Tag Archives: Draft2Digital

The Thirty Minute Upload Workout – Going Wide Needn’t Be A Chore.

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And no, despite the image, this is not a self-promo Buy My Book post!

When it comes to finding the path of least resistance we indies have it down to a fine art.

Even though all logic dictates that, unless we have a sweetheart deal with a retailer, being available as widely as possible is the best long-term career move we can make, it seems many indies will nonetheless convince ourselves it’s all soooo much effort that we’re better off just signing up to Select and crossing our fingers.

NB: This isn’t an anti-Select post. Select is a great tool and used wisely can bring its own rewards, but we should never chose an option simply because it’s quick and easy, or because we see big-name authors doing well in Select but who may well have special deals like White Glove, etc that are why they are doing so well when so many regular indies are not.

Especially when it’s so quick and easy to go from being just in Amazon’s dozen stores to being in 400-500 stores worldwide, and still be in those same dozen Amazon stores as well.

How quick and easy?

Continue reading

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

"Excellent Performance In Latin America And Double-Digit Growth In Ebook Sales" Says Penguin Random House. How Seriously Are You Taking The Latin American Ebook Scene?

The Guadalajara International Book Fair in Mexico is fast approaching. It’s the biggest Spanish-language book fair in the world, and this year its bigger than ever.

Edward Nawotka at Publishing Perspectives reports that the Guadalajara Rights Center – a meeting place for publishers to exchange foreign-language rights – has sold out its 125 table several months in advance, a sure sign of trad pub’s growing interest in the region. (LINK)

Trad pub understands the global New Renaissance, and is preparing to rake in the cash from it.

Remember how the Indie Old Guard used to tell us trad pub were just rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic? Penguin Random House (PRH) this month reported parent company Bertelsmann has seen its highest revenues since 2007 thanks in large part to PRH’s expanded global reach. (LINK).

PRH reported “excellent performance in Latin America and double-digit growth in e-book sales (that) more than offset the ongoing challenges in the Spanish book market,”

The Latin-American market is getting VERY exciting and anyone not thinking about Spanish translations right now is crazy.

For indie authors one of the biggest problems has been distribution in Latin America. Amazon has stores in Mexico and Brazil, but the rest of Latin America is surcharged by Amazon. Apple, Google Play and Kobo are there however, In fact, as reported here (LINK) there’s a new ebook megastore, Orbile, opening in Mexico this month, and Kobo is handling its ebooks.

But there are are also countless “local” ebook retailers in Latin America. And it’s not terribly difficult to get into them.

No, Smashwords and Draft2Digital won’t get you into the domestic Latin American retailers, but at least one English-language aggregator is taking Latin America seriously. And that’s StreetLib (LINK). A full report on

accessing Latin America soon.

Meantime, if you haven’t yet dipped your toes into the translation waters check out these two posts (LINK) and (LINK) on how to get started.

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

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

 

Sorry, Smashwords. There's Now An *Easier* Way To Get Into The OverDrive Libraries.

In a new blow to both US-based pay-as-you-sell aggregator Smashwords and UK-based pay-up-front aggregator Ebook Partnership, there’s now another way into the OverDrive global library catalogue.

Italy-based aggregator StreetLib will from September 15 be delivering Streetlib titles to OverDrive’s 33,000 partner libraries across 50 countries.

With Flipkart gone, the OverDrive libraries distribution option was one of the few reasons left to be putting titles into Smashwords.

But last month I spent far too much time trying to upload titles to Smashwords only to see them rejected straight away, sat waiting days to be approved (the exact same title would be selling on Apple in hours through Draft2Digital) or rejected days later after review. Titles with validated epubs that Smashwords rejects, yet that somehow manage to sail through Draft2Digital and into the exact same stores Smashwords says won’t accept them.

I’ve yet to have a title rejected by StreetLib

For OverDrive library access I’ll be loading all my new titles via StreetLib. I have to use them anyway to get them into Google Play (no direct access to Google Play from here even when the portal is working) which neither Smashwords nor Draft2Digital supply.

StreetLib also get you into myriad other stores Smashwords and Draft2Digital are not supplying.

