Tag Archives: India ebooks

WorldReader and the Global New Renaissance

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

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

That’s from the WorldReader Annual Report summary.

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

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

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

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

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

Emma
Kibera, Kenya

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

Richard
Nakuru, Kenya”

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

The Global New Renaissance.

Happening right now on a planet near you.

Facebook Lite – Why It's Good For Indies, BRUSA, Amplifiable Content, And More.

FB-Lite_India-1-750x422

Facebook Lite Has 100 Million Monthly Active Users After Just Nine Months. Great News For Indie Authors Using Facebook Targetted Advertising To Grow Our Global Audience.

Most of us in the rich west use the internet with scant regard for how much data we consume. A typical plan with our ISP will be “unlimited”. We don’t have to worry about how “big” a site is, or avoid sites with video or fancy graphics because it will eat up our credit in a few minutes.

But in many parts of the world the only affordable way to by data is in sachets – x-megabytes at a time – and when it’s used up we need to go buy some more.

That was a big problem for me here in West Africa not so long ago, and while I now have “unlimited” access to a 4G network and can download what I like, it costs me more per month than most people here will earn in half a year.

Facebook Lite is an app that lets data-conscious internet users access Facebook without having to worry about how much data that attached image or is going to use up, because the Lite app adjusts content to minimise the data needed device by device.

It works great for 4G, 3G and even 2G networks.

The top countries where Facebook Lite is used are Brazil, India, Mexico, Indonesia and the Philippines. By happy coincidence all priority markets as recommended by me for internationalist indies looking to find new audiences.

Facebook Lite means it’s that much easier for authors to connect with people in those countries, and particularly worth bearing in mind for those of us using paid, targetted Facebook ads to reach new audiences. Facebook Lite countries obviously have better potential reach.

In India, for example, Facebook has 142 million active monthly users (69 million accessing FB daily!), but 133 million of that 142 million use the Facebook Lite app.

That’s a lot of people we could be letting know we have books available.

But a gentle reminder here that targetted global promotion needs to go hand in hand with targetted global distribution.

Last year I watched with mild amusement as one author ran targetted ads aimed at the Philippines to promote their ebook on Amazon and then complained bitterly that he’d seen no upturn in sales.

Mild amusement because I’d said to this author time and again that Amazon blocks downloads to the Philippines and most of Asia.

I’ll cover targetted global promotion in detail soon. Here just to note some observations on those top Facebook Lite countries, Brazil, India, Mexico, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Indonesia and the Philippines are both blocked by Amazon and Apple. Nook of course is only a player in the US now. Luckily Kobo and Google Play are available in all five of the top Facebook Lite countries. Kobo also has a partner store in the Philippines – National Book Store.

Brazil and Mexico are catered for by four of the Big 5 retailers, but be aware you’ll only get 35% from Amazon unless you are in Select. Brazil and Mexico both have Kobo partner stores as well as access to the Kobo store itself.

India, bizarrely, is both the largest market and the least well catered for, and here probably Amazon is indeed the best bet. No Nook or Apple, and Kobo and Google Play only have a token presence.

In each country there are domestic ebook stores available, but none are easily accessible, and are best left only to the most serious of internationalists.

Of course all these countries also sell print books, and in far, far,far greater volume than ebooks.

But again, no point in promoting a title unless it is actually available there.

Targetted global promo can get good results. Even better results if using cheap paid-promo like Facebook and twitter ads.

But targetted global promo, paid or free, is pointless if our titles are unavailable or unaffordable in the targetted country.

This post first appeared in The International Indie Author Facebook Group 10 March 2016 (LINK

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New Undersea Cable To Link Brazil And USA in 2018.

Submarine cables are the key to our international internet reach.

While futuristic social infrastructure projects like Google Loon (internet balloons) and Facebook Aquila (internet drones) are soon to join satellites in making the internet available globally, it is submarine cables that will continue to be the mainstay of our globile (global mobile) future.

Spain’s Telefónica is behind the new BRUSA (Brazil-USA if you’ve not yet had your morning coffee) cable, which is going to significantly improve not only existing 2G, 3G and 4G connectivity between the USA and Brazil but also give Brazil a firm foundation for the imminent arrival of 5G.

This in turn greatly accelerates interest in and take up of mobile devices for consuming digital goods.

This new cable link from Telefónica is in addition to its existing Pacific Caribbean Cable System (PCCS), a consortium submarine cable which links Florida, USA with the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Curacao, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador, and the Unisur cable connecting Uruguay and Argentina, and the SAM-1 submarine cable system which forms a 25,000 km ring linking the USA, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Latin America is already a lucrative market for our digital content, and is just going to get bigger and better as we wind down this decade, move into the era of 5G and the Internet of Things, and move inexorably towards 6G and the Internet of Everything.

The market for digital content is global. It’s driven by mobile.

