Category Archives: Selling ebooks in SE Asia

Half The World Now Own An Ebook-Friendly Smartphone. Still Think Going Global Is A Crazy Idea?

Global Digital NOV 2015

Latest stats show the world’s total population at 7.3 billion. And over half of them – 51% – own smartphones that could be carrying our ebooks.

A quarter billion people have started using the internet for the first time just in 2015. 300 million people around the world have used social media for the first time this year. In almost every case that has been driven by globile – that is, global mobile.

And the growth rates are accelerating, not slowing.

The scale of our potential global readership is simply staggering, and growing literally by the day.

Obviously its not quite that black and white – not all smartphone users are actually connected to the internet, fewer still will be readers, and fewer still of those will actually be able to access our ebooks even if we have the best possible distribution.

But when we start talking numbers on this scale even tiny percentages can be massive in real terms.

As I’ve said many times, the global ebook marlets will collectively dwarf the US market over the next few years.

A full global overview will be available in early 2016. Meantime there’s a very instructive regional overview of SE Asia just released.

TechInAsia has a great post (LINK) on the digital transition in SE Asia (that’s roughly Asia to the east of India and south of China – essentially Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, etc.

With over 600 million people – almost twice the size of the US population – SE Asia should be on every author’s radar as a place to reach readers.

And rather helpfully 250 million of them are active internet users and 230 ae active on social media.

Check out the TechInAsia post for a comprehensive breakdown.

Here to look closer at the social media element, where there are a few surprises in store for those of us who still think Facebook and twitter are the only shows in town.

Needless to say Facebook is still the biggest player.

But in second, third and fourth place are not social media networks at all but those annoying messaging apps we indies do our best to ignore.

WhatsApp at #2, followed by QQ, then Facebook Messenger.

Twitter next? No, not yet.

Next comes the social media network QZone, followed by another messaging app, WeChat.

Followed by Instagram, and only after Ingram comes twitter.

To be fair, twitter has a respectable 316 million users in the region, but Instagram has 400 million.

And racing up behind are, amongst the regional names we may never have heard of, more familiar players.

249 million Viber users.
230 million Tumblr users.
211 LINE users.
200 million Snapchat users.
100 million Pinterest users.

Drilling down regionally for targetted marketing by country will help you focus on which network or messaging app is best by country.

Facebook is massive in Indonesia, for example, but in Thailand LINE is almost as big as Facebook.

In the Philppines Viber is especially strong.

I’ll be dissecting the data country by country in future posts, and needless to say I’m counting the days until the full global report is released.

Safe to assume the same pattern we are seeing here in SE Asia is being replicated across much of the planet.

Globile is changing the world, literally, and part of that change is a fast-growing global publishing market quite beyond anything we could have envisaged back in 2009-1010. A huge, globile market in which indie authors and big publishers alike can play a role.

When I first began talking about a global ebook market driven by smartphones, back in 2011, it all seemed too good to be true.

Fast forward five years and the Global New Renaissance is real, It’s happening. Right now.

Books and ebooks are a central part of it.

Are you?

Don’t let the incredible opportunities unfolding pass you by because a fixation on the US market is easier and more convenient.

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

Indonesia – why you should be there and how StreetLib and PublishDrive can get you a foothold.

Indonesia is a nation spread over an archipelago of more than ten thousand islands.  Yet somehow Indonesian publishers manage to sell books, are doing rather well now and expected to do very well in the near future.

Indonesia is one of the seven key countries featured at the Frankfurt Book Fair global markets focus this year, as well as being the Fair’s Guest of Honour.

Regulars will know I’ve been waxing lyrical about the prospects in Indonesia for a year or two now. Like India and China and a handful of other countries ,Indonesia has been a priority focus for me.

Why?

Because besides having the fourth largest population in the world, Indonesia is very engaged with the digital world. And the very factor that has hampered traditional publishing in Indonesia – being an archipelago of well over 10,000- islands – means Indonesia is the ideal place to sell ebooks.

So long as there is an internet connection available.

Oh, and a retailer.

The good news is, Indonesia is a hotbed of cyber-activity, and with a young population (over 80% of Indonesians are under 30) internet interaction is big. Seriously big.

The Indonesian capital Jakarta is twitter’s busiest city anywhere in the world. Indonesia is a major Facebook country (and helpfully 20% of Indonesian Facebook interaction is in English) and sees major activity with other social media, especially messaging apps.