Stores like El Corte Ingles in Spain, for example. Here’s one of my titles in ECI through StreetLib. (LINK)

StreetLib also gets your titles into the fast-growing global subscription service Bookmate.

Check out the StreetLib self-pub portal here. (LINK)

If you have your own epubs it’s free to upload.

And it’s in English, despite being Italian, Unlike Smashwords and Draft2Digi9tal StreetLib understands not everyone speaks English and so the site has eight language options, making it very easy to navigate.

Make sure StreetLib is part of your going global upload routine.

Getting In To Google Play (It's Still Possible!)

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The View From The Beach:

Mark Williams At Large

With the Google Play self-pub portal still down (LINK) I’ve been getting tons of queries about whether this is a block on indies, or a genuine issue with the portal.

Safe to say it seems a genuine issue with the portal. Why Google seem in no hurry to fix it is another question, but I can confirm indies can still get titles live on Google Play today.

The big US aggregators Smashwords and Draft2Digital do not have deals with Google Play, and it looks like they never will (payment model incompatibilities) but there are alternatives.

The British aggregator Ebook Partnership will get you into Google Play, but theirs is pay-up-front service, and while there are sound reasons for going this route, it’s not the best option if you expect low sales levels or are just wanting access to a handful of stores.

Bookrix will get you in to, but they appear to have an all or nothing retail outlet option and an unimpressive list of outlets anyway.

But there are two very nice pay-as-you-sell aggregators in Europe – Xin-Xii and Narcissus, that will also get you into Google Play.

Yesterday I used the Narcissus portal StreetLib to upload a title to Google Play specifically to see if indie titles were still being allowed in through the aggregators while the direct portal is down.

And I’m delighted to be able to report they are! My title sailed through in less than 24 hours. So clearly the self-pub portal being down is not some ploy to block indies from listing in the store. Another great conspiracy theory bites the dust.

I’ll be doing a full report on StreetLib (Narcissus) for the EBUK blog soon, as part of a series on the aggregator options available, but meanwhile you can find it here. (LINK)

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

The View From The Beach – Mark Williams At Large

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EBUK blogger Mark Williams takes a personal look back over recent developments on the global ebook scene.

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Never mind audio-books. Say hello to smelly books. Smell-e-books, that is.

It had to happen. Ebooks that you can sniff.

A company called Vapor Communications has been testing smelly text messages for a while – no, seriously – and is now ready to apply the technology to ebooks. (LINK)

Not quite sure what they have in mind – food smells for your cookery books? Coffee smells for your series sponsored by Nescafe? Lots of opportunities to get boys reading with the smell-e-book version of Captain Underpants complete with fart smells and smelly skid-marks. As for bringing erotica ebooks to life with the pungent aroma of… No, let’s not even go there.

Or just maybe that wonderful bookstore smell you get when you first open a new print book. Now that would be a breakthrough.

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Romania has long been on my Ones-To-Watch list for Europe, and Publishing Perspectives had a report this past week on one of Romania’s biggest online bookstores, Okian, which saw a 30% increase in sales last year.

I haven’t worked out how to get into Okian yet (they sell both print and digital) but a quick perusal of the store  (LINK) shows the prominence Okian gives to English-language titles. In the Publishing Perspectives report Okian’s CEO Tudor Benga confirms English-language titles are a big growth area for Okian.

Does this mean we’ll all sell more books in Romania? Yes and no.

At risk of being slammed for being anti-Amazon again it has to be noted that Amazon are busily surcharging Romanian readers, so your $2.99 ebook will cost a reader in Bucharest $4.99 plus currency exchange fees. You’ll get paid just 35% of the $2.99 if you do get a sale.

Luckily you can reach Romanian readers through Google Play, Scribd and Apple. To see your books in the Apple iBooks Romania store just go to your Apple product page or preview page link and change the country code (US, GB, AU or whatever) to RO.

There are a good few local ebook stores too. Okian, obviously, and Elefant and Evobook are among the key players. Digital libraries are also doing well in Romania.  No easy access to Romanian ebook stores right now, but that will change. It’s early days. The global New Renaissance is still in first gear.

Romania, Hungary, Greece and Turkey are among the key players emerging in east and south-east Europe right now. These should be priorities for career-authors looking to partner with translators, partner with local publishers, or indeed to find a niche following in the English-language sector.

