

Unquote.

For the UK, read W H Smith for Kobo, and for Australia Angus & Robertson and Bookworld.

Ebooks.com is an Australian store (the oldest ebook store still going in fact!) that sells in US dollars. Supplied via Ingram.

Sainsbury is off limits to indies, but make no mistake Sainsbury (and lately Tesco – too early for any stats for Blinkbox) are doing very well.

Txtr gets a mention. Remember Txtr has twenty global stores, and you can be sure most of Txtr’s sales are not coming from the Txtr US and Txtr UK sites… Txtr are not in India, which means Txtr sales will be coming from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and mainland Europe. If you are with Smashwords or Ebook Partnership you will be in the Txtr stores.

Flipkart is well up there, of course. See our Valentine’s post to understand why Indians love western romances.

Then there’s small players like Libri, Asia Books and Fishpond that indies just love to write off as a waste of time.

Of course Epub Direct, who compiled this report, supply a ton of other retailers too. In fact they have the best reach of any distributor, including getting titles into the key UK stores WH Smith, Sainsbury and Tesco Blinkbox, all off limits to indies.

No, Epub Direct don’t deal with indies (logistical, not philosophical – they are not anti-indie, just not set up to cater for individuals) but what they don’t know about ebook distribution and selling probably isn’t worth knowing.

If you are with a publisher make sure they know about Epub Direct and (if they are big enough) demand they sign up. For the rest of us… Well, for now they are off limits, but we’re hoping someone from Epub Direct will come and share with us their thoughts on how things migt pan out in the future.

Meanwhile, a few other key points from this report:

Subscription services are performing well for romance. Ditto for libraries except for erotica, where many libraries filter titles or – as with OverDrive and Smashwords – simply don’t want to know.

Romance titles see less blockbusters so the market is far more evenly spread and self-pubbers have a better chance of getting in. Look at any best-seller chart where indies are to see this is true.

Romance titles do well in series and are less affected by seasonal buying, so a good year round bet.

Nor is it just India. Michael Tamblyn, Kobo’s president said this week “For e-book retailers like us, it has helped Romance become a huge part of our business.” As we all know, Kobo is not amajor player in the US, so these sales are coming from elsewhere.

But to finish this post a reminder- India is the third biggest market for English language romance titles according to one of the world’s biggest ebook distributors. And no, you don’t need to write about Indian characters in Indian settings to appeal to Indian readers, as we said in the EBUK post in February, and as the new Epub Direct report shows.

 

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

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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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.

bexarlibrary

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.

wattpadlogo

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.

0_0_450_0_70_http---i.haymarket.net.au-News-dymocks-iconia

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.

magyar telekom

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.

txtr_cloud

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.

yota-lead-630

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.

lafeltrinelli

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.

 

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Which Country Has The Most Ebook Stores?

 
Which country has the most ebook stores?
 
The answer may surprise you. It’s Poland.
 
Outrageous, or what?! Poland hasn’t even got a Kindle store. How do they know ebooks exist?
 
Yeah, it’s a funny old world.
 
In fact Poland has been selling ebooks since 2004, three years before the first Kindle was launched, and five years before KDP appeared on the scene, and now has an ebook store on every street corner. Well, not quite, but how does twenty-five “local” ebook retailers grab you?
 
That’s in addition to the international players like Apple, Google Play and ‘txtr that have also set up shop there.

And then of course there are the  big international stores like Amazon and Kobo that Poles can buy from via their central sites, and the small international stores like Smashwords, Diesel, All-Romance/OmniLit, Blio, etc, that Poles can also buy ebooks from.
 
We’ll come back to Poland in another post, as there is much we can learn from them. But most of the Polish ebook outlets are local-language only, or at least only accessible by local-language portals, so not of great interest to us right now.

~

 
So which English-language country has the most ebook stores?
 
Before you read on, have a quick count-up and make an educated guess.
 
No, it’s not the USA (unless you count the many indie book stores with ebook sites through Kobo and IndieBound).
 
