Category Archives: OverDrive

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

The View From The Beach – Mark Williams At Large

Gunjur-Coastline-Gambia

We tend to focus on in-depth posts and analysis on the global publishing scene for the EBUK blog, and as the entire EBUK project is a not-for-profit operation run by volunteers it often means smaller, but no less important, items of interest get passed by.

So we asked frequent EBUK blog contributor Mark Williams to run a regular column here sharing with us pertinent shorter news stories, as ever throwing in his unique perspective as an international bestselling author and surveyor of the international publishing markets from the far shores of West Africa.

And yes, that is his local beach. As he likes to remind us, he lives the writers’ dream, hammering away at a keyboard on picture-postcard white sandy beaches lined with picture-postcard green gently swaying palm trees next to a picture-postcard warm blue ocean beneath picture-postcard blue skies.  Hey, nobody said life was fair!

The View From The Beach – Mark Williams At Large.

May Is Short Story Month. Are You Ready?

It’s actually the third Short Story Month – it started in 2013 – and momentum is gathering as more and more people look for “bite-size” reading. (LINK)

Millennials have been particularly identified with the demand for this type of material, in part reflecting the rise of smartphone reading and lifestyles where working hours are far more flexible than in days of yore.

Vintage/Anchor Books are releasing a short story every day during May to mark Short Story Month, all priced at 0.99, and I think they are on to a winner.

I also think, because I’m going down this route myself, that short non-fiction, and especially short narrative non-fiction is also the new black.

Amazon’s Kindle Singles and B&N’s Nook Snaps have already proven the demand for short digital material, and Vintage/Anchor see a lot of potential to engage readers with shorter offerings.

We were all surprised to find Millennials, the generation most comfortable with smartphones, preferred reading paperbacks to reading ebooks, but my feeling is its all to do with length. Reading a 100,000 word novel on a smartphone (as opposed to an e-ink ereader) is probably not the most pleasant of reading experiences, but for consuming a shorter work in a short space of time a smartphone may well be the ideal vehicle.

As indies we have in some way painted ourselves into a corner with our 0.99 full length novels flooding a handful of key markets, but we need to step back and view the markets from the perspective of readers, not writers. Something we collectively seem not very good at, as the huge number of exclusive-with-one-retailer indie titles shows. What better way of telling readers that what we care about is us, not them…

As the global New Renaissance gets into second gear we should all divest ourselves of any straight-jacket notions about what will sell and where, and what will be commercially viable, and likewise we should all divest ourselves of any straight-jacket notions about marketing and promotion.

Kobo Parent Company Rakuten Enters The Magazine Publishing Market. Expect Amazon To Follow Suit Soon.

I’m surprised Amazon hasn’t gone down this route yet, but with Rakuten leading the way it’s now pretty much inevitable they will do so.

Rakuten’s first venture is a fashion magazine in Japan, and rather cleverly all the fashions featured are also for sale on Rakuten’s Ichiba retail site. (LINK)

Purely speculative but I would imagine India would be the ideal place for Amazon to follow suit. Amazon’s fashion arm has been making big strides in India, and an e-magazine devoted to exposure for fashion items available on the Amazon IN store would boost Amazon’s challenge to the 600lb gorilla in the Indian e-commerce marketplace, Flipkart, which happens to own India’s 600lb gorilla e-fashion site Myntra.

If I were a betting man I’d put money on both Flipkart and Amazon launching e-magazines this year. And if I were adviser to Jeff Bezos I’d be asking why Amazon doesn’t have both an e-zine and a print zine of its own in the USA.

Career Authors Alert: Selling Rights Vs Selling Ebooks.

Here’s a White Paper that’s free to download from Publishing Perspectives. Its theme: Global Rights and Licencing.

This is only 20 pages, but well worth the time if you are serious about being an international bestselling author.

Don’t be misled by the title. A lot of indies think in terms of selling ebooks. Even thinking about selling print books is a stretch. So selling “rights” might not be something you think indies need to be bothered with.

If so, think again.

Selling “Rights” should be at the heart of your career strategy so you can let someone else worry about the donkey work of selling your work beyond your comfort zone, while you actually spend your time writing the next book.

But it’s not just about selling the book. It’s about selling the translation rights, the film rights, the TV rights, the boardwalk rights, the game rights, the…

So long as we indies are locked into the microverse of ebooks we are never going to be able to compete with the big boys.

The White Paper is mainly about global book (print and digital) rights, but also includes a very useful section on film rights – something ALL of us should be thinking about.

It also includes a “starter” for the global markets by focusing on two countries regular readers of EBUK or my posts elsewhere will know are high on my list as places to be focused on: Brazil and Indonesia.

I know few of you are convinced about Indonesia, but ponder this little gem from the report:

Of the 32,000 titles published in Indonesia in 2014, 50% were translations of foreign languages, with English the front runner.

Other snippets from the post reiterating what I’ve been saying:

“Germany is the trans-Atlantic powerhouse.”

“Japan is the fourth largest publishing market.”

“The Spanish language markets offer global opportunities.”

“Turkey is taking off.”

“Poland and the Czech Republic are showing strong signs so life.”

