Category Archives: India ebooks

WorldReader and the Global New Renaissance

“Shivana and Rumana are teenage sisters from Delhi, India who use the Read to Kids app on their mobile phone to read stories to children in their community. Every afternoon, 8-15 children from the neighbourhood are invited to the sisters’ home for their reading sessions.

By reading to the children and getting the parents involved, the sisters are helping the children improve in school.”

That’s from the WorldReader Annual Report summary.

Those of you living in the rich First World where access to education and books are taken for granted cannot begin to understand how truly life-changing smartphones and the internet are for the rest of the world where access to books has been an unaffordable luxury for all but the lucky few.

Little children like these, that even five years ago had almost zero chance of ever seeing a book, are now discovering and enjoying the delights of reading.

Here’s two more impact stories from the WorldReader annual report.

I’ve been teaching English at Magoso Primary for 5 months now. Teaching is something that I’ve always known I wanted to do.

When I joined the school, no one would use the school library. When the e-readers came in, everyone wanted to use them so more children started coming to the library. Now every evening the library in the school is full. That makes me feel like I have done something, however small. I go to bed with a smile on my face.”

Emma
Kibera, Kenya

My town, Naivasha, has one of the biggest prisons in the country – Naivasha Maximum Prison – which has an education centre with over 1,500 inmates undergoing primary and secondary school education. Last week, we visited the prison with the e-readers and trained over 100 inmates and prison officers. That day, they begged us not to leave so they could read more! I have always wanted to be an instrument of change and I am glad to be serving my community as a librarian.

Richard
Nakuru, Kenya”

We are witnesses to, and as content-providers participants in, an event quite unprecedented in human history.

The Global New Renaissance.

Happening right now on a planet near you.

Wattpad’s Global Data Mine

wattpad-global

Are you making the best of Wattpad’s data tools?

Wattpad is, increasingly, a valuable tool to get actual sales, and I’ll be looking at some of Wattpad’s new sales-orientated features over coming weeks.

But for me Wattpad is most valuable for its global reach and its data.

Take the image above. Obviously this is an inert screenshot, but the original in my Wattpad data dashboard is interactive and a click on each of the highlighted countries will tell me what percentage of my readers are coming from each country.

Wattpad will also break down my readers by gender and by age group, and a lot more besides.

  • This map shows me that for this particular title some 25% of my Wattpad readership is in the US. More than I would have expected, but then this is an English-language title.
  • The UK accounts for 11% and Canada and Australia account for 3% each.

But what matters to me with Wattpad is reaching the rest of the world and, again bearing in mind this is an English-language title, the stats are both revealing and occasionally surprising.

  • In Europe I’m finding readers in Germany and Austria. Surprisingly no traction yet elsewhere in Europe.
  • 10% of my Wattpad readers for this title are in India. That’s very useful to know as I really hadn’t considered India a likely market for this particular book. And 2% in neighbouring Pakistan and 1.5% in Sri Lanka.

But then come the real surprises.

Continue reading

Google Loon Coming to India, Spotlight Falls on Poland, and more.

Loon

 

Google Loon For India.

It’s early days yet, but it looks likely India will join Sri Lanka and Indonesia in being among the first countries to have nationwide internet access courtesy of Google Loon.

Loon is a balloon project whereby unmanned balloons fly at high altitude reflecting and beaming down internet signals to places that would otherwise be uneconomical to reach.

Google is currently partnering with telcos on the ground (literally in this case) to move to the next stage.

Long term everyone benefits from these social infrastructure ventures being undertaken by companies like Google and Facebook (think Aquila drones), that will make the internet even more accessible.

Loon and Aquila are of course driven by mobile. Global mobile. Globile.

And with each new advance the potential audience for content suppliers grows ever bigger.

This post was previously published in the International Indie Author Facebook Group on 08 March 2016.  (LINK

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Spotlight On Poland 2016-17.

Poland will be in this spotlight this year and next, with several major book fairs showcasing the Polish book market.

Publishing Perspectives covers this in a post by Porter Anderson, where I noted in comments,

“Poland is a particularly interesting market for ebooks because Amazon has no Kindle store there and is therefore busily surcharging Polish readers for Kindle books unless they have pre-existing accounts from a Kindle country.

A lot of Poles have bought Kindles and have accounts set up whilst in Germany or UK, etc, which enables them to buy from the UK or Germany Kindle store without whispernet surcharges, but of course there is very little Polish content being made available in the Kindle store in the first place.

Many domestic Polish ebook publishers have taken full advantage of this by supplying ebooks in mobi format as well as epub.”

We indies tend to assume it has been the USA that has made all the running in the ebook sector, and of course by market size that’s true, but Poland was fielding ebook subscription services long before Scribd, Oyster and Amazon got in on the act.

Check out Legimi (one of the first Polish subscription services, way back in 2013) for one of many Polish outlets where we can sell our Polish translations, should we ever have them available.

Of course we all know that’s a waste of time because we all know central and east Europeans wouldn’t want to read our stories set in America and Britain.

That’s why there’s no sign in the Legimi store of Lee Child or Karin Slaughter or EL James or Andy Weir or… No, hold on. They are all there.

It’s just as indies that can’t be bothered.

Our loss.

Admittedly none of my titles are in Legimi right now either, but that’s just a matter of time. My first Polish translations will be going live in the next few months.

How about you?

This post was previously published in the International Indie Author Facebook Group on 07 March 2016. (LINK

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Augmented Reality Books Are Coming. No, Not Ebooks. Print Books!

Yep, Google has just patented the tech to create digitally-enhanced print books. You couldn’t make it up.

“The technology outfits a physical book with numerous page sensors, touch sensors, and motion sensors to understand the reader’s movements. Based on those movements and the storyline of the book, the system adds augmented reality elements over the pages.”

My guess this will in turn embrace hologram tech and provide, in time, a 3D augmented reality experience.

For children’s books, fantasy and sci-fi and for non-fic like how to and cookery this could be major step forward and show once more that print is far from dead and can be reinvented just like the story-telling process.

This a post was previously published in the International Indie Author Facebook Group on 05 March 2016.  (LINK

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Facebook Messenger Integrates With Spotify.

We can ignore them all we like, but messaging apps aren’t going to go away.

Facebook Messenger has now integrated with Spotify in an attempt to attract its NEXT billion monthly active users.

Yes, Facebook Messenger already has a billion monthly active users we could be connecting with to promote our books.

WhatsApp has 800 million, WeChat 600 million, Telegram 100 million and growing fast.

There are lots more.

As with Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc, a handful of savvy indies are shifting million of books (search the Group for posts on this) while the majority of us carry on partying like it’s 2010 and dismiss any suggestion that The Next Generation social media platforms might be worth a second look.

Our loss.

This a post was previously published in the International Indie Author Facebook Group on 04 March 2016.  (LINK

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The International Indie Author

Looking at the bigger picture.

Going Globile: India – Momentum Builds, Despite The Indifference Of The Western Retailers.

For those looking at the bigger picture, Publishing Perspectives this week (LINK), in the wake of the New Delhi Book Fair, runs a post on India reporting on the success of local authors writing in local languages.
 
As I’ve long been saying, the rise of globile (global mobile) means previously disenfranchised readers across the globe are for the first time being given the opportunity to read, listen and watch books, audio-books, video, etc, that were previously off-limits to them due to the restrictions (accessibility and affordability) of analogue content.
 
As the Publishing Perspectives posts notes, in India there are 22 official languages and over 100 more major spoken languages in dozens of communities from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. ”The emergence of smartphones and tablets — enabling so-called “mobile reading” — promises to make India a nation of translations.”
 
The post reports Prashasti Rastogi, director, German Book Office in New Delhi as saying, “Lately in India, there’s a huge concentration in publishing on Indian languages. Technology is deep-seated in the market, and we’ve seen the rise of reading apps which cater to Indian languages.”
 
Rastogi adds, “…hordes of people flock to book fairs in Patna or Kolkata to look for books in Hindi or Bengali.”
 
Print books that is. A reminder that we indies venturing into the India market should not ignore print.
 
Ebooks? If only.
 
But the simple fact is local-language Indian ebooks are not taking off in a big way because of retailer indifference.
Take Amazon, for example. With a whole 100 Hindi ebooks available in the Kindle IN store and zero titles on other Indian languages that’s hardly an incentive for publishers to start getting their local-language titles into mobi format.
 
But there’s always Apple and Kobo, right?
 
Sadly, no. There is no IBooks IN store, and Kobo treats India as an afterthought. Kobo has a disappointing partnership store with Crossword and the Kobo international store is available, but there is no localized Kobo India store and like Amazon, Kobo doesn’t want to know about local-language ebooks.
 
Having just absorbed Flipkart’s customers, that’s tragic. Kobo, wake up and smell the coffee!
 
There are two key local-language players in India right now – Dailyhunt and Rockstand.
 
Both are doing rather well, not least because they not only offer local-language titles, But also because they offer local-payment options too – another big fail for the western retailers in a land where only a tiny fraction of its people have bank cards.
 
Both Rockstand and Dailyhunt are in theory accessible to authors outside the country, but the hoops you need to jump through to go direct are not going to have western indie authors queuing up to clamber aboard.
 
Late last year the Hungarian aggregator PublishDrive signed a distribution deal with Rockstand, but that aside the big western aggregators, like the western retailers, seem determined to stick to the easy option English-language market in India.
 