It’s Australia.

 
Yep, Down Under are way up top when it comes to places to buy ebooks from.

But how many Australian ebook stores are you in? How many can you even name?

Try these:

  • Amazon Australia
  •  
  • Apple Australia
  •  
  • Kobo Australia 
  •  
  • Google Play Australia
  •  
  • ‘txtr Australia
  •  
  • Sony Reader Store Australia
  •  
  • Nook Australia
  •  
  • Angus & Robertson
  •  
  • Bookworld
  •  
  • Collins
  •  
  • Australian Publishers Association
  •  
  • Booktopia
  •  
  • Dymocks
  •  
  • QBD
  •  
  • JB Hi-Fi
  •  
  • Big W
  •  
  • Fishpond Australia
  •  
  • Pages & Pages

 
To which we can add the smaller international-access stores like:

  • Smashwords
  •  
  • All Romance / OmniLit
  • Blio
  •  
  • Versent
  •  
  • Ebooks Com
  •  
  • Scribd
  •  
  • Diesel

 
And no doubt a good many more we’ve overlooked.
 
There are also a number of other small indie bookstores in Australia experimenting with. or with plans for. ebook stores. Some, like Big W and JB Hi-Fi, have no prior association with books, but have opened an ebook store anyway. Expect many more bandwagon-jumpers like these to set up ebook shop in Australia (and worldwide) over the next year or two.
 
But just in that list above Australians have a choice of some twenty-five or so retail outlets to buy their ebooks from.
 
Why so many? Geography plays a key role here. In a land as vast and empty as Australia book stores are few and far between, and if you live outside the big cities even fewer and even farther. For print books distribution was (and currently is, but that will change – see our forthcoming post on why POD is going to grow in importance) a logistical nightmare, severely limiting what books Australians could choose from.
 
No surprise then that when Amazon came along, distributing print books far and wide by kangaroo mail, Australians were quick to spot the opportunity to have, after a short wait for delivery, access to far more print books than any local bookstore could offer.
 
And no surprise either that when the Kindle appeared on the scene Australians were especially keen to get them, given they (unlike most of the world) could buy ebooks direct from Amazon US without surcharges. 


Amazon Up Top Down Under – But For How Long?

Back in 2009 there were very few rival devices about, and even less that were affordable, so the Kindle got off to a flying start. Just like in the US and the UK, Amazon snatched about 90% of the ebook market.
 
Which of course put Amazon in an unassailable position, so indies don’t need to bother about being in the Johnny-come-lately club, right?
 
If only…
 
What’s important to understand is that, as the new Kindle Australia site finally went live last month (Nov 2013 for anyone reading this long after it was posted), Amazon’s market share is estimated at between 60%-70%, which means that as many as four out of ten readers may be buying elsewhere.
 
Admittedly those four out of ten are spread over a fair number of outlets, as per the list above. And yes, we know what you’re thinking. All that extra hassle just to get four sales?  You’ve got more important things to do.
 
But try thinking of it as forty sales out of every hundred. Or four hundred out of every thousand. And for the big hitters, four thousand out of every ten thousand.
 
Exactly. You cannot afford to ignore the smaller stores as we move to the second stage of the digital transition. We’ll discuss just what the “second stage” involves in another post, but for now just be assured the second stage means more ebooks being bought from more ebook stores than you can even conceive of right now.
 
Let’s be clear. We’re not saying Amazon sales will decrease. Just the opposite! But even as the volume of Amazon ebook sales increases so their market share will fall further over the coming years. 
 
Why? Because of market fragmentation, glocalization and the proliferation of smaller ebook stores.

And remember, this is a global phenomena, not just Australia. It’s already happening in the US, and it’s about to happen in the UK.
 
More on that in another post. But for now, back to Australia.

Amazon Australia
 

The Amazon Kindle Australia store is of course a welcome new addition to the Amazon camp, but it is a new addition in name only. In reality Amazon Kindle Australia is just an Amazon Dot Com sub-domain site, and brings little new to the table. And what is new may not be that welcome.