The global New Renaissance is a fact. It’s happening all around you as you read this. And you can be part of it. Front seat tickets are on sale right now.

Or you can be a bystander and wave as it passes you by.

Hopefully this link to the GoogleDocs download form will work for you. (LINK)

If not, pop along to the Publishing Perspectives website. (LINK)

Asia Watch 1.

 Tencent, the Chinese e-titan, has just seen its value exceed two hundred billion dollars, leaving the likes of Amazon in its wake. (LINK)

Yet another clear sign, as I’ve been warning this past few years, that the centre of digital gravity is shifting east, and we should all be focused on getting a foothold on these oriental players now, before the rest of the west wakes up and starts a stampede to climb on board.

Tencent, Alibaba, Xiaomi, JD and a host of unpronounceables I’ve been tagging these past years are now coming of age and with that come opportunities unparalleled in the west as the global New Renaissance shifts into second gear.

The upstart start-up Xiaomi has just upped its ebook game with a deal with Trajectory, Macmillan and Gardners to get western English-language ebooks into the Xiaomi store. See more on this below.

A week or so ago Tencent became for all practical purposes the biggest ebook store on the planet (except by revenue, because ebooks in China are so much cheaper) as it reinvented itself (more on this in an in-depth look at China shortly).

JD has long been one of the biggest ebook stores in China, and last year signed a deal with one of the Big 5 western players to get English-language ebooks into China, where demand for E-L literature is high.

In doing so they followed the lead of OverDrive, now ironically owned by another eastern giant, Rakuten.

Alibaba doesn’t sell ebooks yet but you can sell your print via Alibaba through its US store 11Main. Expect Alibaba ebooks soon.

As the only western indie author to have a title hit the number one spot on Amazon’s Kindle China store I’m probably better qualified than most to say savvy indies should all be making sure China is not just on their radar but on your URGENT ACTION NEEDED list.

And make sure India and Indonesia are there too, because these are among the next eastern hot-spots for indie authors willing to step outside their comfort zone.

UK and Australia Digital Libraries Now Supplied By 3M.

 The 3M Cloud ebook service is now available in the UK and Australia, having shifted north to Canada last year. (LINK)

We’ve covered 3M on the EBUK blog before and will run an update on the global library markets soon.

Here just to remind you that, erotica authors aside, you can get your ebooks into the OverDrive catalogue via Smashwords.

The pay-up-front aggregator Ebook Partnership will get you into the OverDrive global libraries (over forty countries) and also into the OverDrive retail outlets which Smashwords does not deliver to.

Or you may prefer to pop along and try Ebooks Are Forever, a new initiative by Joe Konrath to get indie titles into US libraries. (LINK)

Magzter Now Open To Indie Authors.

 The global digital magazine retailer Magzter also sells ebooks, and following a reference in a post here on EBUK recently they kindly reminded me that indie authors can now upload direct to Magzter.

Go to Magzter (LINK) and set up a publisher account and then upload your titles. They need to update the site as it seems to suggest you can only publish magazines still, but if you go through to the next stage you’ll find a portal specifically for ebooks.

I get my books into Magzter through a third party so can’t say what the experience is like, but I can say Magzter is a fast-growing global player (over 200 countries).

As most magazines are non-fiction I’m expecting non-fiction ebooks to do particularly well on Magzter, and all the more so if the subject matter ties in with the theme of the more popular magazines.

At the moment the Magzter ebook store is sparely populated and this is a great opportunity to be a big fish in a small pond if you play your cards right. My guess is many people will discover e-zines before they discover ebooks, and most of those will discover ebooks on the same site they buy their e-magazines from.

Watch out for a detailed post on Magzter soon.

 Asia Watch 2.

Xiaomi Steps Up Its E-Book Game! Are You Ready?

  Xiaomi, the upstart start-up from China, has in just five years has gone from nowhere to be one of the biggest smartphone players on the planet.

This month it has been announced Xiaomi has a deal to take western ebooks into its China store, with strong indications the ebook stores will be extended to other countries in the near future.

Nate at Ink, Bits & Pixels has the scoop. (LINK)

Trajectory recently fixed a deal with Tencent to get English-language titles into the Chinese market, and what is gobsmackingly wonderful about this new deal is that it also involves Britain’s wholesale distributor Gardners, which means there is a back door in for indies.

Needless to say l’m already in Gardners, so looking forward to seeing my English-language titles in Xiaomi alongside my Chinese translated titles which have been doing rather well in the China markets.

Yes, before you ask, there is serious demand for western E-L titles in China. Last year OverDrive did a big deal to get western content into China and in September we reported here on the EBUK blog on HarperCollins signing a deal to get its E-L catalogue into China. (LINK)

Now Macmillan has followed suit.

We’ve said on previous occasions that Xiaomi isn’t yet taking on western titles but that it will, and when it does, to jump in with both feet.

It’s happening.

And it won’t stop at just China.

Earlier this month Xiaomi sold 2.12 million smartphones in twelve hours when it did a special sales event across its outlet countries, which include key nations like Thailand and Indonesia, India, Brazil and Turkey.

If you’re serious about becoming an international bestselling author then you need to be serious about players like Xiaomi. Because Xiaomi is serious about ebooks.

Subscription Services Get Bigger & Better. Mostly.