“Languages (other than English) are really thriving, and in fact, there is an increased readership that we see in a lot of local languages,” says Meera Johri, head of an Indian publisher of Hindi classics.
 
In the tagged Publishing Perspectives post Jori adds, “There is a renewed interest in buying Hindi books and reading Hindi books. (Indian languages like) Marathi has always been very vibrant. Malayalam and Bangla, too… One reason is that these languages have a very strong culture of reading.”
 
Getting my titles translated into multiple Indian languages in multiple formats – ebook, print and audio – is a priority for me this year as the Indian book market – already the sixth largest in the world – transforms into a dual analogue-digital market.
 
The opportunities in India right now, for those playing the long game, are hard to exaggerate.
 
Stake you claim now for the India goldrush to come.
 
Think about the next five years, not the next five weeks.
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For daily news and discussion about the global indie publishing scene join this lively Facebook Group.

 

The Globile Future For Indie Authors Starts Here

globile

It’s almost time to say goodbye to 2015 and start the countdown to the end of this decade.

It may be 2016 in a week or so, but 2020 is just around the corner, and if we are serious about our writing careers we need to be thinking about where we will be in 2020, as the era of 5G and the Internet of Things becomes a reality. A global reality.

Personally I’ve got no time for crazy notions like New Year resolutions and Predictions of Things to Come.

If something is worth doing it’s worth doing now. No need to wait for a New Year to arrive to take the plunge.

As for predictions… The future’s not ours to see, but we can anticipate and prepare for the future by simply looking at the trends happening now.

When the latest Author Earnings report talked about the size of the US ebook market compared to the rest of the world it was pretty much spot on.

The US is by far the biggest ebook market by revenue and pretty much the largest by volume.

But a snapshot of how things are today is no guide to how things might be even next year, let alone in 2020.

2020 is going to be as different from 2015 as 2015 is from 2009 when the self-publishing “revolution” began.

E-readers – and specifically the Kindle – changed the ways Americans read. No question. But globile – that is, global mobile – has changed the way the world reads, and not just reads, but consumes TV, film music, radio, games, audio… you name it.

The Global New Renaissance that sounded so fantastical when I first started talking about it back in 2011, is now a reality.

We have unparalleled reach, not just as authors, but as content-providers across media, that was quite inconceivable even ten years ago, and pretty improbable just five years ago.

So bear with me today as I present some recent news stories that demonstrate just how much and how fast the world is changing, offering us unprecedented opportunities in 2016 and beyond.

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Bricks & Mortar Bookstores Sales Rose 6.9% in October.

It’s a strange old world.

More than five years after the ebook pioneers declared print to be redundant and the Borders closure to be conclusive proof that bookstores were dead in the water, print adamantly refuses to tow the line.

In October print sales in bricks and mortar stores across the US inconsiderately rose 6.9% compared to October 2014, following an equally inconsiderate year on year rise of 6.7% in September.

Given the time of year it’s beyond improbable that we are going to see any change to that pattern for November and December.

Which begs the question, what is happening out there?

It’s a fact that the biggest rise in ebook sales, seemingly at the expense of print, came in the era of dedicated e-reading devices.

E-readers are still available, and far cheaper than before, and so now are gazillions of smartphones, meaning people have a means to read ebooks whether they have an e-reader or not.

Ebooks are (mostly) cheap, there are literally millions to choose from, and there are any number of subscription services where you can read for next to nothing, and God knows how many free ebooks available such that we need never pay to read a book ever again.

We ought to be shifting tons more ebooks and seeing print spiral into oblivion.

But it just ain’t happening.

That’s not to say ebooks are fading away. Ebooks are here to stay. But for the foreseeable future so is print.

And as we hurtle into 2016 we should all be looking very carefully at our print options.

Revamping all my print titles has been a priority for me for 2016 simply because I’ve not had decent enough internet to do it properly until the last few months (for any newcomers, I live in West Africa), but the latest figures emerging add to the urgency of the task.

It’s easy for indie authors to relegate print to a secondary consideration because of the issues getting access to bricks and mortar stores, but the difficulties are nowhere near as big as we’d like to think (it’s always far easier to avoid a hurdle than try to jump it cleanly and move forward) if we do some homework and embrace more than just the obvious first port of call for POD that is Creatspace.

Not that there’s anything wrong with CreateSpace, but if we aspire to sales in bricks and mortar stores, at home and globally, we need to have more than one POD operator in our toolbox.

And the bricks and mortar stores excuse anyway does not stand up to close scrutiny. for the simple reason that so many print sales actually take place online.

It’s important to remember that it wasn’t ebooks that put Borders out of the game. It was the online sales of print titles.

Yet most indie authors treat print as an afterthought. We are, collectively, ebook authors, some of whom dabble in other formats.

Our loss.

Print has somehow survived the past five years of turmoil in the US, and will yet survive the next five years.

And globally… Print is still king and as internationalist authors we will all be missing major opportunities ahead if we ignore print as the Global New Renaissance unfolds.

Because smartphones aren’t just a place to read our ebooks. They are also a shop window to the global bookstores selling our print titles.

And it’s an amusing thought that smartphones, which ought to be sounding the death knell of print, are actually helping global print sales, by increasing discoverability among global print readers.

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Audiobooks Outselling Print by 4-1

This Marketwatch story (LINK) should be taken as anecdotal, in that only a handful of authors are seeing this phenomena right now – but indicative of the future.

As I’ve been saying since 2011, audio-books will form an important part of the Global New Renaissance as digital enables listeners anywhere to embrace our titles.

These reports of authors giving up their day-jobs on the strength of audio may be few and far between, but this is going to happen more and more.
The problem, as ever, is distribution, with very few outlets available for global a-book sales. But that’s already changing, and over the next few years will change all the more.

ACX is the obvious and probably easiest option for indies to go the audio route, and a good place to start, but it’s not the only option.

As indie authors we have somehow managed to sort our own production of ebooks. So it’s certainly within our capacity to make similar arrangements for audio and keep more control of our work.

Now I’m finally fully internet-enabled here in West Africa a-books are a top priority for me for 2016, and I’ll be exploring further the possibilities for both production and distribution of audio in a series of posts in the new year.

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Mickey Mouse Goes To Beijing.

If we were still having any doubts about whether China might be interested in our western culture, Alibaba laid that crazy notion to rest with the announcement that Disney’s content will be streaming to China next year, and included in the deal will be a year’s subscription to Disney Life, which has Disney ebooks as part of its package. (LINK)

This comes hard on the heels of a report in Publishers Weekly saying “The Chinese market is hungry for U.S. children’s book content, ”

More on that report and other exciting prospects unfolding in China, in a future post.

But first, let’s get to grips with just how big the China market is going to be.

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China To Hit A Half Billion 4G Users By End 2016.

China Mobile is leading a crusade in China to double the number of 4G users in the country over the next twelve months, with 500 million people expected to be 4G connected in China by this time next year. (LINK)

It’s not clear how many of those will be upgrading from 3G rather than new users, but safe to assume China’s total internet engagement will be well over a billion people.

China remains one of the most exciting places on the planet for indie authors. And as the barriers to global engagement with China continue to tumble it can only get more and more exciting as we head into 2016.

As the deal with Alibaba and Disney Life (see above) clearly shows, China is hungry for western culture.

Western publishers know that. They are piling in both English-language titles and translations, and seeing great results.

Indies too. Regular readers will know a few western indies have done rather well in China, even (no names mentioned) hitting #1 in the Kindle China store in 2014, and many more have hit the top ten this year.

2016 holds untold possibilities and hard-to-exaggerate opportunities for indie authors willing to take fair Cathay seriously.

China isn’t easy to get into. But nor is it a closed shop.

China should be on the radar of all internationalist indie authors in 2016.

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The Future Of The Big 5 Is Multi-Media. How About For Us Indies?

HarperCollins continues to embrace the digital Global New Renaissance, having just teamed up with the video production company Insurrection Media to option and develop books in sci-fi, drama and comedy for both digital video and linear television series. (LINK)

They will “jointly identify key titles that are most compelling and suitable for video series and then co-develop and produce shows to be owned and distributed by Insurrection in the U.S. and overseas on a multitude of over-the-top and linear video platforms.”

Just one more way in which trad pub, far from being destroyed by digital as we were assured would happen back in the early days of the “self-publishing revolution”, is in fact embracing digital to add value to its operations.

And for most indies this will just widen the gap between successful trad pub authors and successful indie authors.

While indie authors’ works can and do get optioned for other media productions (earlier this year David Gaughran reported one of his books getting optioned for film – LINK), instances of this happening are few and far between, not least because generally only the most successful and high profile indies are going to get noticed in the first place.

Meanwhile it’s well worth us looking at our existing titles and pondering what other media they might work well in, and also looking at our future production with multi-media built in as we write.

Back when I was writing for TV the constraints were dreadful. To keep down costs concepts had to be “int” (indoor, so studio produced, not expensive outdoor shoots) with as few speaking cast as possible (speaking actors cost more than walk-ons), etc, etc. The list of what to avoid was a book in itself. Modern production is a world apart.

The only real issue for adaptations to mainstream video now is momentum and timing (does the story carry forward evenly and will it break down into twenty/fifty minute segments or will it cram into a 90-120 minute film production.

For those of us writing series, and especially novella length, it would take little adjustment to write more visually with a video adaptation in mind.
In the Philippines Wattpad leads the way, with Wattpad TV going out four nights a week with video adaptation of Wattpad titles. Aimed at a Filipino audience, of course, but only a matter of time before this becomes a feature in countless countries.