Local authors can load up to KDP direct and get paid direct, and local readers can now see the prices and pay in Australian dollars, but for authors it doesn’t open up any new markets as Australians were already able to buy from Amazon US without being surcharged.
 
And as with Amazon Canada, this late arrival in a market where, paradoxically, it was doing well,actually hinders as much as it helps. Indie titles appearing in the new Amazon AU store kick off with no ranking and no reviews, and of course it is another site to promote, for those OCD types among you who can’t go an hour without tweeting your title, and another web address to add to your promo page.
 
At this stage Amazon Australia pricing also seems pretty erratic, but teething problems are to be expected.

That said, we are hearing disturbing reports from authors in both Australia and New Zealand that these may not be teething problems, but part of Amazon policy. It would seem New Zealanders have been told they are now Australians so far as Amazon is concerned, and both Australians and New Zealanders are being charged significantly more than the US$ list prices for ebooks – prices that bear little relationship to the currency exchange rates. More on this in a forthcoming post when we have further clarification.
 
Meanwhile, for those of you who pay attention to fine detail and like to run a tight ship, it’s worth checking into your KDP account and setting the Australian list price to a fixed sum – ie 0.99 or 3.00 or whatever, otherwise you’ll end up with those horrendous “just over” prices like $1.03 and $3.07, because Amazon will by default set your Australia price based on the exchange rate for the US dollar.
 
And by the way the same goes for all the other satellite sites. Prices like 167.83 rupees on Amazon India don’t just look unprofessional – they will likely put off potential buyers. More on international pricing in a forthcoming post.

~

 
So, thanks to their head start Amazon held around 90% of market share for ebooks in Australia, just as it did in the USA and UK. Best estimates now are that it’s nearer 60%-65%, and as the competition gets serious we can expect that probably to level off at around forty percent in the coming few years. The biggest still – it’s hard to imagine Amazon being dethroned soon in this particular market – but nowhere near a monopoly.

And the runners-up are…

Thanks to its partnership with a number of Australian retail stores and chains Kobo is likely to be a big contender for second place over the next year or two, although it’s generally agreed Apple Australia has that honour at the moment.

With over fifty international ebook stores Apple is an essential place to be seen. Given Apple have over 200 iTunes stores worldwide it’s just a matter of time before they roll out more iBooks stores alongside. Though a note of caution there – it seems many Apple iBooks store, such as Apple Malaysia, only stock public domain titles.

~
So, back to Australia, and the other big player, Kobo.

Kobo has a “glocalized” Kobo Australia store, but unless you are in Australia you probably won’t be able to access it easily, and to be honest most Australians don’t know it exists, even if they use Kobo devices.

The reason being any Australia Kobo users will likely as not be buying their ebooks from either Angus & Robertson, Bookworld or Collins, which are the three key Kobo partner stores, each with their own fully-fledged ebook stores.

Those of you in Kobo will find many of your titles in these stores. If you are in Angus & Robertson you can be pretty sure you are also in Bookworld at the same price. Collins is a bit more hit and miss.
If you are with Kobo and not showing in any of these three stores then you need to get on to both Kobo and the individual stores. The stores will tell you it’s Kobo’s problem and hat Kobo haven’t sent them the titles in question. Kobo will tell you they send everything but the ebook stores pick and choose what they stock. But amid the mutual blame what usually happens is the missing titles miraculously appear.
Another, much smaller Kobo partner store is Pages & Pages, which is an indie book store with a link to Kobo Australia. Pages & Pages have only just partnered with Kobo, and at this stage do not have an online store of their own, but send buyers to the Kobo Australia site direct. That may change. We’re waiting to hear back from them on their plans. But if you are with Kobo then Pages & Pages customers will be able to buy your books.

Pages & Pages certainly won’t make you rich, but don’t go thinking they aren’t worth the effort. Micro-stores like these should be acknowledged and encouraged by indie authors, not dismissed as irrelevant. They have small but loyal customer bases. Readers, to you and me.