Digital music has been around a lot longer than ebooks, in a meaningful commercial sense, but only in 2014 did digital revenue finally exceed “physical” revenue for music.

And much of that was driven by subscription. (LINK)

Meantime Netflix had a stunning Q1 picking up 5 million new subscribers (LINK) while continuing to make profit.

The naysayers love to say ebook subscription services are unsustainable, and then point to music as an example of why, but music is doing just fine and film and video subscription – far closer to ebook subscriptions than music – goes  from strength to strength.

A given ebook subscription service may come or go, but as a commercial entity the subscription model is working just fine for all digital products. For content providers? Spotify not so much for musicians, and Kindle Unlimited not so much for authors. But early days.

New subscription services are emerging by the day. The Danish subscription service Mofibo will be launching in the UK this year.

And be sure to watch out for the new kid on the block, Playster, due to go live this summer. Playster plans to offer an across the board digital subscription service with music, video, ebooks, audio, etc, all for a fixed fee.

Simon & Schuster have just signed up for Playster. (LINK)

And in separate news Penguin Random House, while still eschewing subscription for ebooks, has put its audio books into Scribd.

Back in February HarperCollins put its titles into the Russia-based subscription service Bookmate. Expect Macmillan and Simon & Schuster to follow suit soon.

Although CIS based, Bookmate is far bigger than just Russia, and is focused on targeting places Amazon blocks downloads to. But with an Amazon Russia Kindle store rumoured to be around the corner the competition between Bookmate and Amazon might be about to be heat up.

I’ve been in Bookmate a while, and can’t say as I’ve seen much action, but I have great hopes for Bookmate in the future. Bookmate is fielding a quarter million English-language titles, only a handful of which are indie. Plenty of opportunity for savvy indies to get traction in the nascent markets Bookmate serves.

Be part of the subscription ebook scene or miss out, because the readers are heading that way in their droves.

 Book Tango / Book Country – What Worries Me Is Books On Board.

 The rebranded Book Tango (LINK) has long been on my watch list, but what worries me still is the links and references to Books On Board, which went under two years ago this month. (LINK) Surely two years is time enough to get the website updated?

One good reason for looking at Book Tango was that it distributed to Google, which the main pay-as-you-sell American aggregators like Smashwords and Draft2Digital do not. But with both Xin-Xii and Narcissus able to get your ebooks into Google Play I still can see no reason to risk playing with Book Tango. But I’d love to hear from anyone who has and has some experiences to share.

+ + +

I’ll wrap this session up with something from trad pub at the London Book Fair. Yeah, thought you’d be impressed. But love it or hate it, trad pub is here to stay and doing rather well. And we can learn a thing or two from it.

At the London Book Fair Faber & Faber CEO Stephen Page talks about how a “new ecology” has emerged in the publishing industry.

Quote: “The previous ecology got hammered and challenged. A new one has emerged that is partly around the resilience and return of physical books, partly around the new confidence there is.  There is a new confidence about the options open to publishers, about the creation of value, about investing in content with confidence. There is a shift towards the consumer, which is still continuing and isn’t finished yet, and just a new confidence about the tools and opportunities open to us.” (LINK)

For those indie fundamentalists who live and breathe the “self-pub good, trad pub bad” mantra it’s bad news. Far from rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic (try finding an indie blog between 2010-2013 that didn’t say that), trad pub has sealed the hole, pumped out the water and fired up the engines again.

For authors who prefer to live outside the tribal lines it’s another sign of a wonderful future ahead for all of us who are willing to embrace the New Renaissance rather than chase archaic print dreams in digital formats.

The opportunities are just beginning to emerge, and many indies will miss most of them because many of us are still thinking books and readers. That is soooo 2009.

Look at the words Stephen Page uses. “Content” and “consumers”, “tools and opportunities”.

Yes, we can dismiss these as meaningless biz-speak, but alternatively we might want to consider that trad pub, having adamantly refused to keel over and die as the indie movement gleefully hoped back in 2009-12, might just be on to something.

For industry-watchers there is not just a new confidence but a new vibrancy in the publishing industry as 2015 gets under way. So very different from the uncertainty and near-despair that epitomised 2010-12.

Indies would do well to watch trad pub very closely, because trad pub is very clearly thinking about the next five years, not the next five weeks.

Individual publishers and bookstores may come and go, but as an industry trad pub and trad pub retail will be stronger than ever in 2020 as it embraces the tools and opportunities of the global New Renaissance.

Where will you be at in 2020? Riding high with them? Or still trying the same tactics that worked so well in 2010 and wondering what’s gone wrong?

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

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

Go Global In 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More hassle than it’s worth? Not necessarily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diversified Distribution In 2015!

 Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

Smashwords Titles Now Appearing In OverDrive Mainstream Ebook Catalogue.

Go Global In 2014More good news from Smashwords.

Back in July we ran a post about how, despite promises, indie ebooks being delivered to one of the world’s biggest digital library distributors, OverDrive, were not actually being made available to readers. (LINK)

This in follow-up to a story on The Digital Reader in June explaining how Smashwords titles were being shunted into an “indie ghetto”. (LINK)

As we noted in our July post, this wasn’t an anti-indie policy per se. Indies using other means to get into the OverDrive catalogue were readily available for readers to find on the main OverDrive site.