Amazon is already moving in this direction with its own studios, and the logical next step for the Amazon is to adapt its imprint titles to video.

The US ebook market is going to get tougher and tougher next year, making diversity both at home and abroad, in content, content distribution and content format, absolutely essential if we are to keep moving forward.

The opportunities ahead are incredible. But only if we can not just step outside of, but take great strides away from, the “I’m a one-market ebook writer” box that characterises most indie authors today.

As for staying in the comfort zone of being a one-market ebook author, check out the next story to see just why I think that’s a bad strategy.

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Reality Check: Glut Of Scripted TV Content Troubles Hollywood.

So says this Wall Street Journal piece. (LINK)

Needless to say the Reality Check bit is mine.

Market fragmentation is something I’ve long been warning of, and we see it across all media. Music, TV, film, books, etc.

Put simply, as more and more content producers enter the fray with a means to distribute, so the competition for eyeballs, ears and consumers’ cash becomes more and more fierce.

We saw this clearly with television in bygone days as multi-channel broadcasting became the norm. The average number of viewers for a TV programme today is a fraction of what it was thirty years ago when viewers had very little choice about what to watch.

We saw it with music as it became easier for smaller bands to get noticed, specialist radio stations and record labels proliferated, and production was digitalised.

And we see it with books. Readers have more and more books to choose from and more opportunities to discover new material.

But at the end of the day there are only so many viewers, listeners and readers to absorb this tsunami of new content being flung at us from all directions catering for every imaginable niche in any format we want.

Nowadays corporate film, TV, music and book producers clearly understand this, and they all look to global reach to keep their businesses viable.

Whether it’s the latest Hollywood blockbuster, the latest Marvel TV show, the latest Taylor Swift album or the latest Lee Child Jack Reacher novel, it’s a given these will be available worldwide to a global audience ion multiple formats and will rake in a ton of cash by being so.

Indie authors, not so much.

And while it’s true there are practical limitations to our global reach, the single biggest obstacle to indie success in the international markets is our own collective unwillingness to engage.

Our loss.

As globile internet takes hold we have unparalleled opportunities to reach audiences in places and formats totally off-limits even five years ago.

Or we can carry on partying like its 2009 and wonder why its getting harder and harder to get anywhere.

Go globile in 2016!

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From Russia With Love.

Over in the Russian Federation telco Rostelecom has extended its fibre coverage to 30 million households, with plans for further advances in 2016.

While not a priority engagement right now, everyone should have Russia on their radar.

Google Play is there, and of course Bookmate. Both accessible through StreetLib.

I’ve just signed up my two translator-partners for the Russian language and one for Ukrainian, and I’m looking forward to seeing my titles available to Russian, Ukrainian and CIS readers in 2016.

Currently Russian is not supported in Amazon’s KDP account, but there have been indications Amazon is planning a Kindle RU store. But don;t wait until that happens to start your Russian-language catalogue.

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Vodafone India Begins its 4G Roll-Out.

The Global New Renaissance is driven by globile – that is, global mobile.
It’s very much a leap-frog affair as 3G smartphones encourage people to buy smartphones which then justify 4G expansion which encourage even more people to get smartphones.

Vodafone India has just begun its 4G roll-out across India, (LINK) which will accelerate the take-up of smartphones across the country.

Literally half the world now own a smartphone. Over three billion people.

A reminder, if needed, that every single smartphone in the world is a potential home for our ebooks, audiobooks and other digital offerings.

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Instagram Is Already Bigger Than Twitter. Pinterest Won’t Be Far Behind.

Two new acquisitions by Pinterest strongly suggest the direction Pinterest is heading. As a major e-commerce player. (LINK)

The first five years of the “ebook revolution” have been dominated by one country, one retailer and two social media platforms.

The next five years are going to be dramatically different.

Not that the US, Amazon and Facebook and twitter won’t continue to play pivotal roles.

But the new world of globile publishing that is now solidifying is very different from what has gone before.

Availability everywhere needs to be combined with discoverability everywhere and buyability everywhere.

A diverse distribution strategy needs to go hand in hand with a diverse social media strategy over the next five years if we are to reach the hundreds of millions of potential readers who do not think Facebook and twitter are the be-all-and-end-all of social media existence.

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Google Steps Up Its Plans To Bring All Indians Online. Indie Authors, Stake Your Claims Now For the Goldrush Coming Soon!

This week Google announced plans to launch a program to train two million new Android developers over the next three years, partnering with more than 30 universities in India.

Google India already one of the biggest Google operations outside the US and is second only to the U.S. in total number of mobile search queries. (LINK)

I reported here back in September how Google planned to get wi-fi to 400 train stations in India, and this week Mumbai Central became the first to go live.

There will be 100 wif-fi train stations connecting 10m million train commuters by this time next year.

I also reported on the wonderful Google Saathi initiative involving Google teams touring the remote Indian countryside by bicycle and teaching rural women how to use their smartphones.

The Saathi project has now reached one thousand villages, and the plan is to reach 300,000 villages over the next three years.

These are just a few among countless initiatives from Google (like youtube offline) that are bringing more and more Indians to the internet each day.

And speaking of youtube, if you ever needed proof that we are witnessing a Global New Renaissance, just check out Youtube Space Mumbai, which also opened this week. (LINK)

“Today’s announcements are just our latest steps in our journey to bring all Indians online and make the Internet more relevant and useful for their needs,” Caesar Sengupta, Google’s VP for Chrome & Android said.

India this summer reached the point where the country has more Indians online than the USA has people. 350 million internet users. Most of them using smartphones that could be carrying our ebooks and audiobooks.

But here’s where it gets really exciting.

As Sengupta notes, “There are still nearly a billion people in India who don’t have access to the Internet.”

Not for much longer!

Any indie authors still not taking India seriously as we wind up 2015 should nip off to Starbucks and down a few treble-espressos.

India is already the second largest English-language book market on the planet (yes, bigger than the UK) and the sixth largest book market overall.
And it can only get bigger and bigger.

Given the hurdles to getting into China right now (it’s possible, but not easy) India remains my number one prospect for the next five years.
Don’t wait for the bandwagons to start rolling.

Stake your claim now for the India goldrush to come.

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Simon & Schuster Report “Significant Growth” In UK in 2015.

Reading the indie blogs recently you could be forgiven for thinking corporate publishing is on its knees once again. Every time a minor downturn in sales/revenue happens we seem to revel in the impending demise of the Big 5.

But of course sales and revenues roller-coast all the time depending on seasonal fluctuations, and of course one-off breakouts. And the Big 5, contrary to popular opinion in some indie circles, are not wholly reliant on the US marketplace for their continued existence.

This week Simon & Schuster are revelling in their global progress. Carolyn Reidy, CEO at S&S, notes,

“All the S&S international arms “turned in outstanding performances this year… with (our) Canadian arm growing faster than the Canadian industry. Australia has also outperformed the industry, gaining market share, strengthening (our) local publishing program, adding new distribution clients and making bestsellers from both US and UK titles. India, meanwhile, will launch its own local publishing program in 2016.”

Reidy adds,

“…the company’s direct to consumer marketing was ‘seeing terrific results’, with visits to its website up by more than 50%.”

On audio:

““We are positioned to capitalize on the fast- growing digital audio format which is transforming the audio business,”

Simon & Schuster and the other corporate publishers understand publishing is not a one-retailer, one-country, one-format affair.

Corporate publishing is enjoying the Global New Renaissance.

I’m loving it!

How about you?

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That about winds it up for now. There won’t be much industry news between now and the new year, so this may or may not be the last post of 2015, depending on what happens out there.

But as ever you can keep up on news snippets over at The International Indie Author Facebook Group.

But a final thought as I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

I live in a Muslim country in West Africa. Islam has its own calendar and their own new year. So does China and lots of other countries. Their new year does not coincide with ours.

But here in The Gambia, as around the world, Christmas will be celebrated in some way, and the New Year welcomed in as December 31st 2015 becomes January 1st 2016, whatever the local calendar says.

We live in one world where. whatever our differences, we all share a common need to be entertained.

As 2016 rolls in we, as content providers, have more potential reach, across more media, through more formats, in more languages, and to more people, than anyone has ever had at any time in history.

And the Global New Renaissance is only just beginning.

Don’t let it pass you by. Think about the next five years, not the next five weeks.

For daily news and discussion about the global indie publishing scene join this lively Facebook Group.

Catching Up On The Global Publishing Scene. November 2015 Update.

google-mobile-asia

 

Asia’s Emerging Ebook Markets.

When it comes to global ebooks sales we all need to think “globile”. That is, global mobile.

Much of the world have simply skipped the entire desktop PC and dumb-phone era and gone from no internet access to 3G and 4G smartphones, pretty much overnight.

With every single smartphone a device that could be carrying our ebooks the potential for authors and publishers is hard to exaggerate. But where to focus one’s strategic planning?

That graphic from Google at the top of this post may help decide.

For those unfamiliar with the international two-letter country coding:

  • AU is Australia
  • ID Indonesia,
  • TW Taiwan,
  • SG Singapore
  • HK Hong Kong
  • JP Japan
  • KR South Korea.

Right now Korea is the tops and India and Indonesia are way down the list in terms of smartphone penetration. But it’s these two countries that are among my top priorities.