As smartphone penetration increases so will Indonesia’s prospects as a market for digital products such as ebooks.

The bad news is, Amazon blocks downloads to Indonesia and there’s no iBooks Indonesia store (although Apple is huge in Indonesia, so it will come).

  • The good news is Google Play and Kobo are there.
  • So is eSentral. (LINK)
  • And so is Bookmate. (LINK)

In August of this year Bookmate signed a deal with IndoSat to launch the Bookmate Cipika-Books brand, (LINK)

Bookmate currently has some 2.5 million users around the world.

eSentral will get you into a number of SE Asian countries otherwise difficult to access, but let’s stick with Indonesia.

No, neither Smashwords nor Draft2Digital will get you into Bookmate. Nor Google Play. Nor eSentral.

But StreetLib (LINK)  – will get you into both Google Play and Bookmate.

PublishDirect (LINK)   – will get you into Google Play and eSentral.

For the record, pay-up-front aggregators like Bookbaby, eBook Partnership and Vearsa also get you into these stores, but the focus here is on pay-as-you-sell sell options.

Then there are the regional operators (including eSentral, which is based in Malaysia).  Another key regional player is Thailand-based Ookbee.

Indonesia-based Scoop (LINK)  is a regional player and leads the way in expanding its service out of Indonesia.

Currently no western aggregators are dealing with Ookbee or Scoop.

StreetLib, PublishDirect, et al, if you’re reading this, please take a look at Scoop and Ookbee!

Then there are the domestic Indonesian players. Not just Scoop but NulisBuku, WayangForce (LINK), IndoBooks (LINK), Qbaca (LINK), etc.

NulisBuku was one of the pioneer self-publishing platforms in Indonesia and has a great website. (LINK)

For western indies it’s important to appreciate that, while it seems as if the West is leading the way and the rest of the world has to wait until Amazon’s KDP or Smashwords or another easy-load option arrives, the reality is self-publishing is taking off all over the world without them.

Those of us who sit back and wait until  Smashwords or D2D finally realise there is a global New Renaissance unfolding are going to find ourselves entering an overcrowded market if and when we finally do take the plunge.

NulisBuku may have been the first, but bigger players are now in the Indonesian self-publishing game. Gramediana, for example, which is part of the huge Indonesia media outfit Kompas Gramedia

And you’ll be delighted to know that Gramediana have an English-language site. (LINK)

Indonesia, like China and India, is not going to make any western indies superstars overnight, but for any indie author looking to be a truly international bestselling author these three countries should be not just on your radar, but on your Invest Time & Energy In Now list.

Sow the seeds now for future harvests.

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.

Bookmate Subscription Service Launches In Singapore

Go Global In 2014The Russian ebook subscription service Bookmate (LINK) has just launched in Singapore (LINK), as the first stage of its Asia-Pacific expansion.

As Amazon blocks downloads to Singapore there’s little chance of KU ever being available there, and Apple hasn’t got an iBooks store in the region either, but now Bookmate joins Scribd as a subscription service for readers in Singapore. And for those who prefer sales there’s always Google Play, Kobo and e-Sentral, as well as regional players like Ookbee.

Bookmate are partnered with Singapore digital operator Starhub, who already have their own domestic ebook store, Booktique. Or maybe that should be had, as we can’t seem to find it right now.

As we reported way back in October 2013 (LINK) one of the biggest problems for Singapore ebook stores has been publishers pricing at US levels in a country where living costs are price expectations are much lower.

Hopefully the subscription option, making accessible almost half a million titles, will help boost interest in ebooks in this small but significant English-speaking country.

As yet none of the free-to-upload distributors have partnered with Bookmate, so off-limits to most indies, although you can get in through Ebook Partnership

But Bookmate has extensive global reach, and is definitely one to watch.

The subscription model for ebooks is fine when used properly. Scribd and Bookmate are both excellent ways of reaching global readers in places where regular sales access is limited or unavailable.

Don’t let the disappointment that is KU colour your judgement about the subscription model in general and the potential it has for global reach. KU isn’t working for authors because Amazon is using it to cannibalize full-royalty sales. Other subscription models are not doing that.

When two roads diverge in the woods, take the one less travelled by. It will make all the difference.

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British Indie Authors Hit The # 1 Spot On Amazon China

Go Global In 2014

Regular readers will need no reminding how often we say the global ebook market is a golden opportunity right now, for those indies willing to step outside the box, leave the comfort zone of the home market, and embrace the opportunities laid at our feet by the digital revolution.