We are now hearing from Smashwords-delivered indies that SOME of their titles are appearing in the main OverDrive catalogue (LINK).

It’s not clear yet if this is the early stage of a full flood of indie titles and that OverDrive have opened the ghetto gates, or if these are hand-picked titles selected by Smashwords and that the rest of us are still consigned to the can.

At this time a search for Smashwords as publisher (which all Smashwords-delivered ebooks will carry even though Smashwords isn’t our publisher) shows about 4,000 titles in the OverDrive store.

Out of 200,000.

So, either a long way to go as the rest filter through, or this is special treatment for a select few. Time will tell.

Do go check out the OverDrive store and see if yours are available. Do write to Smashwords and ask why not if they aren’t.

NB: As per our last post on Smashwords erotica, if you are an erotica writer your titles weren’t invited to OverDrive in the first place. (LINK)

Thinking digital libraries not worth bothering with? OverDrive saw over 100 million digital downloads in 2013.

Digital libraries, like ebook subscription services, increasingly offer a far better deal for readers than ebook retail stores. The reason being when you buy from Amazon, Nook, Google Play, etc, you only buy a licence to read the book. The ebook is not yours to keep, lend or re-sell. So why pay full price when you can pay a token fee or read free at a digital library or pay a monthly fee and read as much as you like?

The only reasons are convenience and availability.

Savvy readers will be getting the best of both words by using subscription services and libraries and just using retail store for the few titles they can’t get any other way.

Savvy indies authors will be making sure they are available where the readers are.

Ebooks Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

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

Go Global In 2014

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

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

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

How does over 300 sound?

 ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

162 global retail stores.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 ~

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

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

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

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

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

No pain, no gain.

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

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

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

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

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

Be part of it.

’Txtr Launches Ebook Stores In Latin America. Wears Its Smashwords Badge With Pride. Indies, It’s Time To Return The Favour!

txtr indies

Berlin-based ebook retailer ‘txtr (for those unfamiliar, there’s no capital, no vowels and the apostrophe is in the right place!) is about to take another big leap forward with the imminent launch of six new ebook stores. Five in South America – Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela – and another in Mexico.

At this point the store menu (bottom right on the ‘txtr home page) has visual links to the new stores, but they feed back to the central store in Germany. We’re hoping to hear back from ‘txtr on a firm launch date for these, and whether we can expect ‘txtr to follow Google Play’s lead and roll out across a wider swathe of Latin America.

Some observers will be dismissive.

‘Txtr has yet to make a significant impact anywhere, and its token stores in the US, Canada, UK and Australia face fierce competition from established American and domestic brands. ‘Txtr also has the failure of its ultra-cheap ereader the ‘txtr Beagle to weigh down its reputation.

But as Tennyson would have said had he lived to see digital books, better to have tried and lost, than never to have tried at all.

Here’s the thing: ‘txtr is a plucky little outfit with ambition, vision and, it seems, enough money (3M, itself no stranger to ebooks, are among its backers) to play the long game.

With twenty-five global stores ‘txtr has already more than doubled Amazon’s Kindle stores, and is firmly in third place behind Google Play and Apple for dedicated ebook stores catering to overseas markets. Throw in the reach of ‘txtr’s partner stores and ‘txtr ebooks are available in some fifty countries. Without surcharges.

Our guess is Russia, Brazil and India will be priorities for ‘txtr, and then to embrace those areas of Europe so far by-passed (notably Scandinavia and east Europe), before turning its attention to S.E. Asia, following close on Google Play’s heels.

For indies this is great news. While some indies have been enjoying sales at ‘txtr for several years through Ebook Partnership, it is only recently that ‘txtr has been easily accessible, thanks to a distribution deal with Smashwords.

Yet bizarrely many indies seem to have opted out of ‘txtr distribution.

Their loss, because ‘txtr is one of the few ebook stores that wears its indie badge with pride.

Check out the indie section on ‘txtr’s US and UK sites, where indie titles are being given significant exposure. Not a self-pub ghetto like on OverDrive (an update on this soon) but front page stuff saying ‘txtr are PROUD to host self-published titles.

At which point you’ll be thinking, yeah, very nice, but it will be the usual suspects. Ordinary indies like us don’t stand a chance.

Think again.

No sign of Hugh Howey and Joe Konrath here! Konrath of course is exclusive with Amazon (apart from Be The Monkey), and Howey, it seems, just can’t be bothered with ‘txtr, or even Smashwords. Given Smashword’s is the world’s biggest indie aggregator and indie ebook store this is a rather curious stance from someone who purports to champion the self-pub cause.

So which indies are ‘txtr showcasing?

Click on this link – http://us.txtr.com/smashwords/?referral=banner – and you’ll see a slide show of highlighted indie authors. Delve deeper to see highlighted indie series and other great little boosters.

Doubtful these authors will be buying their second luxury yacht off of ‘txtr sales just yet, but don’t dismiss ‘txtr out of hand just because no-one’s ever heard of it in indieland.

In the real world beyond, ‘txtr has a lot going for it.