Not just because they are fast growing (India will likely be the second largest smartphone market next year) but because Indians and Indonesia, coming late to the internet world, are far more reliant on smartphones in their everyday lives than we in the rich west who use smartphones mainly as an add-on to our existing desktops, laptops, e-readers, dumbphones, landline phones, etc.

And given India is the nation that reads the most, and the sixth largest book market on the planet even before smartphones fully impact, it’s not hard to see why even the more cautious commentators are now joining me in predicting India will be the next ebook gold-rush.

# # #

Africa Watch 1: Egyptian Book Store Chain Sets Up In UK.

In a sure sign of how the Global New Renaissance is taking hold, the Egyptian bookstore chain ALEF has opened a store in… London.

Read the linked post on Publishing Perspectives for the full story. (LINK)

Here just to extract the most pertinent point:

“We believed that people in Egypt don’t read because they don’t have access to books, and we turned out to be right…”

In fact ALEF is doing “booming business” in Egypt and the new London store is just the first step of their international expansion, selling not just Arabic-language books but Arabic books translated into English.

Yes, there are issues of (comparatively) low literacy levels in many countries across Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere. But the idea that people in these countries therefore don’t read is just ludicrous. The problem is, always, about availability and affordability.

And for indie authors and trad pub publishers alike the new “globile” markets where everyone and their dog has a smartphone in their hand, mean that we can, increasingly, reach readers hitherto completely beyond reach.

As we hurtle into 2016 the possibilities – and opportunities – ahead are unprecedented.

Don’t let them pass you by.

Go Globile in 2016 and build a truly international readership for your brand.

# # #

33% Of French Commuters Prefer Ebooks

It will come as no surprise to learn that French train commuters, just like commuters in many countries, while away the journey reading.

The French railway operator SNCF estimate 75% of passengers read books on their journey. (LINK)

What may come as a surprise is that 33% of them e-read – either on dedicated e-readers or on smartphones.

SNCF responded by offering their own ebook subscription service with 100,000 French-language titles. Check out the SNCF store here. (LINK)

It’s not clear who is supplying SNCF, but that’s neither here nor there.

What is key for us as indie authors is the direction digital reading in France is taking.

Ebooks, may still be a tiny fraction of the overall French book market, but early days.

Hard to imagine though it is, just a few years ago the US and UK were nascent markets with only a handful of people reading ebooks.

And in those early years it was very easy for a handful of savvy, forward-thinking indie authors to be very big fish in a very small pond.

This is the true beauty of the global nascent markets right now. There are open goals out there. Major opportunities to be big fish in small ponds now and to grow into even bigger fish as those ponds grow.

Already this year we’ve seen western indies top the charts in China. We’ve seen India leapfrog the UK as the second-largest English-language book market. In Germany indie authors have been dominating the ebook charts for some while.

Across Asia, Latin America and eastern Europe the book markets – and especially the ebook markets – are seeing a new vitality as the Global New Renaissance takes hold.

No, none of these markets (except China) can compare to the US market today. But that’s to miss the point.

And more importantly to miss the opportunity.

Because many of these so-called nascent markets – China, India, Germany, Latin America, Indonesia, etc – are already as big, or bigger (much bigger in the case of China) than the US market was back in 2009-2010.

And back in 2009-2010 savvy indie authors like Amanda Hocking and John Locke were gigantic fish in a very small pond. Million-sellers at a time when hardly anyone in the US even knew ebooks existed.

When looking at the emerging global markets available to us now, don’t think “nascent – not worth bothering with”.

Think OPPORTUNITY!

# # #

Children’s Book Sales “Booming” In China.

The Shanghai Children’s Book Fair took place earlier this month, and reports emerging (LINK) show a very vibrant children’s publishing sector with keen interest in titles from the wider world.

Hardly surprising given there are 370 million under-eighteens in China right now – more than the entire population of the USA. And that number could grow rapidly with the new two-child policy.

Incredible opportunities emerging in China across all genres, not just children’s books.

So far Fiberead remain the easy option for accessing this massive market, but I’m watching carefully for more direct opportunities alongside.

China is potentially the most lucrative of all the markets – the China market alone will dwarf the US market very soon – and it will rapidly expand over the next five years. But access is always going to be awkward. Not impossible, by any means, but not without its challenges.

Awkward it may be, but China should definitely be on the watch-list for any author serious about global reach.

# # #

New Distribution Channel’s For Audio Books.

While Amazon’s ACX is effectively the only show in town for indie audio, we should never rush to put all our eggs in one basket, because alternatives will be along soon enough.

  • Xin-Xii recently started distributing indie audio to German retailer.
  • Now, say hello to Author’s Republic (LINK), courtesy of AudioBooks(dot)com. (LINK)

I’ll investigate this further, but so far it looks like we now have a real alternative to ACX for distribution, although we’ll still need to get our audiobooks made first, which means ACX still has the advantage.

Author’s Republic does have some sort of iOS tool for making our own, but ACX clearly holds all the aces in this respect.

The Author’s Republic will distribute not only to Audiobooks(fdot)com but also to:

  • Audible
  • iTunes
  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Scribd
  • Downpour
  • tunein

as well as library providers such as

  • Findaway
  • Overdrive.

And presumably they will expand further on that as we head into 2016.

Perhaps more importantly, this will be the first of many. A matter of time now before other retailers open up audiobook self-pub portals themselves or ebook aggregators follow Xin-Xii’s lead and start distributing audiobooks.

Those locked into exclusivity with ACX for their audiobooks may be getting slightly better royalties (although Author’s Republic will supposedly be paying a competitive 35%) but could be missing out on reach, especially with Author’s Republic ‘s access to key outlets like OverDrive and Findaway which ACX will deny you.

And don’t forget good old-fashioned CDs. CDBaby can your audiobooks widely distributed for the majority of audiobook listeners that have not yet embraced digital.

Beyond that, another reason to avoid exclusivity is radio. Global radio is an exciting opportunity for indie authors converting their works to audio. More on that in another post.

# # #

Africa Watch 2: One Billion Reasons To Take A Second Look At Africa.

For authors and publishers, Africa remains the Dark Continent (which BTW meant and means “unknown”, not something derogatory) for book sales and discovery.

But for me it’s THE most exciting of the long-term prospects for indie authors, and one I’m following closely, although little chance of any significant sales there in the very near future.

But a new report confirms my anecdotal observations that Africa is embracing smartphones and 3G-4G mobile internet just like everywhere else on the planet.

Mobile subscriptions across Africa are expected to pass the one billion mark in 2016. (LINK)

That’s one helluva lot of people with devices that could have our ebooks on.

Contrary to popular opinion Africans love to read. Their problem is access to affordable books.

For authors, reaching African readers is the big challenge.

  • There is not a single Apple iBooks store anywhere on the continent.
  • Amazon blocks downloads to most of the continent and surcharges the rest, including South Africa.
  • Even Google Play, from whom you’d expect better, are only in South Africa so far.
  • Kobo is sort of available, but there is only a localized Kobo store in South Africa, and you need a bank card to use Kobo, so that makes it pretty irrelevant to most Africans.

Right now, South Africa aside, the African continent is not a friendly place for authors. But make no mistake – that’s an issue of distribution and accessibility, not a cultural indifference to books, ebooks and reading.

And there are a few bright spots on the horizon, as I’ll be reporting soon in an in-depth analysis of the state of play across my favourite continent. Meanwhile, check out further posts on Africa below.

I’m very excited by the emerging prospects for authors here in Africa. When I talk about the Global New Renaissance unfolding I really do mean Global, and I intend to be selling across many countries in Africa before this decade is over.

I’m a six-continent content-provider.

How about you?

# # #

$10 Smartphones At Wal-Mart.

With The Next Generation social media like Instagram and Pinterest, and messaging apps like Viber and WeChat getting hotter and hotter by the day, it’s a real PITA that you need a smartphone to participate. Even though many, like Viber, have desk-top access, you still need a smartphone number to sign up in the first place.

And some people, quite understandably, do not want the expense of a new phone, a monthly payment plan, etc just to join Instagram or Viber.

For those in America it seems salvation is at hand. Over at The Digital Reader Nate Hoffelder reports that Wal-Mart now offering a smartphone for just ten bucks, and on a Pay As You Go plan so no crazy monthly payments for a phone you may rarely use. (LINK)

Perfect to buy, along with a separate sim card and phone number, and use exclusively for social media like Instagram and messaging apps like Viber, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, etc.

As per previous posts, Instagram is now bigger than twitter. Messaging apps are reaching close to two billion people. An updated post on messaging apps this coming week.

Don’t get stuck in the past for the sake of ten bucks. Move with the times.

# # #

Africa Watch 3: Nigeria.

When it comes to global ebook sales Africa remains the last frontier as western ebook retailers continue to ignore this vast and exciting nascent market.

After all, Africa is still in the stone-age when it comes to digital, right? There’s no internet there, so no-one knows what smartphones are.

And as well know, nobody in Africa reads.

The latter point, however widely believed, is of course so laughable as not to bear further consideration.

But let’s take another look at the first point – that Africa is has yet to realise the internet even exists.

Leaving aside the above report, that Africa will have over one billion mobile subscribers in 2016, ponder this report on what Ericsson is up to in Nigeria.

Subscription video on demand.

Ericsson’s NuVu will launch in early 2016 offering some 3,000 local and international TV and films to eager Nigerian subscribers eager to use their smartphones for entertainment. (LINK)

Ericsson is working with leading international distributors to acquire content ranging from Hollywood to Nollywood (Nigeria has a thriving film industry).