But the rest of Europe is proving very exciting too, with Poland a key player. Make sure you have your ebooks available in mobi as this format is very popular in Poland, where Poles are returning home from Germany and the UK with Kindle devices only to find they get surcharged by Amazon back home.

Germany of course is Europe’s sleeping giant for ebooks, and especially for English-language ebooks, along with the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark.

Not so hot for E-L titles but worth keeping an eye on for translation partnerships are Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, and also the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Small populations, but embracing digital fast.

And since we’re on the subject of Europe a reminder that Kobo is now getting titles back into the UK’s WH Smith store, so Kobo is back on track as a player in the UK, as well as taking a keen interest in indies in western Europe.

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Staying with Europe and English-language in Europe, click on this link to see an infographic of the percentage of people in the EU who can hold a conversation in English. It may surprise you. (LINK)

Of course holding a conversation and reading a book are not quite the same thing, but the stats are indicative of the high-regard English is held in as the lingua franca of the world.

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Having mentioned Kobo and WH Smith above, romance writers may be interested to know Kobo is running a competition in conjunction with Mills & Boon, with first prize a Mills & Boon published novel, in both digital and print, with full promo from both Kobo and WH Smith. (LINK)

The deadline is July 14th.

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WhatsApp has hit 800 million active users, with 100 million of them just since January. (LINK)

We’ve covered the messenger services a few times here at EBUK, and it’s a subject we’ll be returning to in-depth later. Here just a few quick observations.

WhatsApp is owned by Facebook but is a very different user experience from Facebook, and one largely ignored by indie authors. But these messenger services – along with the likes of Viber and Line, etc, etc, can, and are/will be key parts of our future promo scene. Ignore them at your peril.

With 800 million active users just on What’s App (equivalent to twice the population of the USA and UK combined) that’s a lot of people.

Re the mini-post above on English-speakers in the EU, chiming in at 90% was the Netherlands. It’s only very recently Amazon opened a Kindle NL store, and being so late to the party most indies are seeing little action, but Kobo now gets you into the biggest-by-far Dutch ebook store Bol.com, and the Tolino Alliance also distribute to the Netherlands, as do Txtr, Apple and of course Google Play.

According to this report (LINK) 8.7 million Dutch smartphone users have downloaded the WhatsApp app, and 90% of all female smartphone users in the Netherlands have downloaded WhatsApp.

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As we explored in a post here at EBUK back in September (LINK), we will all have noticed that we don’t get inundated by tweets and FB posts from people in the Netherlands, or Indonesia or Outer Mongolia, and with good reason. But it works both ways. Our tweets and FB posts, even if promoting ebooks aimed at these markets, simple don’t get seen by most of the world, or even most of our regular contacts.

The only realistic way to connect with the global readership is to reach out and make connections on the social media and messenger services where they are, not where you are.

Not easy, and outside our comfort zone, of course. To make matters worse, messenger services do not work in the same way as the “traditional” (or should we say legacy?) social media we are used to, so there’s a learning curve involved.

But don’t tune out just yet, or you may find yourself standing at the station when this train departs.

You only have to look at the way Rakuten is gearing up to use Viber as an e-commerce sales vehicle – with a strong focus on selling Kobo ebooks! – to understand that it can be done and is being done. More on Rakuten’s plans in a full post very shortly.

Meantime why not trying connecting with WhatsApp users in the Netherlands, where 90% will at least understand your English, and a good percentage may be interested in reading your English books and ebooks? From little acorns…

As ever we indies can move with the times, or stay safe and cozy in our indie boxes partying like its 2009.

Our choice. Our prospective loss. But nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Oh, and for those wondering what the top ten messenger apps are right now… (LINK)

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Indonesia Alert!

Facebook’s internet.org has just gone live in Indonesia. (LINK)

For those unfamiliar, internet.org is a free curated internet service featuring a couple of dozen key sites like Wikipedia, Wattpad, local government sites, health and employment sites, and of course Facebook.

The initiative is aimed at the net-disenfranchised who may have a smartphone but still cannot afford, or do not have the means to pay for, actual internet access. The internet.org connection is free.