An ebook store with over a million titles, a great device-agnostic platform, and a key understanding of glocalization that Amazon sorely lacks.

While Amazon hints at a pending Kindle Netherlands store, maybe, some time, when they can be bothered, and meanwhile surcharges Dutch readers who try to buy from the Everything Store, ‘txtr long since provided the Dutch with their own ebook store. And the Belgians, and the Swiss, and the Danes, and the Poles, and the Hungarians, and…

In fact, going where Amazon can’t be bothered is a key part of ‘txtr’s strategy.

“Especially in markets where Amazon isn’t yet present, network operators can combine the competitive advantage of being first to market with their billing capabilities to lead the development of the local ebook market. txtr’s e-reading service comes with an integrated billing solution, but we have extensive experience of connecting to 3rd party payment providers.”

‘Txtr has been around since 2008, a year before Amazon launched KDP, and as above counts 3M among its backers. At the other end of the business ‘txtr counts classy book retailers like Foyles (UK), and major tech-players like T-Mobile and Lenova as partners.

‘Txtr may not have Amazon’s brand recognition or traffic, and may forever be a bit-player in the key US and UK markets, and even in its home market in Germany, but elsewhere ‘txtr is shaping up to be a significant player in the global ebook market Amazon shuns.

Here’s the thing: Amazon’s Kindle stores runs on rails. Print rails. It’s a sad irony that the store dedicated to accelerating the transition to digital at home (mainly to reduce storage overheads and shipping costs) predicates its international Kindle expansion on the print market.

That’s just beginning to pay off in Brazil, where Amazon is starting to gain traction in the lucrative print market. But as anyone who has sold an ebook on Kindle BR will know, you can hit the best-seller charts with a single sale, and make the higher echelons of the in-store chart with just a handful.

Brazilians were buying ebooks from domestic and Latin American stores back when Amazon was slapping surcharges on readers who tried to buy from AmCom. No surprise then that Brazilians haven’t rushed to embrace the Kindle store since it launched.

And it’s a similar story across the Amazon sites. With the exception of maybe Kindle UK and Kindle DE, the satellite Kindle stores are simply adjuncts to Amazon’s actual or pending print and other e-commerce interests in those countries.

Which is why we can’t even hope, let alone expect, Amazon ever to become a global ebook player in the way that Google Play and ‘txtr are now positioning themselves.

As the global ebook markets burgeons, so Amazon will become more and more marginalized.

Not a problem for those authors who think the US and UK are the be-all and end-all of their publishing existence – Amazon will continue to be the dominant player here for the foreseeable future. But for anyone with ambitions to become a truly international bestselling author it is stores like Google Play and ‘txtr that will help make it happen.

At the moment Google Play, while supportive of self-publishers (Google Play is actively seeking out indie authors to sign up for special deals) does not make it easy for us.

The Google Play self-pub portal is a challenging process, and as yet very few aggregators will get you in. The UK’s Ebook Partnership and Italy’s Narcissus, and Ingram and Vook seem to be the only alternatives to going direct.

With ‘txtr, by contrast, access is as easy as signing up to Smashwords.

And as is now plain for all to see, ‘txtr won’t hide your Smashwords titles away like OverDrive does.

Just the opposite. ‘Txtr will proudly shout them from the rooftops.

At a time when indie authors are increasingly being sidelined by ebook stores (in the UK three of the biggest ebook retailers have no self-pub titles at all); at a time when Trad Pub is dominating the ebook charts; and while the big players like Amazon and Kobo continue to pay lip-service to indies while giving Big Pub all the perks (how many years has it taken just for indies to get pre-orders?), we need all the friends we can get.

If you are in Smashwords and have for some reason opted out of ‘txtr, you might want to reconsider.

If you are not in Smashwords at all, then the ‘txtr distribution alone is a good reason to reconsider, plus they have great distribution to Flipkart, India’s biggest ebook store. So far as we know Smashwords is the only “free” (pay-as-you-sell – there are no free lunches!) aggregator getting titles into ‘txtr.

So a big round of applause to Mark Coker and Smashwords for the deal with ‘txtr, and an even bigger one to ‘txtr for embracing and promoting self-published titles, instead of hiding them away.

Now how about we indies do something to show our appreciation?

Next time you’re doing some promo, spare a thought for ‘txtr. No, none of the big promo newsletters even know ‘txtr exists, but there’s nothing to stop you adding a ‘txtr link to your tweets and FB posts.

If we all tweeted a ‘txtr link alongside our Amazon links it could make a big difference, not just to our sales, but to ‘txtr’s future.

‘Txtr is making the effort for us. Let’s return the favour.

 

Ebook Bargains UK.

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

 

Scribd – What It Is And Why You Should be There

 GoGlobalIn2014_500

The first Scribd results are in for Smashwords, and it’s looking good.

Over at the Smashwords blog Mark Coker reports “It was the largest first-month sales for any new Smashwords retail partner in the last five years.” April figures were even more impressive.

Coker also reports on a Scribd promo dedicated to indie authors. Check out the Smashwords blog for more details.

Not in Scribd? You’re not alone.

Scribd is a fine example of the parallel universes readers and authors inhabit. Many indie authors have never heard of Scribd, and even fewer have given it a second thought a venue to reach readers.