How long before a dedicated Nigerian ebook subscription service pops up? Well, it certainly won’t be KU – Amazon has zero interest in Africa. But it will happen.

And just as Nigerians love Hollywood films so they do and will love western books (Nigeria is the largest English-speaking nation on the continent) – IF they are allowed access to them, and IF they are affordable.

Nigeria presents a great opportunity to start building a pan-African readership beyond the usual suspect, South Africa.

More on how soon. Here just to remind everyone that, as always, we should keep the third tier nascent markets like Africa firmly in mind when looking at the next five years.

No, absolutely no point anyone rearranging their schedule to prioritise Africa right now, but do keep Africa on your radar, and do lay the foundations there now for future development.

Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Tanzania are close to the tipping point where smartphones will become the main everyday access point to the internet for millions of English speakers. And there are plenty of other English-speaking nations in Africa not far behind. Malawi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Sierra Leone, etc. And even here in tiny The Gambia (yeah, The Gambia is one of only two countries in the world where the definite article is officially part of the country’s name).

And of course this is not some uniquely Anglophone phenomenon. French-speaking Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal, to name but two, are right up there in the globile (global mobile) stakes too.

Watch out for more reports on Africa below, and an in-depth report on Africa soon. The way things are shaping up here may well surprise you!

# # #

British Comedian Russell Howard’s Pending 2017 Global Tour.

No, not a book tour, but this isn’t as off-topic as it may at first seem.

Russell Howard is a British stand-up comedian who rose to fame in the UK on the back of the early days of the digital TV transition, when cheapskate TV productions flooded the myriad new broadcasting channels then emerging.

From being a largely unknown British comedian doing bottom-of-the-barrel shows for late-night TV micro-audiences Howard has, thanks to digital reach, built up a worldwide audience, in English, that goes far beyond the English language countries.

Yes, the tour is focussed on the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand, but also Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway, and of course his wider reach through digital extends globally.

Howard already knows where his paying audience will be in 2017.

The key throughout all this is digital. Digital reach is global, and that goes every bit as much for books as it does for stand-up comic TV shows.

Yet many of us indie authors still treat ebooks as simply cheap versions of print books, to farm out to the same home-market audience as print books, and then to wonder why it’s such hard work actually finding an audience.

Far from thinking about 2017 many of us indies don’t even have 2016 on our radar, even though it’s weeks away.

I’ve no idea how much Russell Howard actually understands or cares about all this, or how much his success is down to having a great manager and Howard is just sitting back and enjoying the ride.

But I do know most of us indie authors don’t have managers to think outside the box for us and spot the opportunities unfolding as the Global New Renaissance gets under way.

That’s down to us.

We have unprecedented opportunities to expand our reach and our modes of delivery.

We have unprecedented opportunities to step out of our ebook novelist boxes and become global content-providers across formats, across multi-media and across multiple nations far beyond the usual suspects.

Don’t look on 2016 as just a new year.

Look on 2016 as a new opportunity to break new ground and reach new audiences quite unthinkable back in 2009-1010 when the “ebook revolution” began.

Don’t let these unfolding opportunities pass us by.

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

# # #

Africa Watch 4: Google Play Is Rolling Out Youtube Offline Across Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.

No, it’s not ebook stores, but the direction is clear. Google is focussed on the wealthiest English-speaking countries in Africa.

So far Google Play only has one ebook store on the continent – in South Africa.

It’s a safe bet that, some time soon, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya will follow suit.

Google Play already has more global ebook stores than any other retailer. Some sixty or so. We can expect that to increase next year.

Currently the Google Play Books self-pub portal is closed to newcomers – although existing clients can still upload direct.

For the rest of us will need to use an aggregator.

Sadly neither Smashwords nor Draft2Digital supply Google Play Books.

Luckily both StreetLib and PublishDrive do, and can get your titles on Google Play within 24 hours.

NB: Other aggregators like Ebook Partnership also supply Google Play Books, but they have up-front fees. StreetLib and PublishDrive are pay-as-you-sell aggregators.

Google Play is a tiny player in the US, and if that’s where you are focussed, don’t expect too much action. But elsewhere around the world Google Play can and should be a key part of your global strategy.

But do be aware that Google Play pretty much automatically discounts our titles to make them more appealing to its customers. Which is great, except…

This will inevitably put you in conflict with Amazon’s price parity clause which dictates you cannot sell cheaper on another retailer than on Amazon.

So to avoid being punished by Amazon for Google Play trying to offer customers a better deal, you’ll need to price higher on Google Play when you first list.

But don’t let that put you off. Google Play is an invaluable place to be if you plan on going global.

# # #

Africa Watch 5: ACE Soon To Reach South Africa.

Okay, so quite a lot on Africa here today, but that’s just an indication of how Africa is fast gearing up to become a significant part of the global publishing scene.

Still not convinced? Consider this news just in.

Phase 2 of the ACE (Africa Coast Europe) project is about to begin. (LINK)

Now that may mean absolutely nothing to most readers, so let me offer some background as to just why this is so significant.

I’m writing this from The Gambia, West Africa. One of the poorest nations on the planet.

Five years ago, when Kindle UK launched, I had to partner with someone in the UK just to get my books uploaded, because there was, for all practical purposes, no internet here. Just a ridiculously expensive connection in the hotels, at dial-up speed.

Today I’m on a 4G connection quite unimaginable just a few years ago.

All thanks to ACE, a submarine cable which connects France and Portugal with :

  • Canary Islands (Spain)
  • Mauritania
  • Senegal
  • Gambia
  • Guinea Conakry
  • Sierra Leone
  • Liberia
  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • Benin
  • Ghana
  • Nigeria
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Gabon
  • Sao Tome & Principe

In addition two landlocked countries in the middle of the Sahara Desert, Mali and Niger, are connected via a terrestrial extension.

Hundreds of millions of people have suddenly, in the past few years, gained access to the internet in West Africa, completely by-passing the desktop and dial-up telephone line era, and are now enjoying 3G and 4G internet on smartphones.

As Phase 2 of ACE rolls out the submarine cable will extend all the way down the west coast of Africa, bringing European-standard internet to:

  • Namibia
  • Angola
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Congo-Brazzaville
  • South Africa
  • as well as an extension to Cameroon

reaching almost a quarter billion people.

As reported above, the number of mobile subscribers in Africa is already expected to exceed one billion in 2016.

And that’s before Phase 2 of the ACE rolls out.

Unless you’ve actually been to a seriously Third World country it’s hard to imagine just how transformational the internet can be in terms of education, health and economic development. Or how much it can transform entertainment.

Ebook sales are probably the last thing the ACE team are thinking about as they roll out Phase 2, but indie authors looking at the global picture should be in no doubt about the new opportunities unfolding.

The global digital reading scene in 2020 is going to be far bigger than anything we can envisage right now.

I’ve said before and will say again – the global ebook markets will collectively dwarf the US market many times over in the coming years.

If you doubt that, just consider the projection for 2016. Over one billion mobile subscribers in Africa as soon as next year. That’s over one billion subscribers in Africa using a globile device that could be holding our ebooks.

That’s a billion people almost all of whom are completely off the radar of the big western ebook retailers right now.

That’s a great excuse for just ignoring Africa. But if we’re serious about becoming global bestselling authors then we can’t afford to ignore any prospective market. Least of all one with the potential of Africa.

Think about the next five years. Not the next five weeks.

# # #

NB These posts have appeared previously over the past week or two on The International Indie Author Facebook Group.(LINK)

 

 

Mexico is Publishing’s New El Dorado, Draft2Digital to Distribute to 24Symbols, and other Hot Tips for Internationalist Indie Authors.

There’s so much happening on the global scene right now it’s hard to keep on top of things. And that’s before the Frankfurt Book Fair kicks off.

To keep you up to speed, here’s another batch of short posts on how the global markets are shaping up.

@ @ @

Regulars will know how excited I am about the Spanish-language prospects right now. With a half billion Spanish speakers around the world this is a huge market to tap into, and because of the concentration of Spanish speakers in Spain and Latin America it’s also a relatively easy market to tap into.

Two Spanish literary agents have just this past week launched a new venture called The Spanish Bookstage. (LINK)

The more observant will have spotted that’s in English, and so is the site – a reminder as ever that we Anglophone authors have a built in advantage in tackling the global markets even when the markets are in another language.

I’m a big fan of Babelcube – it’s a great way to find translator-partners. But… And it’s a big but… By going through Babelcube you hand over the distribution rights for that language to Babelcube and, at this stage in their game, that can be a frustrating experience, as Babelcube’s distribution leaves much to be desired.

Which is why, while I use translator-aggregators like Babelcube and Fiberead, I also seek translator-partnership arrangements independently. Not least for when opportunities like The Spanish Bookstage come along.

“The new platform,” says Publishing Perspectives (LINK) “comes at a time when the Spanish publishing industry (both in Spain and Latin America) is gaining stronger visibility in the global marketplace.”

While this is the first major platform dedicated to Spanish-language titles, there are plenty of similar operators which savvy indies should be keeping a close eye on that cover the global markets generally. I’ll be taking a close look at some of them as we wind up this year.

@ @ @

Publishing Perspectives is always a good bet for global publishing insights, and especially so this month with the Frankfurt Book Fair almost upon us.

In an article on Publishing Perspectives few days ago Özkan Özdem offered some very useful insights into the exciting Turkish market. (LINK)

Again, regulars will know Turkey is high on my list of priorities, so I found this post very instructive. You may too.