As we constantly stress, no-one can be everywhere, and no-one can do everything, but for the savvy author willing to take the long term view and work the global markets alongside the domestic ones there’s an open goal out there.

We repeatedly advocate indies to walk away from the us-and-them divide that creates an artificial  literary apartheid between indies and trad-pub, and for indies to partner with “local” publishers in overseas markets to maximise their reach.

Ana as we’ve also often said here, it’s just a matter of time before some western indie breaks out in a foreign land and becomes an in-store chart-buster in the bigger nascent markets.

That time has come.

Number One China!!!

This week the British writing partnership of Mark Williams and Sarah Griffiths, writing together as “Saffina Desforges”, took the number one spot on Amazon’s Kindle China site. The Chinese translation of their British blockbuster hit Sugar & Spice bumped such inscrutable names as JK Rowling/Robert Galbraith along the way.

The book has previously topped the charts in France in 2013, and before that on Amazon UK and Waterstone’s in 2011, when it was not only the biggest selling indie title but the eleventh best-selling ebook in the country.

Now they’ve conquered China, and have India, Indonesia and the rest of the world in their sights.

A UK or US publisher behind them? In fact the book that has sold a quarter million copies in the UK alone was rejected by every major British and American publisher.

Innovative publishers in France and China, who both approached the authors, took a different view, and have both been rewarded handsomely.

Unsurprisingly, many indie author don’t even know there is a Kindle China store. Kindle China is not run as part of KDP (you won’t find even a hint of the Chinese Kindle store in your KDP dashboard) and while some KDP titles do appear there, most don’t. No, we have no idea why.

How big is Kindle China? That’s another unknown.

The Chinese ebook market is often said to be the second biggest after the US. That seems very likely given the population in China and the doubted interest in ebooks, but most observers accept the Kindle China store is not one of the major players. The largest store is believed to be JD.

Neither Apple, Google Play nor Kobo have an ebook presence in China (unless you count Hong Kong and Taiwan) and Amazon of course keeps its numbers to itself, but we are reliably informed the #1 spot on Kindle China typically turns over around 2,000 sales a day.

Not to be sneezed at. But before jumping to conclusions about the size of the Chinese ebook market bear in mind both JD and Douban are probably much bigger than Kindle CN.

And needless to say the Saffina Desforges authors, because they follow closely the advice we give here on the EBUK blog, not just on Kindle China. Thanks to their Chinese publisher they are also riding high in the charts on China’s biggest ebook store, JD, and on rival stores like Douban.

No, they’re not getting 70% (if Kindle China even pays that much), or anywhere near.

But as we say here often, x-percent of something is a thousand times better than 100% of nothing, and making headway as a fanatical indie in a market as alien as China is a road to despair. China is one of the hardest markets to access as a western self-published author, although as we’ve explored in previous posts, the demand for English-language books in China is high. (LINK)

Which is why we strongly advocate partnerships with overseas publishers or overseas translators.

A good “local” publisher (be aware there are good and bad, just like back home – do your homework!) will have good relations with local retailers and have a full distribution arrangement. And of course they’ll get the best possible translation done.

Alternatively, partner with a translator on a percentage basis. Yes, you can pay up front and get a translation done yourself and pocket all the proceeds from sales. But unless you are then able to market and distribute effectively in that foreign land and in that foreign language then it’s unlikely you will see many returns on your investment.

Paying a translator a percentage per sale to distribute and market the book gives them an incentive to not just do the best possible translation but also to do their utmost to see the book succeed afterwards.

~

 Here at EBUK our blog posts often meet with the response, “But I haven’t time,” “it’s all too much effort” and “the nascent markets are pie in the sky – I want to see statistics and proof that these markets will deliver”.

Yes, but we somehow find time to write that book to the best of our ability, edit it, proof it, format it, cover it and distribute it to the domestic retailers, all of which takes months or even years. Why do we then baulk at adding a few more hours to maximise our global reach?

As for waiting for proof the nascent markets can deliver… Do be serious.

Here’s the thing: The US was a nascent market in 2009-10.

Imagine if John Locke, Amanda Hocking, Joe Konrath et al had sat on the fence and waited until there was firm evidence Kindle US and Apple US and Nook were going to pay off before they put their books out.

The UK market was nascent in 2010-11. Imagine if the Saffina Desforges partnership or the hugely successful partnership of Mark Edwards and Louise Voss has sat back and waited until there was firm evidence the UK market could deliver.