Yet Scribd has over one hundred million registered users globally and gets EIGHTY MILLION unique visitors each month.

No, that’s not typo. Eighty million a month!

No, not all those visitors are looking for ebooks, but many will be and that number will be increasing by the day thanks to the ebook subscription service Scribd offers.

~

First, some background. Scribd has been around for a while now. It launched in 2007 as a global document sharing platform, and since as long ago as 2009 – the same year Amazon launched the KDP – Scribd has been selling ebooks.

In January 2013 Scribd soft-launched its ebook subscription service as part of its premium content offerings, with an official launch in October 2013. By the end of 2013 the ebook subscription service was one of the biggest of its kind.

Amazon famously lets you borrow a whole ONE ebook a month for free if you are a paid-up Prime member, and that free ebook comes from the limited selection available in Select, which of course will be free at some stage regardless. And of course it excludes all mainstream-published titles.

Scribd lets you pay $8.99 a month and you get to read as much as you like from an impressive range of titles from big name authors. HarperCollins, for example, has put much of their back-catalogue into Scribd.

Why would anyone want to use Scribd instead of buying from Amazon or B&N or Google Play or whatever their favourite retailer is?

The answer is very simple, and why subscription ebook services like Scribd are the new black.

Here’s the thing. When you buy an ebook from Amazon (or any other retailer – I’m using Amazon as an example because it’s the one most indies are familiar with) you don’t actually buy the ebook.

No, seriously. You may think that when you click on “Buy” and the retailer takes money from your account that means you’ve bought an ebook and it’s yours to keep. The reality is rather different.

Never mind that it’s an intangible you can never hold or touch or put on the shelf. You don’t even own the ebook once you’ve paid for it!

What you buy is the licence to read that ebook on a certain range of devices subject to the whim of the retailer. You don’t own the ebook and you never will. You can’t resell it, or even give it away when you’ve finished.

Let’s spell that out clearly, because this is going to impact on your indie author career whether you like it or not.

An ebook you “buy” from a retailer is licensed to you. It’s not yours any more than a library book is yours. Savvy readers understand this and ask themselves why they would want to pay top whack for an ebook when they might be able to get the same title on their device for a token fee from a library or subscription service.

~

Of course we all know that subscription services and digital libraries are so new – America only invented them last year – that readers don’t even know they exist, so we indies needn’t worry. Just carry on as we are.

But there’s the problem. Readers. The fly in the ointment of all ambitious indie authors. If it wasn’t for pesky readers our lives would be so much simpler. Just load up to KDP and sit back and watch the cash roll in.

The trouble is, readers (who are the ones who actually pay us, remember. Amazon, Nook, Apple et al are just the middlemen in this game) don’t really care about our convenience or well-being. They just want good books at good prices, and they will go to retailers and outlets that suit them, not us.

As more and more subscription services appear, so more and more readers will migrate to them. Scribd saw three million downloads of its Android app in its first month after the official launch in October, and in February this year Scribd lunched a KindleFire app after 100,000 Scribd ebook subscription service users said they wanted to use Scribd on their Amazon device.

Pause briefly to ponder the significance. If you own a KindleFire it’s pretty much a given that you buy your ebooks at Amazon. Not compulsory, but the two tend to go hand in hand. Yet here, in the space of a couple of months, are 100,000 KindleFire owners asking for an app for their device so they can read ebooks from the Scribd subscription service.

Why? Because, as above, you don’t own your ebook from Amazon, so why buy a licence each time you want to read a book if you can pay Scribd $8.99 a month and download as many ebooks as you like?

No, Scribd hasn’t got several million titles to choose from like on Amazon, but the selection is big and growing fast as more and more publishers and authors clamber aboard.

And of course it’s not just Scribd playing havoc with the big retailer’s hopes and aspirations. Oyster currently supplies Apple iTunes and is US only, but will soon have an Android version for all devices and has ambitions on the wider world.

Both Scribd and Oyster are accessible to indies through Smashwords or Bookbaby.

The other subscription services aren’t so indie-friendly right now, but give them time… Entitle face an uphill struggle with some bizarre pricing decisions, but may yet turn their boat around. Epic, the subscription service for children’s ebooks, has recently obtained new funding and will be expanding into Europe later this year. That’s just a few from many US options.

And won’t the Europeans be delighted to finally see some subscription ebook action? That’s the problem being away from the cutting edge of the ebook industry in the US. The rest of the world are just so far behind with this ebook malarkey.

But don’t tell that to 24 Symbols in Spain, Skoobe in Germany, Riidr in Denmark or the many other subscription services around the globe, including in Russia, which many analysts are predicting will be the third biggest ebook market after the US and China before this year is out.

Total Boox in Israel is now sending ebooks to US readers and libraries.

And don’t even mention Nuvem de Livros, an ebook subscription service for Argentina and Brazil that is set to roll out across the rest of Latin America this year. Nuvem de Livros already boasts one million subscribers. If you’re not seeing many sales from Kindle Brazil, Apple Brazil, Google Play Brazil or Kobo’s Brazilian partner store Livraria Cultura in Brazil it may just be that many readers are too busy reading ebooks from Nuvem de Livros or borrowing ebooks from digital libraries instead.