@ @ @

Moving on to that headline. Mexico is publishing’s new El Dorado?

Well, so says Diana Hernández Aldana from Turner Libros, a major Spanish-language publisher. (LINK)

Aldana expresses surprise at “the size of the markets in Mexico and Latin America and at their growth.”

@ @ @

Over at The Digital Reader Nate reports that 3M is out of the library distribution business. (LINK)

From Nate’s post:

3M’s library division has been bought by Bibliotheca, a company that describes itself as “the largest global company dedicated to the development, deployment, and support of self-service library solutions”.

Nate assures us the 3M library distribution will continue without interruption, just under another name. Which hopefully means there will be no interruption to Babelcube’s distribution to what is currently called 3M.

3M supply mainly the US library system, and had ventured into Canada. There was talk of an international network along the lines of OverDrive, but that came to nothing. It remains to be seen what will happen globally.

Meantime be sure to be in OverDrive’s library catalogues. OverDrive have extensive international distribution and with Rakuten now owning them it’s likely they will be expanding further as we hit 2016.

OverDrive library access for your titles can be gained through the pay-as-you-sell aggregators Smashwords or StreetLib . as well as many pay-up-front services.

@ @ @

Staying with StreetLib, a reminder that StreetLib now gets you into the key Latin American ebook retailer Bajalibros, which has stores across the region, including Brazil.

“In recent years,” opens Publishing Perspectives in a post on opportunities in Brazil (LINK) “while European book markets have remained almost flat or have even declined, the emerging countries are seeing a new chapter of the global business of books emerge in terms of exposure, opportunities and sales.”

Hardly news to regulars here, of course. Brazil has long been on my priority list.

Apparently only 25% of Brazilians have read a book in the past three months.

Plenty of reasons for that. Not least Brazilians being too busy playing on those beautiful beaches, or exploring the Amazon. Or, far more likely, that books have been a) unaffordable and b) unavailable.

But that is changing fast. Very fast.

And anyway, before we dismiss that 25% as too small to bother with, let’s bear in mind that 25% of Brazil’s 200 million population is 50 million.

Liana Suppressa, an Italian rights agent who specializes in children’s and YA titles, says that in Brazil there is a very strong enthusiasm and openness of publishers and of readers towards international authors,” adding, in Brazil “there’s a growing interest for middle grade and YA titles, both fantasy and contemporary realistic stories.”

Savvy internationalist authors will be looking to partner with Brazilian publishers to get a share of some of that growing enthusiasm, and of course making their own luck by going direct with their digital titles. Amazon, Apple, Kobo and Google Play are in Brazil,.

And not forgetting POD.

Babelcube is a great place to find (with some effort sifting through) some very competent Portuguese translators for both Brazil and mainland Portugal.

And longer term there are prospects for Portuguese translations in countries like Mozambique and Angola. As I’ll be exploring in a dedicated post shortly, Africa is an exciting emerging prospect.

@ @ @

Speaking of Africa…

As I’ve reported many times, one reason I’m so excited by the global opportunities unfolding is because of the way some cyber-companies are investing in global internet reach.

I summarised the wonderful work of Google (Internet Saathi, Loon, etc) and Facebook’s Aquila project over on the Anne R. Allen blog last month (LINK), and also mentioned satellites.

Both Google and Facebook are investing in satellites, and this post over at VentureBeat this week adds further details of what Facebook have planned for us. (LINK)

Facebook have just partnered with Eutelstat Communications to deploy geostationary satellites  that will cover vast expanses of sub-Saharan Africa, starting in 2016.

The five ton Amos-6 satellites, built in Israel, will orbit above Africa (in sync with the Earth’s orbit) and facilitate broadband internet reception across the region, linking to African ISPs and direct to consumers. Crucially working with standard off-the-shelf devices like regular smartphones and tablets. No specialist equipment needed.

@ @ @

Next, some words from trad-pub industry commentator Mike Shatzkin.

Shatzkin’s posts often get picked up by the indie blogosphere with the intent of ridiculing everything trad pub is doing. Usually with scant regard to the reality that trad pub is doing rather well.

This post from Shatkin covered backlist and export. (LINK)

That’s global sales, to us folk for whom international is a frame of mind, not just an ambition. Of course the indie blogs seized upon Shatkin’s thoughts on backlist and totally ignored his thoughts on export.

Shatzkin reports on an Ingram-hosted conference recently where one US publisher, Diversion Books, had launched its own ebook store app for its romance titles.

Shatzkin reports that Diversion are now seeing almost half – 49% – of English-language sales coming from outside the US, and perhaps most significantly of, 43% of sales coming from outside the US, UK and Canada.

A safe bet that 43% is not all from Australia and New Zealand, and very likely India is playing a significant role. But even so, a substantial portion of those “export” sales will be coming from other markets around the world.

Why?

Because they are being made available and buyable.

As I’ve said so many times here, trad pub (big and small) is raking in the cash from the global New Renaissance while most indies are still partying like its 2009, fighting each other for a share of the ever more competitive US market.

Indies can already get very profitable global reach from the mainstream retailers, but there are still vast tracts of the world off-limits by going this route.

Diversion’s ebook store app is one way in which small publishers – and indies –can reach a far bigger audience. And earn more from each transaction. And have access to the customer data.

Direct to consumer sales are something all indies with a decent-sized portfolio need to be looking at as we enter the second half of this decade.

I’ll be exploring this more as we head into 2016.

@ @ @

Finally, let’s end with the second half of that headline somewhere above.

Yes, Draft2Digital is about to announce a distribution deal with the Spanish subscription service 24Symbols.

24Symbols is a subscription service in Europe that has been happily managing to survive with the subscription model since 2011.

Draft2Digital currently supplies the US subscription services Scribd and Oyster (Oyster will be closing early next year), tas well as the European ebook operator Tolino, the global Page Foundry (Inktera and Versent ebook stores) and the usual suspects Apple, Kobo and Nook.

As best I can see, the new addition will make D2D the only English-language aggregator getting indie titles into 24Symbols (if anyone knows another, do let me know). UPDATE, With great embarrassment I have to admit I somehow missed the fact that StreetLib already supplies 24Symbols. Sorry guys! So Draft2Digital will not be the first or the only.  🙂

And with Smashwords having recently dumped Flipkart, the addition of 24Symbols will make D2D a first-option for ever more indies frustrated by Smashwords’ antiquated system.

I’ll be running a comparison of the main pay-as-you-sell English-language aggregators shortly, looking at the pros and cons of each.

@ @ @

We have unprecedented opportunities before us as the second half of the second decade of the twenty-first century unfolds.

Don’t let them pass you by.

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

For daily news and discussion about the global indie publishing scene join this lively Facebook Group.

The International Indie Author Facebook Group

Something for the Weekend. An overview of the global ebook scene.

There’s a rumour circulating in India that Amazon will be launching the Kindle Unlimited subscription service for just 199 rupees per month.

The report in ETRetail (LINK) does stress this is just a rumour, but if it turns out to be true it could be a game-changer.

The minimum price indies can set on Kindle India through KDP is 49 rupees, so a subscriber would have to read just five minimum-price titles a month to be up on the deal. For more expensive titles it would be even more rewarding for the reader.

And possibly lucrative for the author. The India ebook market may be nascent but it’s not dormant. In time it will be the second largest ebook market in the world.

That’s a few years off yet, but India is already set to exceed the USA as the second largest smartphone market. And every smartphone out there could have our ebooks on.

Any author looking to the long-term will be looking carefully at the India market, regardless of what happens with KU.

See this post on the “globile” future to understand why. (LINK).

~~~

I’ve posted on the phenomenon of adult colouring books a few times.

Mainly to stress that as indies we are already, to some extent, “outside the box”, and we should always be willing to take a few strides further and explore the incredible possibilities digital presents us.

With adult colouring books it’s been small press print outfits that have led the way.

This week it’s emerged that the “Secret Garden” adult colouring book has sold three million copies in the past three months… in China. It also sold a million in Brazil and a half million in South Korea. (LINK)

Both Brazil and China wildly outsold the US, and Korea outsold the UK.

Meanwhile in the US a self-published children’s book produced POD via CreateSpace and Ingram has sold over 20,000 copies in the US, topping the print charts.

In the latter case it was an indie author. In the former it could easily have been.

In this brave new world of the global New Renaissance the boxes we choose to live are largely of our own making.

We have unprecedented reach, unprecedented opportunities, and unprecedented possibilities to experiment.

Don’t waste them.

~~~

The issue of the self-publishers’ ghetto at OverDrive came up again this week. The post has since been updated to say there was “initially” a ghetto. (LINK)

Comments on that post confirm that, while there is a sub-section within the OverDrive facility for librarians that just holds Smashwords titles, indie titles from Smashwords ARE available in the OverDrive public catalogue.

In fact there are 187,000 Smashwords titles showing in OverDrive right now.

So let’s be clear. There is no ghetto.

I’ve been getting titles into OverDrive libraries for almost five years with no problems, and lately have been using Smashwords to add some new titles to the OverDrive catalogue.

For those who assert I’m “anti-Smashwords” for complaining about what doesn’t work well at Smashwords, let me be clear.

IF… and that’s still a big if, sadly – but if you can get your titles into the Smashwords premium catalogue, and of course if you’ve opted into library distribution, your titles will appear in the OverDrive library catalogues worldwide in a matter of days.