It’s exactly the same with the global markets now at the nascent stage.

Wake up and smell the coffee!

We are the luckiest generation of writers ever to have lived! We are not just witnesses to, but participants in, a global New Renaissance quite unprecedented in human history.

Yet many of us are still partying like it’s 2009.

Indonesia? India? China? Here at EBUK we’ve identified these countries as the most exciting prospects on the planet for authors, yet we’re being told it’s pie in the sky. No western author and their western books with western setting and western characters are going to sell well in these countries, no matter how well translated. You’d have to be JK Rowling or Stephen King to even get noticed.

Really? Then how did a translation of a British crime novel, set in the UK, that has neither a UK nor a US publisher behind it, hit the number one spot on Amazon’s Kindle China store this week?

Back in 2009-11 windows of opportunity were few and far between.

As 2014 draws to a close there are more windows of opportunity open than at any time. But windows of opportunity don’t stay open forever.

As we enter 2015, how many windows of opportunity will you be looking through?

 

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Google Play Launches Another Four New Ebook Stores. Amazon Still Thinking About One.

Go Global In 2014

While rumours abound that Amazon has a Kindle Netherlands store on the way, Google Play is busy doing what it does best: adding more international ebook stores to its already impressive global list.

Or at least it is about to. The Digital Reader reports (LINK) that Google Play has added the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania to its list, along with the Ukraine.

The stores aren’t fully live yet, but when they are it will take Google Play’s total country-dedicated international ebook stores to 61 – substantially ahead of Apple’s 51, the twenty or so ‘txtr sites (Latin America additions still pending) and Amazon’s dozen Kindle stores.

Comparing the Apple and Google Play lists is instructive.

Apple iBooks stores:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia,
Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica,
Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic,
Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France,
Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary,
Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg,
Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua,
Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland,
Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain,
Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom,
United States, Venezuela.

Google Play Books ebook stores:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia,
Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica,
Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador,
Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala,
Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia,
Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia,
Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama,
Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal,
Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea,
Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand,
Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States,
Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam.

While Apple has a very solid presence in Asia, and its devices sell in the millions there, Asia is for some reason all but devoid of iBooks store. Across the whole of the continent, Apple has just one solitary iBooks store, in Japan.

By contrast Google Play serves Hong Kong, India, Indonesia,
Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea,
Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.

Amazon obviously has Kindle stores serving India and Japan, and a token presence in China. but for the rest of Asia Amazon may as well not exist, as downloads are blocked there.

The only other easy access to Asian ebook stores for western indie authors are Kobo (but only for the Philippines and Japan), e-Sentral (direct upload, or via Bookbaby or Ebook Partnership) or Magzter (via Ebook Partnership).

Which makes Google Play the essential place to be for any indie authors wanting to reach readers on the world’s largest and most populated continent.

The much-rumoured Kindle Netherlands and Kindle Russia stores may, hopefully, yet materialize. Apple, Google Play, Kobo and ‘txtr have all long ago managed to come to an arrangement with Dutch publishers, and Google Play is already in Russia.

But as we’ve expressed before, Amazon’s Kindle stores run on print rails. And they do themselves little favour by imposing surcharges on ebook buyers in countries prior to opening Kindle stores.

The Netherlands already has a well-established domestic ebook store in Bol, and the recent partnership of Bol and Kobo will only strengthen Bol’s clear dominance of the burgeoning Dutch ebook market.

A market Amazon could have been nurturing by the simple expedient of letting international buyers download ebooks without surcharges.

Why doesn’t it? Ours is not to reason why.

But on the other hand, why not. Here’s one possible reason.

Trad-pubbed ebooks come to Amazon with strict territorial rights, reflecting the print editions.

As said above, Amazon Kindle stores run on print rails. The Kindle stores are driven by trad-pub interests, not indie ebooks.

Indie authors, as we see time and time again (how many years has it taken for us indies to get the pre-order option?), are an afterthought. Even when indie titles provide the bulk of a service, as with Kindle Unlimited, it’s the trad pubbed titles (and the Amazon imprint titles) that are showcased. The rest of us are just padding.

With its brand-recognition and international reach Amazon could have been bringing many indie authors a significant secondary income from international ebook sales outside the Kindle zone countries. Instead it surcharges readers, so most go elsewhere.

Your $4.99 ebook in the USA will cost a reader in the Netherlands or Poland or Sweden $6.99. Amazon will pay you just a 35% royalty on the $4.99 and pocket the rest. Your free ebook in the US will still cost a reader in these other countries $2. And no, you won’t see a cent of that either.