And not just any readers. These are readers who have kept these indie bookstores in business until now, rather than buying at lower prices from Amazon or a local chain store, and they are unlikely to suddenly start buying their ebooks elsewhere.

The Pages & Pages team are fiercely patriotic and miss no opportunity to tell Australians how buying from Amazon sends money out of the country, creates no local jobs, etc. For some while now Pages & Pages has been running a Kindle Amnesty programme, offering cash in return for Kindles being handed in and exchanged for Kobo devices.

It’s not known how many (if indeed any) might have taken up this offer. The wider world has cottoned on to the story in the past week or so as if it is something new, but those with good memories will know we mentioned this a month or two back, and the Amnesty has been going on since April 2013.

Other ebook stores, while not quite so open in their dislike of the mighty Zon, also loudly trumpet their Australian credentials. Angus & Robertson declares itself “Proudly Australian”. Booktopia claims to be “Australia’s local bookstore” and reminds us all it is “Australian owned and operated”, while QBD is “Aussi owned and operated”. And so so and so on.

Don’t underestimate the power of patriotism to influence buying patterns overseas as the digital market expands. Look on Australia as a barometer indicating the way the wind is blowing for the rest of the world.

Outsiders On the Inside
Of course Amazon is not the only international player targeting the Australian ebook market.  Google Play and ‘txtr both have dedicated Australian ebook stores, as does Sony and Nook.

As we’ve said before, Google Play and ‘txtr are ones to watch. Google Play has 44 stores worldwide, ‘txtr 17.  Neither are making a huge impact in Australia (or anywhere else) right now, but don’t let that lull you into complacency about the future.

Google Play has a self-pub option in the loosest sense of the word. Expect a proper self-pub portal in 2014.
‘Txtr have a pending upload agreement with Smashwords (not yet official), Meanwhile you can get into the ‘txtr stores, including ‘txtr Australia, through an aggregator that deals with the wholesaler catalogues. Likewise Sony. Smashwords gets you into Sony US and Sony Canada but not the other Sony five stores (Australia, Austria, Germany, Japan and UK).
Unless you live there you’ll probably have difficulty accessing Google Play Australia, due to stringent territorial controls, but ‘txtr Australia and the Australian Sony Reader Store are easily viewed, easily signed up to, and well worth being in.

Nook Australia? As we’ve reported previously, Nook had an international expansion programme on the cards and, probably alone among the industry commentators, we’ve been upbeat about it actually happening. Last month Nook finally rolled out across much of Europe and also Australia (32 countries is their claim), with a restricted platform (Windows 8 app required) ebook offering.

You can get the Windows 8 app for Nook at the Nook Australia site – http://www.nook.com/au/windows. Yeah, read that bit again: the Nook Australia site.

Okay, it’s not quite as grand as it sounds, but it’s early days. We’ll be reporting in full on the Nook expansion in the New Year. Just remember not to take too seriously the doom and gloom mongers who have been gleefully predicting B&N’s and Nook’s demise.

We leave the subject of Nook for now with this from Softonic:

NOOK for Windows 8 blows Kindle for Windows 8 out of the water. Barnes & Noble has done an excellent job of creating NOOK for Windows 8 and definitely ramps up the competition between it and Amazon.”

Bear that in mind next time you read an industry piece saying Nook is the walking dead.

Another small international player is Ebooks Dot Com, which prices in US dollars and sells around the world, but is actually an Australian company, and one of (if not the) oldest ebook stores still in existence. Ebooks Dot Com actually started selling ebooks last century! Not a big player, but another option for readers. Not many indie titles there, but those that are get in through Ingram.

~
Meanwhile, back to the many smaller local Australian ebook retailers you simply cannot afford to ignore.

Take QBD – Queensland Book Depot if you must know. With fifty or so bricks and mortar stores across Australia they are no outback bookshop.

Accessible for indies? Absolutely. QBD ebooks are supplied by the wholesaler Copia. So are Dymocks. We mentioned Ingram above. Ingram also supply Booktopia.