5G will arrive whether we like it or not, and while it won’t destroy print, it will radically alter our prospects as digital content providers in the future.

Huge opportunities ahead. But also huge challenges.

We all have the option to look the other way and pretend the globile future isn’t happening. But it’s happening anyway.

I’m embracing the globile future.

How about you?

 

This post first appeared in The International Indie Author Facebook Group 10 March 2016 (LINK

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“Amplifiable Content” – A Digital Publishing Buzzword That Might Just Buzz.

When it comes to business buzzwords, they are usually great for comedy, but not much else.

But the term “amplifiable content”, which got the spotlight at DBW this week, is worth a second look.

The tagged report from BookBusiness notes,

“Although social media, in particular Facebook, is often at the top of publishers’ audience growth strategies, organic search is still the top traffic driver.”

That alone is worth pondering.

There’s a common belief in the indie world that the only way we can possibly sell a book is by marketing it to death, spamming everyone day in day out with promo and paying for advertising.

Well, promo certainly helps, of course. If done right. But spamming people isn’t doing it right, and the big question I would be asking is, if our book can’t build its own momentum, do we need maybe to revisit the book?

I’ve sold, to put it mildly, a fair few books over the past half decade. Yet I’ve never run a Bookbub ad, have maybe ratcheted up a dozen promo tweets and FB promo posts over the past year and generally do very, very little promo.

I prefer to just put titles out there and let them find their own way.

No question I’d have sold more if I was more active with marketing, and probably a ton more if I went for (and was lucky enough to secure) a Bookbub ad.

But organic growth is more meaningful than blip-driven growth in the long term.

I see some authors who buy a big ad, race up the charts, and a week later are back in the wilderness and need to do it all over again just to stand still.

That’s blip growth. Instant gratification, but like your average takeaway / carry out meal, you feel hungry again an hour later.

A big ad only pays off long term if backed by plenty of quality content available where the readers are.

If we have that, then organic growth kicks in and big ads and promo can become a supplement to our careers, not the only thing that keep us afloat.

When I hear authors, who have been on the circuit for several years, saying “we can’t sell books unless we promote them non-stop” and “the moment I stop tweeting and FB-ing my book my sales stop”, I can’t help but wonder what they are doing wrong.

Discoverability is a big issue for unknown, new writers just starting out, of course, or for an established author going incognito under a new pen-name, or kicking off in a new language.

But if we’ve been on the circuit for many years using the same name and the same branding and churning out the same books and we still have no organic momentum and are reliant on promo for our next sale then just maybe we need to take a step back and address the underlying problems.

To return to the DBW post, where SEO expert Rand Fishkin discusses “amplifiable content”:

“On average, Google drives 7X to 10X more traffic than Facebook does,” says Fishkin, adding that for ecommerce sites, search traffic is still the top referrer.

“Although publishers should invest time and energy in identifying valuable keywords, optimizing search snippets for articles, and building a network of links back to their original content,” says the DBW report paraphrasing Fishkin, “SEO success really comes down to understanding on a deeper level one’s audience and creating content that they will not only love, but will also share.”

That is, “amplifiable content”.

If we have to spam people just to get our next sale then we don’t have “amplifiable content”.

We don’t have organic growth.

And we don’t have a sustainable writing career.

This post first appeared in The International Indie Author Facebook Group 09 March 2016 (LINK)

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This Island Earth.

As I reported here at the start of the year, residents of Easter Island, the furthest flung inhabited island on the planet, may have trouble getting hold of print books, but they will, if we’ve made the effort to be available, have access to our ebooks.
 
A couple of days ago Easter Island’s LTE (4G for all practical purposes) network was activated, giver Easter Islanders even more reason to buy a smartphone that they could be reading our books on.
 
Also this week comes news that Kiribati is soon to get an advanced internet connection through the satellite service O3b Network, in conjunction with SpeedCast International.
 
Earlier this year 03b and Speedcast Int. began new operations in Papua New Guinea and on Christmas island.
 
Elsewhere in the Pacific O3b teamed with local telecoms to expand advanced internet reach to Palau and the Solomon Islands.
 
Back when the “ebook revolution” began in 2009 reach for indie authors was pretty much a one-country affair, and consumers needed a computer and an expensive e-reader to engage,
 
In the globile (global mobile) world of 2016 it’s hard to find anywhere on the planet we cannot reach, or anyone on the planet who does not have access to an affordable device that could be used to download our ebooks.
 
And not just our ebooks, but our audio, video and any other digital content we might care to make available.
 
But that’s down to us. The consumers are out there. The means to reach them is available to us all.
 
But if our titles aren’t available where they are… Our loss. They’ll just buy another author’s works instead.
This post first appeared in The International Indie Author Facebook Group 11 March 2016 (LINK)

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The International Indie Author.

Looking at the bigger picture.

 

 

 

India – The Race For Local-Language Internet Supremacy Has Begun. Indie Authors, Prepare Now For The Opportunities Ahead.