Digital libraries? The other elephant in the room for indies who want to believe a certain well-known US store is the be all and end all of their existence. Because for the same reason that subscription ebook services are taking off – that you will never own the ebook you “buy” – so savvy readers are turning to digital libraries to sate their hunger for ebooks.

Last year North America’s leading supplier of ebooks to libraries in the USA and Canada, OverDrive, saw one hundred million digital downloads. The numbers this year are expected to dwarf that figure. And OverDrive is just one of many options to get your ebooks into digital libraries, not just in the US and Canada but around the world.

Oh, and as an aside Overdrive doesn’t just supply libraries. It will also get your ebooks into key retailers like Books A Million in North America, Kalahari and Exclus1ves in South Africa, Waterstone’s in the UK, and a host of other outlets globally. OverDrive has just this week signed up a deal to take content to and bring content from Japan.

And news just in – Baker & Taylor now supply ebooks to Canadian libraries. Those of you with Smashwords or Bookbaby should see some benefits.

But back to Scribd.

One of the downsides to Scribd is concerns about piracy. Scribd operate a two-tier service and the free file-sharing platform does seem open to abuse, as pretty much anyone can upload anything. The premium platforms – including the ebook subscription service – appear to have resolved this problem. The fact that a major publisher like HarperCollins has signed up with them should reassure those with concerns. Bottom line is, piracy happens. It happens on Amazon, on Kobo, etc. It’s something we have to live with.

But Scribd isn’t sitting back and hoping for the best. They have a new system in place – Book ID – to help keep Scribd a healthy place for authors. Check out the details on Book ID here.

How to get into Scribd? You can go direct, but both Smashwords and Bookbaby now offer you an easy route in. Which is best? Hard to say at this stage as Smashwords titles have just started to get results and Bookbaby is a little behind them.

If you are with Smashwords for the other subscription service Oyster then I would recommend you go to Bookbaby for Scribd. Why?

First, it’s always good to spread the load. Putting all your eggs in one basket is asking for trouble.

Second, Bookbaby has a reputation for quality which Smashwords sadly lacks. Bookbaby requires validated epubs and ISBNs, which means only the more serious indie authors go there, and there are controls over what gets through. Smashwords is a free-for-all load-what-you-like option.

Third, Smashwords also has a reputation as a Triple X porn site, which Bookbaby most definitely has not. As above, Smashwords is a free-for-all load-what-you-like option.

But let’s end on a positive note. Scribd and the other ebook subscription services, along with digital libraries, are going to be major players in the coming years as more and more readers reject the idea of paying for a licence for every ebook they read and pay a token fee to a library or a monthly fee to a subscription service and read all they want.

Whether it’s Scribd, Oyster or some other subscription option, getting your ebooks into the subscription model and the digital library distributors should be your priority.

The readers are already there. Are you?

 

 Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

Does Amazon Take Its Customers For Granted?

GoGlobalIn2014_500

No, we’re not saying it does, but this is a suggestion by a respected economist over at Forbes this week, with the attention-grabbing headline Is Amazon Making A Big Strategic Mistake?

Economics reporter Panos Mourdoukoutas opens with this observation:

Of all big strategic mistakes leaders of fast-growing corporations make, one stands out: Taking the customer for granted. Blinded by growth, these leaders assume that their products and services are unique and indispensable, so customers will always be there to buy them at any price.

Mourdoukatos was talking about Amazon’s wider customer base, not indie authors, but he could just as well have been.

As we noted in a recent post, Amazon has just 65% of the US ebook market. As noted in other posts Amazon has seen market share plummet in Germany (estimates vary from 60% to 65%), has seen market share on a downward slope in Australia (the new Kindle AU store was a desperate measure to stem the decline – down to 65%) and Kindle UK saw the supermarket ebook store Sainsbury challenge the mighty Zon head-on in 2013. With Tesco’s Blinkbox Books to launch this spring we fully expect Amazon’s UK ebook market share to be savaged in 2014.

And this is just the ebook retail markets. This takes no account of the wider ebook market share being grabbed by subscription services like Oyster and Scribd and by digital libraries supplied by wholesalers like OverDrive (one hundred million digital downloads in 2013) and other distributors.

No, you won’t see this reported on many of the Amazon-centred indie blogs, but here at EBUK we are not (and will never be) an affiliate site, which means we are totally independent. We don’t make extra money on click-throughs on ebooks to selected retailers so we have no reason to favour one retailer over another, either in listings in our daily promo newsletters or when reporting on the global ebook market scene.

That said, don’t misconstrue anything here as anti-Amazon. Amazon is still the most important retailer for most indies, and even if Amazon drops below 50% of the ebook market that still makes it one helluva player.

But indies need to be aware of the wider debates about the future of their favourite ebook store, and of the ebook markets in general. It’s not 2009 anymore, Amazon isn’t the only show in town, isn’t the biggest retailer in many countries now, and may not always be the biggest where it is now the dominant player.

The savvy indie author plans for the next five years, not the next five weeks, and to do that they need to keep an eye on where things are going, not just where they are now, and certainly not to make plans on how things were yesterday.