Regulars here will know Indonesia is high on our watch-list as a big prospect for indie authors. Those using Wattpad might want to think about directing messages at Indonesian readers (20% of FB traffic in Indonesia is conducted in English!) to get yourselves known for when Indonesia moves to the next level. Today’s free-readers on Wattpad (accessible through internet.org) may be tomorrow’s paying customers that make you a best-selling author in Indonesia.

And while neither Apple nor Amazon sell ebooks in Indonesia, both Google Play and Scribd do.

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For those who speak/read German the long-awaited Tolino self-pub portal is now up and running. (LINK)

I’m both disappointed and surprised there is no English-language option on the site, given the pan-European nature of Tolino and that is it, apparently, open to all EU members to use direct (presumably a payments and tax issue).

Germany’s Xin-Xii and Italy’s Narcissus both understand the value of the “international” language that is English. Hopefully an E-L option for the Tolino site will follow soon.

Meantime, for those like me who are linguistically challenged Tolino is easily accessible via Draft2Digital and Xin-Xii.

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Rakuten wrapped up its buy-out of OverDrive this past week.

I’m a big fan of OverDrive and delighted Rakuten have taken over the operation. OverDrive are best known as the world’s largest library distributor, and I’ve been enjoying global library traffic through OverDrive for many years.

But OverDrive also supply a number of retail outlets, including key players like Waterstone’s in the UK and Kalahari in South Africa.

Rakuten have intimated there are no immediate plans to make changes at OverDrive, so business as usual for now, but it will be interesting to see what Rakuten has in mind longer-term.

With the Rakuten CEO’s plans to make Kobo ebooks a central part of the Rakuten Viber e-commerce venture it’s very clear ebooks and digital media in general is going to play a big part in Rakuten’s future.

Forward-thinking indies would do well to be fully engaged with both of Rakuten’s current ebook outlets. You can go direct to Kobo via Kobo Writing Life. OverDrive sn’t so easy to access, but the British aggregator Ebook Partnership will get your titles into both the OverDrive libraries and the OverDrive retailers.

For non-erotica indies you can get your titles into the overdrive libraries via Smashwords. The much-screamed-about “indie ghetto” at OverDrive is history, but it’s still a tortuous process gong via Smashwords.

A few days ago it was announced one of OverDrive’s library competitors, Ingram’s MyiLibrary, was being acquired by Proquest. I’d been trying to dig up some background on this without much success when, Nate at Ink, Bits & Pixels (formerly The Digital Reader) usurped my plan and ran a post this morning on this very subject. (LINK)

It’s well worth reading Nate’s post for some speculation on Proquest’s future plans.

Meantime I’m left wondering how indies will be able to get content into MyiLibrary now it is separate from Ingram.

Hopefully a savvy operator like Draft2Digital will step in. D2D have recently signed up with Tolino, and as aggregators go they show a lot of promise, but with neither Smashwords nor D2D yet to secure a deal with Google Play (both Italy’s Narcissus and Germany’s Xin-Xii have, as has Britain’s Ebook Partnership) it may well be that one of the European aggregators takes the lead here too.

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Back in 2013 here on the EBUK blog we speculated that ebooks would soon come with a QR code on breakfast cereal packets and ketchup bottles. Well, we’re still waiting to see ebooks on ketchup bottles, but the innovative British ebook retailer and supermarket chain Sainsbury had ebooks on its own-brand cereal packets just a few months later, and in April 2015 Simon & Schuster joined the cereal club with a deal to promote ebooks on Cheerios packets. (LINK)

By no means the only example of Europe being literally years ahead of America with digital. Just think ebooks on planes, trains and buses, or indeed subscription services.

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Not for everybody, but for those who write about finances, money and business, this new report from K-lytics is very useful reading. (LINK)

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I’m often asked which blogs and such I’d recommend to keep ahead of the ebook game and spot the trends before they become the next overcrowded bandwagon to jump on.

In fact it’s a broad mixture of publishing-industry blogs, tech blogs and finance blogs that collectively give the bigger picture.

So over the coming weeks I’ll take a look at a few must-read sites and discuss their good and bad points. Starting today with GalleyCat.