Curiously, as we’ve seen with Kindle France, Kindle Germany, Kindle Brazil, etc, as soon as Amazon gets a good deal with trad pub and has enough titles to open a Kindle store the surcharges miraculously disappear.

All the while it was just indie titles available in these countries Amazon was happy to deter interest, in the full knowledge readers will be signing up with rival stores.

So long as this policy remains in force Amazon will continue to be a bit player on the international ebook scene outside of the handful of Kindle countries.

The others?

‘Txtr is a plucky little store with ambition and stamina, but little hope of making a significant impact. Nice to be part of, but it won’t make any authors rich.

Kobo is broad in reach and lots of potential, but as yet Rakuten have not put their muscle behind it. When they do that will make all the difference

Until then, pending entrance of the eastern players like Alibaba, and the possible purchase of Nook next year, the global ebook market will be either carved up between Apple and Google, or left to Google. At the moment it looks like the latter.

No indications Apple is looking seriously at further global iBook stores. Which is tragic because there are literally hundreds of millions of iDevices out there globally that could have our ebooks on.

On the bright side iBooks stores are now coming as default installations on iDevices, which may be a precursor to a more serious approach to ebooks by Apple. Fingers crossed on that one.

But for now, even if Amazon pulls it off and launches Kindle Netherlands and Kindle Russia stores, Google Play remains the best bet for an international writing career.

http://the-digital-reader.com/2014/09/24/google-play-books-launches-estonia-latvia-lithuania-ukraine/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheDigitalReader+%28The+Digital+Reader%29#.VCPFWpRdUsc

 

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the BBC Is Now On Line. No, Not On-Line. On LINE!

Go Global In 2014

The BBC Is Now On Line.

No, not on-line. On LINE.

As in, Line, the Japanese messenger service we mentioned here a few days ago (LINK) as an ideal way to promote your ebooks in foreign lands.

In the past week the BBC has begun using Line to promote news in countries including India, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

In just said past week the BBC has already picked up over 80,000 followers. And yes, the BBC is messaging to all these countries is in English.

The BBC has also been using the hugely popular social media services WeChat and WhatsApp in India for nearly six months.

The BBC thinks these messaging and social media services are a great way to reach people overseas. So do we.

And for reasons explained in the previous post (linked above), your existing Facebook and twitter accounts are not best suited to finding readers in foreign lands.

The global ebook market is already bigger than most people imagine, and is growing by the day.  But we indies need to be willing to step outside our comfort zones if we want to be part of it.

Just like with selling ebooks back home, being there is unquestionably half the battle.

Letting readers know you are there is a big part of the other half.

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Almost Two Billion. That’s How Many People On The Planet Could Be Reading Your Ebooks.

Go Global In 2014

As we love to remind you here at EBUK, every single smartphone and tablet around the world is a potential recipient for your ebooks, and the number of people who have them is getting bigger and bigger by the day.

Currently almost TWO BILLION people on the planet have smartphones.

And that number is about to get even bigger as Google launches its Android One programme – with a mission to bring affordable smartphones to the FIVE BILLION people on the planet currently without a device.

Over the next couple of years the potential readership of your ebooks is going to grow exponentially as Android One partners – including some of the biggest device manufacturers on the planet, such as Lenova, HTX, Acer and Asus – to bring affordable smartphones to the developing world.

As we often say here, we regard India and SE Asia – and in particular China, Indonesia and the Philippines – as key growth areas for ebooks we should all be targeting. And as we reported here (LINK) the demand for English-language books in these countries is clear.

It’s no coincidence that Google’s Android One launched this week in India, and next on the list is Indonesia and the Philippines, with Pakistan and Bangladesh to follow, as well as Sri Lanka and tiny Nepal. And an Android One roll-out globally in 2015.

But hold on. Did we say “tiny” Nepal? This wonderful country may indeed be a tiny smudge on the world map, but with a population of 28 million it has more people than Australia, and almost as many as Canada!

Sri Lanka? Just behind Australia, but still five times more people than New Zealand!

The Philippines? The Philippines has more English speakers than the UK has people!

So has Pakistan, where English is the official language. Total population in Pakistan is 180 million.

Bangladesh comes in just behind Pakistan with 160 million people. English is not so widely spoken here but still very widespread.