The exceptions are erotica titles, which OverDrive does not accept from Smashwords, but for everything else Smashwords is a cheap (pay as you sell), quick and (relatively) easy way to get your self-published titles into the OverDrive global libraries.

~~~

Sadly the same cannot be said for Flipkart. Smashwords has just announced they have cancelled the deal with Flipkart to get indie titles into India’s largest retailer.  (LINK)

Mark Coker makes some interesting, if controversial, arguments about how Amazon’s KDP Select is in part responsible for this decision. Coker argues indies wanting to jump in and out of Select were finding their titles not being removed from Flipkart in timely fashion, leaving indies in breach of Amazon’s exclusivity demand for participation in KU.

But here’s the thing: by cancelling the Flipkart deal, it is Smashwords that is penalizing the many authors that do not jump in and out of retailers chasing every new shiny dangled in front of them and are trying to build a global presence.

Surely it is not beyond Mark Coker’s ability to simply put a clear message on the site in relation to stores like Flipkart that indies cannot expect instant responsiveness from this particular retailer, leaving indies the option to list on Flipkart through Smashwords.

The very real danger for Mark Coker is that ,by removing options like Flipkart, he risks sending indies to rival aggregators like Xin-Xii who do offer Flipkart, along with Google Play and the Tolino Alliance stores that aren’t available through Smashwords. (LINK)

~~~

The latest of Big Pub to sign an English-language deal in China is PanMacmillan UK, who have announced a deal with Trajectory at the Beijing Book Fair this week. (LINK)

Trajectory are leading the way in taking English-language titles to the new globile (global mobile) markets, and fully understand we who write and publish are sitting on a global goldmine.

Trajectory has no facility for (or interest in) indie authors, but it may at some stage come to an agreement with one of the distributors we can access. That could be a long wait. Meantime trad pub is raking in the cash from English-language readers in China and elsewhere.

I’ll be forwarding this latest report to Fiberead (LINK) in the hope of nudging them in the direction of making our indie English-language titles available in China, but as yet their focus is (understandably) on the translations market.

But, in mind the current mess at Smashwords with Flipkart, Fiberead, or whoever steps forward to make China accessible to indie E-L titles, will have to include a clear contractual commitment to keep titles in for a sensible length of time, and that hopping in and out every five minutes will not be an option.

~~~

Globile up 55% year on year!

A new report from Ericsson estimates there are three billion mobile broadband users across the globe right now, (LINK) and the vast majority therefore have potential access to our ebooks.

Globile (global mobile) is still in its infancy in much of the world, but the growth areas are worth looking at. The US, unsurprisingly, but also India, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nigeria.

I’m adding Myanmar (Burma, for those who last looked at an atlas when they were at school) to my watch-list in view of the latest data, which confirms the trend I’ve been watching this past year for Myanmar.  There’s been a massive investment in broadband recently and its beginning to pay off big time.

It’s a pattern we’ll see repeated very soon in countries like Pakistan and Nepal, and across the globe.

I won’t bore you with details of the countless 4G licences I’m monitoring being auctioned right now globally, but my globile map is lighting up in places even I, the eternal digital optimist, thought were unlikely before the end of this decade.

As Google’s Loon balloon project and Facebook’s Aquila drone project go live over the next few years (the former already underway in Sri Lanka) we’re going to witness an explosion in globile traffic and global engagement that will be truly, truly remarkable.

~~~

In mind the previous item ponder this, for of such things as this is our future as global authors made.

The Pacific Caribbean Cable System (PCCS) has just started commercial operations. It links the USA, via Florida, with the Caribbean nations, Central America and northern South America as far as Ecuador, meaning millions more people across the Caribbean and Latin America have access to 4G-standard internet service. (LINK)

This in turn will accelerate the take-up of smartphones across the region, which in turn will build awareness of the benefits of the internet and so accelerate smartphone adoption even more.

Just one of the many reasons I am so excited by the Latin American market right now.

Here’s another.

The Russia-based subscription service Bookmate now has a carrier-billing deal with Tigo Mobile in Guatemala and Paraguay. (LINK)

Tigo Mobile is one of the big telcos in Latin America, and safe to assume this will be the first of many carrier-billing arrangements, not just with Bookmate but almost certainly soon with Google Play.

For those unfamiliar, carrier billing is where you pay for online purchases like ebooks from your mobile phone credit.

For Third World countries like these it is hard to exaggerate the significance of this. Most people across the world do not have bank accounts, let alone credit cards. But trying buying from Amazon or Apple without a card… Try subscribing to Scribd without a card…

Carrier billing enables the cash-paying reader to pay for ebooks online instead of relying on free-reading sites like Wattpad.

Study after study shows that, around the globe, the biggest hindrances to e-reading on smartphones are

a) that the retailers aren’t accessible and

b) where, as with Kobo, they are, local people simply have no method by which to pay.

Indian app-based stores like Newshunt and Rockstand shift millions of ebooks every year thanks to carrier billing. People who have no way whatsoever of paying Amazon India, for example, can simply buy a mobile credit scratchcard with cash, top up their mobile, and buy and download an ebook from Newshunt or Rockstand. No wonder these two stores are the fastest growing ebook stores in India.

In Latin America carrier billing plays a similarly crucial role in allowing people to pay for goods online. But it requires the retailer to come to an arrangement with the telco.

This service is already offered by some “domestic” Latin American retailers, but this move by Bookmate is the first by an outsider. I understand Google Play is also in talks with Tigo and other telcos to offer carrier billing.

Bookmate is a global subscription service that cleverly focuses on markets Amazon neglects, and it’s doing rather well. As well as being one of the biggest Russian services (along with LitRes – but watch out for a possible Kindle Russia store in the future – there are indications Bezos is trying to get a foothold there) Bookmate is a global operator, and big in key countries like Turkey (Amazon blocks downloads to Turkey).

The move with Paraguay and Guatemala is believed to be the first of a wider campaign by Bookmate to embrace Latin America. Just one more sign that Latin America is now firmly on the radar of the global retailers.

I get my titles into Bookmate through the British aggregator Ebook Partnership, but it’s a pay-up-front service and not one I could recommend just now, as the global landscape is changing so fast, and other routes are opening up.

Bookmate recently launched its own self-pub portal. I haven’t had the chance to investigate this yet, but it’s on my To Do list.

Bookmate is not going to make anyone rich with its payouts, but as a vehicle for global discovery and laying the foundations for the future, Bookmate should definitely be a consideration for any author going global.

One final word on Bookmate – they’ve just launched this past week in Indonesia. I can’t tell you how exciting that is. I’ll be doing an in depth post on the Indonesia scene shortly to explain why.

~~~

Here in West Africa the ACE cable linking Europe and the west coast of Africa finally went live in The Gambia just over two years ago.  While meaningful reach is still limited to the coast because the relay infrastructure is not in place yet across the country, the transformation has already been remarkable, with pretty much everyone having a smartphone of some sort in their hands.

Bear in mind this is one of the poorest countries on the planet.

People who two years ago did not know the internet even existed, and still have no access to running water or electricity, now watch youtube videos, use skype and Facebook, and would be lost without their (probably counterfeit, they are so cheap) smartphones.

Do they e-read? Most definitely, yes. But mainly on free sites like Wattpad because, quite simply, there is no mechanism for them to make payments even if the big retailers actually let them download.

But that will come, and with it will come a surge in global e-reading on an unprecedented scale as the global New Renaissance gets into second gear.

It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen everywhere at the same time, but it will happen. It is happening.

And those authors who have positioned themselves well now, and are using sites like Wattpad to establish a global presence where they have no commercial reach, will reap the benefits.

The PCCS cable mentioned above is just one of myriad similar projects happening right now around the globe that, along with the Google Loon project and Facebook’s Aquila drone project, is creating an internet-connected world that within ten years will net-enfranchise well over 95% of the world’s population.

Already our potential audience is well over two billion people. That’s how many people have a smartphone, tablet or similar e-reading device in their hands right now.

More than two billion people.

Yet the majority of indie authors are so busy fighting each other to grab a share of the fraction of the couple-hundred million US market that they don’t even know the wider world exists.

Their loss. And less competition for the rest of us.

~~~

Google’s fleet of self-driving cars now numbers twenty, averaging 10,000 miles a week. (LINK)

Over the past six years there have been eleven minor accidents and all have been the result of human-driver error in other vehicles – even a super-duper computerised self-driven car that can simultaneously see every other vehicle and pedestrian on the road can’t stop some idiot driving into the back of you because they were on their phone.

One day these vehicles will be everywhere, and will save countless lives.

Driverless cars, books with no paper, watching films on a phone, 3-D printers… My childhood science-fiction is today’s reality.