GalleyCat gets singled out for being one of the most irritating of the industry blogs.

Not that it’s all bad, of course. If you want the latest trad pub news then GalleyCat is as good as any, but GalleyCat also purports to be on top of the indie scene. Yet it rarely shows it is anything of the sort.

Take the weekly best-selling self-published titles report they reel out. (LINK)

This is a great idea in principle, but guys, first you need to understand what the key self-publishing sales platforms are, and clearly you don’t.

In GaleyCat’s own words, “To help GalleyCat readers discover self-published authors, we compile weekly lists of the top eBooks in three major marketplaces for self-published digital books: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.”

Er, guys, I hate to break this to you but Smashwords is a major self-published authors’ distributor. An aggregator. That it happens to sell ebooks as a sideline service does not in any way, shape or form make it “a major marketplace” for indie ebooks. Most non-writer readers have never heard of Smashwords.

If you want to produce a meaningful list try comparing the top indie titles across Amazon, Nook, Apple, Scribd, Oyster, Kobo and Google Play.

To see just how meaningless the current list is, just take a look at the top three self-published bestsellers from Amazon and Smashwords. I leave you to decide which store is which. Somehow I doubt you’ll have brain-hernia working it out.

Store 1:

  1. The Mistake (Off Campus Book 2)by Elle Kennedy
  2. Chanceby Deborah Bladon
  3. The Mad Tatterby J.M. Darhower

Store 2:

  1. Cognitive Activity Design: Designing Creative Activities and Art-Based Projects That Promote Brain Health and FlourishingBy Michael C. Patterson
  2. Negotiating for Success: Essential Strategies and SkillsBy George J. Siedel
  3. Strong Brains, Sharp Minds: The Definitive Guide to the MINDRAMP Method For Brain Health & Mental DevelopmentBy Michael C. Patterson & Roger Anunsen

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While the indie world is obsessing about Amazon’s drone programme, Jeff Bezos is quietly getting on with something far more exciting – a space programme. This isn’t part of Amazon, but one of Bezos’s many private ventures.

His private space company Blue Origin successfully launched its first space rocket at the end of April, taking the world a step closer to passenger space travel. (LINK)

Bezos is no stranger to space. Two years ago his private exploration operation recovered the Saturn 5 rocket engines that launched Apollo 11. (LINK)

I often get slammed for being “anti-Amazon” for suggesting that everything Jeff Bezos does at Amazon is not in fact done for the sole benefit of indie authors. But as a child of the Apollo programme, when it comes to Uncle Jeff’s space endeavours I love them all!

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

Draft2Digital Now Distributes To The Tolino Alliance. Smashwords Beginning To Look Jaded.

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Draft2Digital just took another leap ahead of Smashwords as it introduced the Tolino Alliance stores to its repertoire.

Regulars will know we’ve waxed lyrical about Tolino many times. It’s an alliance of ebook retailers in several countries – Germany, Netherlands, Austria and Belgium – with a collective market share heading towards 45% in Germany, which puts it ahead of Amazon.

Germany is the biggest western book market after the US (ebooks not so much, but coming on fast) and the biggest English-language market after the UK. Yes, bigger than Canada and Australia!

Most indies haven’t seen much action in Germany because most indies are only there through Amazon, Apple and Kobo. Meantime the Tolino stores have been mopping up sales.

Now, thanks to D2D, your E-L titles can be in the Tolino stores across Europe. A full post on the latest with Tolino soon.

Throw in territorial pricing, monthly payments, great reports and a very smooth interface that you can upload scripts direct to and get a tolerable epub conversion (not recommended – it won’t win any prizes – but far easier than going through the Meatgrinder) and it’s yet another reason to make D2D your primary aggregator.

Smashwords still has some irons in the fire. Flipkart, Txtr and the OverDrive library catalogue for example. But where they overlap then, unless you already selling well through Smashwords (in which case a move would lose your momentum), it really would make sense to focus on D2D and use Smashwords as the secondary means of distribution.

Congrats to D2D for reaching out to Tolino. Google Play next, guys? That would really set you a world apart from the rest.

Smashwords maybe the biggest indie outlet right now, but for how much longer?