Indonesia has 250 million people. Twenty per cent of Facebook users in Indonesia conduct their business in English, suggesting the English-language is very widely used in this beautiful country.

Smartphone penetration is still low is many of these countries. But even so, the numbers are surprising. Take this snapshot of SE Asia:

33m people in Vietnam are already using smartphones (LINK). 32 million in Thailand. 15m in the Philippines. 23 million in Malaysia. In Indonesia only 23% of the population currently use smartphones, but that’s almost 60 million people – close to the entire population of the UK!

Apple is big – very big – in Vietnam and Indonesia, but until they open iBooks stores in these countries it’s not relevant to us as indie authors. Fortunately for us the big growth in smartphones across the region is Android-driven, and that means Google.

Obviously global Google’s mission isn’t primarily about ebooks, but as Google have already shown with their rapid expansion of the Google Play Books store to 57 countries, ebooks are a key part of the equation. Google Play already has ebook stores in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. Expect Google Play ebook stores for Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal in the not too distant future.

As Google said on their blog this week (LINK)

“Knowledge is a game changer. I’ve long been inspired by the Internet and how it opens the doors to opportunity. It provides access to knowledge, no matter who you are or where you are. For instance, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Nobel Laureate at a world-class research center or a young student at a rural school in Indonesia, with Google Search, you have the same information at your fingertips as anyone else.”

Of course, the difference between the Nobel Laureate in the world class research centre and the student in a rural school in Indonesia is that the former will be able to buy your ebooks very easily from a western retailer. But apart from Google Play there are no western retailers who will even give Indonesian readers the time of day.

Amazon completely blocks downloads to most of SE Asia. Even Apple, which is hugely popular in the region, has yet to make its iBooks store available in Asia apart from Japan.

Tim Cook, wake up and smell the coffee! Apple and Google are the only two companies currently capable of creating truly global ebook retail franchise, but Tim, you seem happy to hand the opportunity over to Google. Take the iBooks store seriously!

Pending Apple getting their act together, there are other options for indie authors to reach the SE Asia market. Malaysian-based E-Sentral, for instance, which serves not just Malaysia but also Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and tiny Brunei. And there are many “local” retailers like Ookbee and Scoop, though getting into these is not easy at this stage.

For the record, you can go to E-Sentral direct, or use Bookbaby or Ebook Partnership.

But for most of us Google Play remains by far our best bet for reaching readers not just in SE Asia but also across the vast regions of the world that Amazon either blocks, surcharges or makes payments difficult.

Payments are one of the key sticking points for global expansion, and Google understands this. Expanding their range of payment options to suit local needs (glocalization) is a top priority for Google (LINK), who already offer a diverse range of payment options quite aside from credit cards, which most of the world’s population do not have. Carrier billing, Paypal, gift cards and other options and local payment processing such as over-the-counter payments are all on the Google agenda.

And these will all help potential readers buy our ebooks. If they are available.

At risk of sparking another bout of “anti-Amazon” cries, it needs repeating here, because so many indie authors think that when you tick world rights box in the KDP dashboard, that huge list of countries means that your ebooks will be available in all these places. It doesn’t.

The simple fact is if you are exclusive with Amazon you are not going to reach digital readers in these exciting nascent markets because Amazon – the “world’s biggest bookstore” – blocks downloads to these countries. And no, there is absolutely zero chance Amazon will be opening Kindle stores there in the future.

But here’s the thing. Unless you are in Select you can sell on Amazon and still enjoy the reach of Google Play.

And for those who have tried and given up because of the frustrating experience that was the Google Play self-pub portal, note the use of the past tense there. Google Play has just upgraded their self-pub portal to make it a far easier experience.

Get your ebooks in the 57 Google Play stores (LINK) and grab a ride on Google’s Android One programme.

We often talk about a New Renaissance.  That we are witness to, and participating in, a global renaissance unparalleled in human history.

Just take another glance back over the countries mentioned above. Five years ago smartphones, for all practical purposes, did not exist. Digital reading was, for all practical purposes, non-existent outside of  a handful of rich western nations, and the limited availability and high cost of print books meant reading was a privilege of the elite.

The chance of any author finding a readership for their English-language tiles in Vietnam or Indonesia was limited to having print books left  by tourist when they headed homes.

Digital has changed everything.

Digital democratizes the world, and for those indie authors willing to grasp the nettle, we can now reach readers almost anywhere on the planet.

And with every new smartphone out there that’s another device they could be reading your ebooks on.

If you are available.

How available are your ebooks?

 

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