5G is almost with us, and at the current rate of accelerated innovation it’s impossible to guess what even 6G, let alone 10G, will bring, but I plan on living forever so I can find out. 🙂

That way I might even get time to finish a few more books.

~~~

Not everyone is enamoured by the idea of serialization of works, but I’m having great fun with it, and I’m not alone.

This report from the Bookseller is well worth reading to see how trad pub is engaging with serialization and seeing great results. (LINK)

Of course in the case of Transworld and Headline all the serialized parts were professionally edited to meet the requirements of serialization and put out well-formatted on all retail platforms, and then strung together professionally in a print version also made widely available.

Sadly indies going the serialization route often seem more focused on short-term gains (as with the old KU system), but serialization has much more to offer the savvy author.

One of the problems with serialization, of course, is that a serialized novel (or indeed non-fiction works, which is where my serialization focus is) is not a stand-alone book simply chopped into equal pieces.

A thoughtfully serialized work needs to a lot of careful consideration to balance the parts. So while it may allow you to get to market sooner and start building an audience for the project, it may well prove to be not just as much, but more work than slogging away at a single full-length project.

I’m certainly finding that with my serialization of the West Africa travelogues. In theory part two and three could have been live by now, but as I work through parts 4-5 I keep finding cause to go back and make adjustments to parts 2 and 3. While that’s easy enough with digital, it’s not a sensible option once the early parts are live, because early readers will not know of the re-writes and be lost if they impact on later parts.

So if you do go down this route take a leaf from Transworld’s and Headline’s book and make sure you have several parts firmly in place before you launch.

~~~

The Madrid-based digital-library supplier Odilo (LINK) is ramping up its game, and shifting to more English-language titles alongside its Spanish-language range.

No easy way into Odilo right now, but definitely one to keep an eye on, both as possible outlet in the future and as a barometer of the way things are shaping up.

Globally digital libraries are still pretty embryonic, but they present a fantastic opportunity for discovery and reaching new audiences.

Odilo is gearing up to challenge the long-established players like OverDrive, and its focus is worth watching.

While Spain is of course its core market, Odile is taking big strides in the US, and is in Peru, Colombia and Mexico right now, and will soon be in Chile. It’s also, intriguingly, in Australia.

And it’s handling titles in Italian, Russian and Chinese as well as Spanish and English, suggesting global ambitions and, for authors, global opportunities ahead.

Odilo isn’t geared to indie authors yet, but I’m making tentative enquiries about third-party routes in.

Even if we can’t get into Odilo this year or next, we should all be looking at operators like this, because they show clearly the way the global markets are developing. Latin America, for instance, is getting more exciting by the day.

If we’re not taking the global markets seriously and getting into translations and extensive distribution right now we’ll only have ourselves  to blame in years to come when other authors are seeing global success while we’re still struggling to get noticed in the ever more overcrowded market at home.

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

India Briefing. Amazon On Target To Become A Significant Player, But It's Not The Only Show In Town.

DiversifyIn2015

 We’re working on a comprehensive overview of the India ebook market which we’ll be releasing in epub, mobi and PDF formats, but that will be a while yet, so meanwhile here’s a quick summary for those who can’t wait.

India is one of the fastest growing markets for both print books and ebooks, and English-language titles are experiencing renewed interest thanks to the easy access of ebooks on smartphones and to the big strides online retailers are making not just in their online presence but in their delivery capacity. This means that print books are now readily available to avid readers outside the big Indian cities where bricks & mortar bookstores are viable.

Flipkart remains the dominant player for both print and digital books, but Amazon is making vast strides, and lately has resolved many of the issues of accessibility and payments options we’ve previously expressed concerns about. Amazon is now on target to become a significant player in the Indian book and ebook market over the next few years.

Apple still has no iBooks presence in India and Kobo, while there, is not having any impact thanks to some very disappointing partnerships  thus far. Hopefully that will change now Rakuten are beginning to take the global ebook market seriously. Rakuten also has a finger in the India pie through OverDrive, which supplies Infibeam’s ebooks.

Nook of course is not there and nor is Txtr, leaving just Google Play and Magzter to fly the flag for the western ebook players.

Google Play is making big strides, but early days. You can go direct to Google Play or through the Italian aggregator Narcissus or the German aggregator XinXii. We expect Google Play to become significant player in India as they upgrade their payment options.

Magzter is holding its own in India, but is not easily accessible for indies. Those with the British aggregator Ebook Partnership will be there.

Local stores like Crossword (via Kobo) are minor players and Landmark recently closed its ebook store. It’s not clear if that is permanent.

Pothi is a small but friendly operator that will distribute both your ebooks and print titles across the subcontinent.

Of the many other local ebook players two are worth seriously getting involved with right now.

Rockstand and Newshunt.

Newshunt started out as a digital magazine vendor (75 million downloads to date) and took on ebooks about a year and half ago. Back in September last year we reported Newshunt had seen 4 million ebook downloads. Six months on and that figure has almost trebled, to eleven million.

Newshunt is a mobile-only ebooks store that is run by Ver Se. It has seen 50 million app installations, has over 14 million active monthly users and gets over 1.5 billion monthly page views. More importantly it expects to have 200 million active monthly users within two years, as m-commerce takes off in India.

Given India is expected to have 385 million smartphone users by 2017 (more than one for every man, woman, child and baby in the US) that kind of growth is probably conservative.

By 2020…

One of the reasons Newshunt is seeing such tremendous growth is that it offers payment options Amazon and co. do not, namely carrier billing. Newshunt even has its own micro-billing facility, iPayy.

Rockstand is owned by Handygo Technologies, and needless to say it too offers carrier-billing – via three Indian telcos: Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.

As with Newshunt, getting in isn’t easy for indies.

But nor is it hard.

Last year Rockstand signed a deal with Ingram for ebook content, but of course only a handful of indies are in the Ingram ebook catalogue in the first place.

The good news is, both stores WELCOME western indies and if you get in touch with them they will walk you through their direct-upload process.

Better still, Newshunt CEO Virendra Gupta tells us Newshunt will be launching a fully-fledged self-publishing portal later this year. We’re hoping to get an exclusive interview with Virendra on this soon for the EBUK blog.

But enough of ebooks. Let’s talk print books.

No, don’t switch off. Dump the kneejerk reaction that print and indies are somehow different planets and never the twain shall meet. Indies need to take print seriously.

Most indies treat print as an afterthought, but print is BIG business globally and it may surprise you to know that your POD print books actually have even wider distribution than your ebooks.

If you have POD titles through CreateSpace then, if you elected for Expanded distribution (it’s free!) then your paperbacks should be available from Amazon India. (LINK       )

But readers in India can also order them from Amazon’s other India store, Junglee. (LINK)

Or from Flipkart. (LINK)

Or from Landmark.(LINK)

Or from Rediff Books. (LINK)

Or from BookAdda. (LINK)

Or from…

And on and on and on.

CreateSpace distribution. If you have your titles through Ingram, or are using the Indian distributor Pothi you’ll have even better reach (and with Pothi far faster delivery times).

And of course it’s not just in India. We indie authors have global print reach quite inconceivable just a year or two ago. When we talk about a global New Renaissance we mean exactly that. A Global. New. Renaissance.

What is happening is quite unprecedented in human history. Digital isn’t just enabling us to sell digital books, it’s enabling us to reach the far bigger percentage of the world that hasn’t yet embraced digital.

We can’t begin to exaggerate how significant this is.

The internet has been around for many decades now, but for most of the world it was a novelty or a luxury of the rich in a handful of big cities.

You not only needed an unaffordable computer, but you needed reliable electric to run it and for the internet you needed a cable to connect to the ISP and you needed an ISP in your country in the first place.

Suddenly everything has changed. Mobile has transformed the world in ways most of us are not even beginning to come to terms with.

Not just the literally billions who can now e-read. But a sea-change way beyond access to digital content.

Amazon India is an ideal example. Pre-mobile India was just another struggling foreign market for Amazon. Only the rich could afford to buy from Amazon and Amazon could only ship effectively to a handful of big cities.

Now the e-commerce giants like Amazon and Flipkart are investing staggering sums of cash into India’s e-commerce infrastructure. Warehouse, delivery, etc. Because suddenly, in the space of a couple of years. Amazon and Flipkart and all the other e-commerce sites are able to reach hundreds of millions of people previously not on their radar.

And that includes making books – both print and digital – available to literally hundreds of millions of people who previously had no access to such things.

But despite the huge numbers of people now using smartphones to e-read on, print is still king.

Bear in mind that, the US and UK aside, pretty much every country in the world has digital reading adoption at below 10%. The inverse being, 90% or more are still reading print.

And damn and blast, we indies can’t be bothered with print because, well, we’re indies.

Step outside the box. Digital access to print is transforming our prospects not just as ebook authors but as print authors.

Don’t treat your POD endeavours as an afterthought. Make print part of your career strategy. And not just at home, but globally.

We’ve said before and will say again, India, Indonesia and China are the most exciting prospects on the planet right now for indie authors willing to step outside their comfort zone.

The global ebook market is going to dwarf the US market many, many times over as it blossoms, and counter-intuitively the print market is expanding at a rate of knots too. This truly is a global New Renaissance.

As ever, those who get an early foot in the door will have best chance to reap the rewards.

No, there will be no instant successes and no instant rewards.

But think about how hard it is now for new authors to gain traction in the US and UK markets. And how much harder it’s getting, by the day.

The nascent global print and ebook markets aren’t quite open goals, but there are myriad opportunities for savvy authors to become big fish in small ponds overseas. And then to grow to be even bigger fish as the pond gets bigger.

No, it won’t be easy. Yes, it will take time, effort and probably some costs if you really want to make an impact.

So start small. Focus on one country – say, India, since that’s the focus of this post – or maybe two, and get things in place, and then move on to the next. Build a readership base and then move your focus to the next country.

No-one can do it all at once. Don’t try.

But don’t take the path of least resistance. Amazon is a great starting point for India, but make it just that. A starting point.

Amazon can play a key role in your path to becoming a truly global bestselling author, but it won’t do it on its own. Period.

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

 Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

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

Go Global In 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exactly. It matters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.