And Ebook Partnership, another of your jewels has just been stolen. You really need to move to a pay-as-you-sell model. The USPs you still have, great as they are, simply do not justify the annual fees anymore.

Ebook Bargains UK

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Far more than just the UK.

Draft2Digital Territorial Pricing Option Now Live!

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Sorry, Smashwords, but rival aggregator Draft2Digital (D2D) just took another big leap forward today as its territorial pricing options went live in the D2D dashboard.

Instead of just setting a US dollar price for your ebooks loaded through D2D you can now price for each country/territory. For Europe, no need to worry about adjusting for VAT. D2D does that for you and include VAT in the list price you set. But do remember that the net price your “royalty” is based on will be the VAT-exclusive price, not the list price the reader pays.

You can act now and update your pricing on existing books in D2D simply by opening a product listing page at “publishing”. Below the US price box you’ll find a button to select territorial prices.

And (we’ll get accused of Amazon-bashing for this but facts are facts) it leaves Amazon’s KDP standing.

You can set prices in euros and pounds sterling, of course, and Indian rupees and Brazilian reals, and Mexican pesos and Australian and Canadian dollars, and Japanese yen, just like on Amazon.

But you can also set prices in New Zealand dollars and Hong Kong dollars.

And in Danish and Norwegian krone, and Swedish krona.

And even in Swiss francs.

It isn’t stated, but our guess is these territorial prices will feed through to Apple and Kobo (and Nook UK), and possibly the Page Foundry sites like Inktera and Versent. The Scribd feed from D2D is only for the subscription service.

Yes, it’s more effort for you, poor souls, but it won’t take long and only needs doing once. And so worth doing.

Set your titles cheap for places like Hong Hong, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, etc, where Amazon has no store so can’t play the pernicious MFN card. Take full advantage to find new readers in new places. Run special promos in Sweden and Switzerland. Offer a special deal to Danish readers. Let buyers in New Zealand pay in their own currency at a great price.

What a great way for D2D to end the year,

Needless to say we’re happier than a lamb with two tails. Guess what we’ll be doing this afternoon. 

Ebook Bargains UK

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Far more than just the UK.

OverDrive And WH Smith Updates

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OverDrive

While not all of the promised 200,000+ Smashwords titles are showing in the public OverDrive catalogue, some 157,000 are, so if you are with Smashwords and opted in to the OverDrive distribution channel there’s a good chance some or all of your titles will be available.

OverDrive is the world’s biggest library supplier for digital content, not just in the US but across Europe and the UK, in Australia and New Zealand, and in places as improbable as China.

Check the site (LINK) to see if your titles are showing. And if they are, copy the links to your websites, promo packages, etc, and make sure people know! Digital libraries are big business. OverDrive alone saw over one hundred million digital downloads in 2013.

NB The Smashwords-OverDrive deal only covers OverDrive libraries, not OverDrive’s retail outlets.

W H Smith

WH Smith is the Kobo partner outlet that famously kicked out all indies last year following a scandal in the UK over some unsavoury titles appearing in the ebook store.

WH Smith is the second biggest b&m book store and the biggest newsagent and stationer in the UK. Kobo devices and the Kobo ebook store are prominently displayed in the bigger WH Smith stores, so losing the Kobo-WH Smith outlet was a blow to indies selling in Britain.

A year on and indies are back, but still filtering through. We can say with confidence more and more titles are appearing.

We still cannot say with confidence that all indie aggregators are getting titles in.

So far – and this may be pure coincidence based on our limited survey pool – we are not seeing any titles in WH Smith uploaded via Draft2Digital. Titles via Smashwords, Ebook Partnership and Kobo Writing Life are there.

Currently about 30,000 Smashwords titles are back in WH Smith. No idea how many Smashwords titles are opted in to Kobo, but guessing a lot more than that, so probably lots more to filter through.

Are D2D titles being allowed back in too? We can’t imagine why not, but as yet we have no evidence that they are. Hopefully someone out there can allay our fears and report their D2D titles are in WH Smith.

You can visit the W H Smith ebook site from outside the UK (unlike the Kobo UK site) to check if you are there. (LINK)

Ebook Bargains UK

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Self-Published Ebooks Return To W H Smith

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A year after the British ebook retailer and high street bookseller W H Smith banned self-published titles from its cyber-shelves, we’re delighted to report indie titles are back.