Being in the wholesaler catalogues (Ingram, Gardners, Copia, OverDrive, Baker & Taylor, etc) is ESSENTIAL if you want to reach the international markets in any serious way, and that includes Australia. Taking just a few more from the list at the top of this article – Fishpond, Big W, JB Hi-Fi, etc, are all accessible to indie authors if they are in the wholesaler catalogues.

They can even get you into stores which at first glance seem distinctly indie-unfriendly. Take the Australian Publishers Association, for example. Obviously that’d exclusively for Australian Publishers, right?

Well, that may have been its original intention, but their ebook store is fed by Copia, and that means indies who have made the effort to be in the Copia catalogue may well be in the APA store.

No, you probably won’t see many sales each month from the APA, or QBD, or Dymocks, but that’s not the point. We are just at the beginning of an incredibly exciting journey into global ebook sales, and these  stores are just the tip of the iceberg.

Copia, along with Ingram, OverDrive, Page Foundry and other companies far too many to mention, are offering so-called White Label solutions. Put simply, they provide a ready-made ebook-store filled to the rafters with big name ebooks from big publishers. You just sign up and slap your company logo on the front of the box then sit back and watch the money roll in.

It means that pretty much anyone anywhere with the inclination and some web space can set up an ebook store of their own, filled with anything from tens of thousands to literally millions of ebooks, all being sold under their own brand label.

Check out Big W or JB Hi-Fi in the Australian list above – fine examples of White Label stores, and also fine examples of how retailers with no previous connection with books are getting in on the act. Expect lots more of the same.

And in case you need reminding, yes, there are indie titles in them. But only indies who are in the wholesaler catalogues. The wholesaler catalogues don’t have self-pub portals as such, although individuals can set up accounts. But the ideal is to have one or two aggregators who do have accounts with them and do all this work for you, leaving you to write your next book.

At the moment Smashwords only gets you into Baker & Taylor, and D2D into none, but there are other aggregators about, and more will soon appear. 

The British aggregator Ebook Partnership has an excellent track record and can get you into all they key wholesaler catalogues. That’s a pay up front option, but you get 100% of net royalties. 

Untreed Reads also has a good range of outlets, and offers a pay-as-you-earn option, similar to Smashwords.

Bookbaby
 has just this month started a new “free” distribution option (like Smashwords and Untreed Reads it’s not actually free – they will take a percentage from your sales revenue). Bookbaby doesn’t get you in all the key wholesaler catalogues but does get you into Copia and Gardners, and also Scribd and eSentral. Well worth checking out.

We’ll be looking in depth at both aggregators and the wholesaler catalogues in the New Year.

Aggregators should be your best friends. Don’t underestimate what they can do for you, now and in the future. They can get you access not only to stores you never knew existed, but into stores that don’t yet exist.  A presence in hundreds – soon  thousands – of ebook stores around the globe.

If you’re thinking all these micro-outlets aren’t worth bothering with, think again. A sale is a sale. When your Amazon or Apple Australia reader likes your book and tells their friend who has an epub ereader and an account at Big W, or only ever shops at QBD, or is a loyal customer at Booktopia, you may just have made another sale.

More importantly, when that Amazon or Apple customer tells that friend and said friend with the epub ereader goes to their preferred ebook store and you’re not there, you’ve probably just LOST a sale.

Quite aside from which, as we’ll explain in a forthcoming post, “glocalization” and market fragmentation mean these myriad small and micro-stores are going to collectively be very important players. And because they will be supplied by the wholesaler catalogues it means the said wholesaler catalogues are about to become far more important than you would ever imagine.

As we’ll be explaining in a forthcoming post, the wholesaler catalogues have reach way beyond anything Amazon, Apple, Kobo or Google Play can match. Put simply, the wholesaler catalogues are the new black.

As we hurtle into 2014, and the international ebook market grows ever bigger, ever faster, how many ebook stores will you be in?

Don’t get left behind.

Go Global In 2014.