Bricks & clicks vs bricks & lockers

Amazon is the online giant of the world. The world’s biggest online retailer. But one that struggles year-in, year-out to make a profit. As the Forbes report notes, Amazon in 2013 “amassed close to $75 billion in revenues at razor thin margins.”

Now $75 billion in revenue is not to be sneezed at. By any reckoning that’s serious money. But Amazon brought in that money with a profit margin of just 0.37%,  and while Amazon shares are still remarkably high there’s no question the shareholders are getting restless.

To put things in context Wal-Mart is the biggest retailer in the world. Period. While Amazon brought in revenues of an impressive $75 billion, Wal-Mart brought in a rather more impressive $475 billion. While Amazon managed a profit margin of just 0.37% Wal-Mart managed a far more substantial 3.6%.

 Gunfight at the UK Corral

 Wal-Mart doesn’t have an ebook store. Yet. But it’s coming.

One possibility is for Wal-Mart to buy the (supposedly) ailing Nook, as we’ve predicted several times, or even B&N itself.

Wal-Mart has been watching the rise and rise of Sainsbury in the UK and will not miss a trick as Tesco’s Blinkbox joins Sainsbury in a pincer attack on Kindle UK that will see the mother of all price wars in Britain this summer.

Indie authors – already banned from W H Smith, and blocked from Sainsbury and Tesco (so much for Barry Eisler’s assertion that indie authors have the same distribution capacity as trad-pub  authors) – don’t stand a chance as Kindle UK desperately price-matches Sainsbury and Tesco to hold its ground.

If you’re quietly smirking at the thought of a couple of backwater British grocery stores snapping at the ankles of the mighty Zon, think again. Tesco is constantly in the top five largest and most profitable retailers in the world, just behind Wal-Mart. It has pockets more than deep enough to match anything Amazon can do, and like Wal-Mart is it past fed-up with Amazon’s constant encroaching into supermarket territory.

While the online giant Amazon talks about developing a bricks & mortar presence but never seems to get past warehouses, retail lockers and vending machines, the big bricks & mortar retailers have been very actively laying the foundation for their bricks & clicks future.

And ebooks are going to play a very big part in that. Both Sainsbury and Tesco in the UK are working very closely with the Big 5 to make sure Amazon UK’s stranglehold on the British ebook market is broken this summer.

Earlier this month is a post entitled What do we do if Amazon stops growing? Futurebook’s Philip Jones noted that UK publishers were “unfeasibly excited” by the prospect of the Tesco Blinkox Books launch.

In the US it’s no coincidence that Wal-Mart recently grabbed Nook’s top man with the connections with the Big 5 in America.

Indies complacently putting all their eggs in the Amazon basket need to see the way things are trending, not the way things were. Change happens, with or without us.

Prime reasons for diversifying your marketing strategy

As we reported yesterday, while Amazon had nothing to say about ebook sales growth in its report for 2013 it was a very different story for Kobo, reporting over 40% growth.

Indies who choose to go exclusive with Amazon rely on the co-called “free bounce” (the sales boost that comes after a free run using KDP Select) and Prime loans (Select ebook titles are available for Prime members to borrow free) to counterbalance the lost revenues on other platforms.

But a glance at any indie forum will show most authors are seeing ever-dwindling returns with the free bounce. Prime borrows were a novelty a year or so back but with ebook subscription services like Oyster and Scribd (among many) offering all you can read for  $10 a month, and digital libraries offering more and more, the ability to borrow one book a month free with Prime from a very limited selection of Select titles is ever-less exciting.

In a report entitled “Amazon Prime memberships poised to tumble with price hike” last week Investor’s Business Daily noted,

After posting disappointing fourth-quarter results on Jan. 30, Amazon said it’s considering raising the price (of Prime membership).

Of course a rise in the price of Prime will be just one of many price hikes across the Amazon spectrum. We’ve already seen Amazon cut back on free delivery in both the US and UK, and other cost-cutting exercises are expected, along with price rises, as shareholders get ever more restless that the world’s largest online company can’t make a profit.

Yes, it’s been investing heavily, but so have Wal-Mart and Tesco, and they seem to manage just fine. In the Forbes report we opened this post with, Panos Mourdoukoutas, talking about over-capacity and weakening demand, concludes,

But with customers resisting a price hike, Amazon may find itself with too much capacity in the face of slowing demand, extinguishing already thin profit margins.

Is Wall Street ready for this prospect?

Never mind Wall Street. Are indies?

Retailer Round-Up

Amazon – all Amazon sites are accessible direct through KDP or through pretty much all aggregators.

Kobo – direct through Kobo Writing Life or through most aggregators.

OverDrive – direct or through Ebook Partnership.

Scribd – direct or through Smashwords or Bookbaby.

Update: we are advised Bookbaby’s feed to Scribd is purely for the Scribd store, not for the subscription service. For that you need to be with Smashwords. Thanks to Jim for the tip.

Oyster – through Smashwords.

W H Smith – not a chance.

Sainsbury – not a snowball’s chance in hell.

Tesco Blinkbox Books – not a fire-proofed snowball’s chance in hell even if you say please.

Update: There may be a back door into Tesco Blinkbox Books after all, See comments, and thanks to Jen for the tip.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter

Far more than just the UK