It’s not clear yet what is being allowed in, as so few titles are showing, but those that are include titles uploaded direct via Kobo Writing Life and titles uploaded to Kobo through Smashwords.

As yet we are not seeing titles uploaded to Kobo via Draft 2Digital, Bookbaby and other aggregators, but that probably reflects our small sampling quota, not policy.

So far we’ve been unable to elicit a response from W H Smith or Kobo, and unless we’ve missed something there’s been no official announcement, but this is surely great news for the indie movement.

Back in late 2013, following the tabloid media drawing attention to a number of unsanitized self-published titles in the W H Smith ebook store courtesy of Kobo, both W H Smith and Kobo’s New Zealand partner store Whitcoulls closed their ebook stores, while Kobo removed all self-published titles from its catalogue.

W H Smith re-opened their ebook store with not a self-published title anywhere to be seen. Whitcoulls briefly re-opened with a small selection of self-pub titles but then closed shop completely and now do not sell ebooks at all.

Kobo allowed a curated selection of self-published ebooks back into its stores, but none were getting through to W H Smith.

Until now.

It seemed for a long while like W H Smith was just going to carry on with just trad-pubbed titles. So what made them change their mind?

Neither W H Smith nor Kobo are saying.

Originally W H Smith said self-published titles would be banned until Kobo could offer assurances about the quality of titles being put through. Are we to believe it took a full year for Kobo to meet that criteria? We think not. Kobo put its own house in order very quickly.

More likely is that W H Smith was, in the fullness of time, able to see the financial impact of having no self-published titles selling, while looking on enviously as other UK ebook retailers raked in the indie cash.

While good news, this still leaves two mainstream UK ebook stores off-limits to indie authors.

Neither Sainsbury nor Blinkbox allow self-pubbed titles, but in fairness that has more to do with their structural set-up than a policy decision to bar indies per se. Both Blinkbox and Sainsbury deal direct with the big publishers rather than go through a middleman like Kobo as W H Smith does.

Will Blinkbox and Sainsbury open up to indie titles in the future. Our guess is yes.

Sainsbury area sensible lot, and while they have the convenience of their current trad-pub set up through Anobii, they will be acutely aware of the money indie titles could be bringing in on top.

Blinkbox? Blinkbox is anyway likely to be sold off next year, as the parent company Tesco has run into serious difficulties for reasons that have nothing to do with Blinkbox. In fact all reports were that Blinkbox was (is) doing well, both with ebooks and with other digital content.

Who will buy it? No indicators of serious interest as yet, but our guess is that the Chinese titan Alibaba, the world’s biggest e-commerce operator, wouldn’t turn its nose up at the prospect.

Although there’s been no official hints we strongly suspect Alibaba will be looking closely at Barnes & Noble’s Nook, also up for grabs in the new year. A double whammy of Nook and Blinkbox, both of which Alibaba could buy out of pocket change, would give Jack Ma the leverage he needs to mount a digital content challenge to Amazon simultaneously in the US and UK.

That said, as we’ve speculated in the past, Wal-Mart are also a good bet to buy out Nook, and who knows, maybe Blinkbox is on their radar too. Wal-Mart own the UK’s Asda, a large rival supermarket chain to Tesco and Sainsbury.

Grabbing Blinkbox from Tesco and mounting a digital challenge against Amazon UK while throwing money at Nook to gain digital traction in the US would  make a lot of sense.

Both Alibaba and Wal-Mart are extremely profitable and both awash with cash right now, just at a time when their mutual rival Amazon is struggling to show any profitability at all.

Given the choice we would welcome Alibaba over Wal-Mart any day. The business ethos of Wal-Mart and Alibaba are light years apart. Will either, both, or neither take the plunge? We’ll find out next year.

Meantime let’s finish where we started. Self-published titles are back at W H Smith. Well, some. And probably the rest will follow, except maybe the erotica titles.

Are your titles in yet? You can check here. (LINK)

Is anyone seeing titles from Draft2Digital or Bookbaby getting through? Is anyone seeing self-published erotica titles getting through? Do let us know.

 

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.