India e-commerce

There are three major e-commerce players in India right now. Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon.

Of those only one – Amazon – is now selling ebooks, but don’t give up on this story yet, because what Snapdeal is doing right now is going to alter the Indian e-commerce landscape.

So far the internet in India has been very much an English-language affair. India may be the second largest English-speaking nation in the world, but English is spoken by a substantial minority of Indians.

And for those that don’t speak, read or write in English, the internet – and especially the field of e-commerce – has been of limited interest.

There are great sites in local languages, of course, and some ebook retailers specialize in local-language titles, but English has been the driving force in internet take-up in the country thus far.

But not for much longer.

As Google’s South Asia VP said earlier this year, the next 100 million internet users will not be in English.

The proliferation of smartphones has made internet access a global phenomenon in a way that was quite impossible even five years ago. Globile (global mobile) has allowed nations to simply skip the desktop era of cable internet access and go straight from no internet to 3G/4G internet pretty much overnight.

In India, the fastest-growing smartphone market, globile is changing lives as internet access becomes available to even the remotest parts of the subcontinent.

But with English a minority language (a mere 150 million speakers) the shift to embrace local languages on the net was always just a matter of time.

That time has come. And Snapdeal is the first of the big Indian e-commerce sites to grasp this nettle.

Snapdeal, generally acknowledged as the second largest player after Flipkart, is rolling out the Snapdeal site not just in English but in Hindi and Telegu with immediate effect, and by end January will have Snapdeal options in nine other regional languages – Gujarati, Tamil, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya, Assamese and Punjabi. (LINK)

Flipkart will follow suit in no time at all.

Amazon? Well, this is going to be interesting to watch.

Amazon’s focus is on the middle class niche who largely coincide with the English-speakers, not the whole population. With its limited payment options in a country where over 90% of the population do not have bank cards that’s unlikely to change.

In the Kindle store Amazon currently supports only one local language, and there are just a handful of titles available.

That’s not so important right now, when over 50% of print titles sold in India are in English. But that’s more to do with availability and affordability than reader preference.

As innovative local-language digital players like Rockstand and Dailyhunt are clearly showing, when local language ebooks are made available and affordable, Indian readers are snapping them up.

And now Snapdeal have just opened the door to local-language engagement with the internet in India at a whole new level.

It seems unlikely Snapdeal will be selling ebooks in the foreseeable future, but the idea that the internet in India will remain the preserve of English-speakers is now redundant.

More and more Indians will be coming online looking for local language content, including books and ebooks.

And many – probably most – Indians who do speak English likely do so as a second language learned at school, rather than their family conversational language at home, and will welcome content in their first language.

There are fantastic opportunities here for internationalist indie authors willing to go the extra mile and seek out translations in as many local languages as possible, for ebooks, print, audio and beyond.

By beyond I mean, for example, promo, blogging, social media engagement, etc.

It’s not commercially viable for me to have The International Indie Author blog and FB pages translated into other languages right now, but it’s certainly something I’m looking at for the future. if we want to fully engage with the world we will have to address translations not just of our books but of our wider social media presence.

But let’s focus on books for now.

Earlier this year India leapfrogged the UK to become the second largest English-language book market in the world. It’s now the sixth largest book market on the planet overall.

And it will get much bigger as smartphones make internet access available to literally hundreds of millions of Indians who previously had no way of getting online.

Many will be buying ebooks, and many more will be using their smartphones to buy print books from online stores.

We are going to see a big surge in local language take-up of books, across all formats, over the next five years.

Savvy indies will be positioning themselves now to enjoy the ride.

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

 

 

Flipkart Ebook Store Closes. You Heard It Here First!

When the International Indie Author blog broke the news back in September that Flipkart’s ebook store was on the chopping block, (LINK) I was hoping I might be proved wrong, but it’s now official.

Flipkart’s ebook store is history. (LINK)

This is good and bad news.

The bad is that Flipkart is a major brand in India and still, just, the biggest e-commerce operator in the country. Had it taken ebooks seriously it might have been a very different story for the Flipkart ebook store. But what’s done is done.

The good news is that indie authors now have an easy access point to India through Kobo.

As I said back in September,

“Rakuten-owned Kobo could yet surprise us all, make a bid for the Flipkart customer data, and start taking India seriously.”

That’s what has happened. Just how seriously Kobo will now take India remains to be seen, but there’s every reason for optimism..

India remains the most exciting prospect on the planet for indie authors as ebooks take off across the subcontinent.

The India ebook gold rush is imminent. Stake your claim now!

The India Book Market Is Now Bigger Than The UK. The "Exploding New International Market Opportunities."

Nielsen’s latest report on the Indian Book Market confirms what I’ve been predicting for the past few years. India has leapfrogged the UK in the global book market stakes and is now the sixth largest in the world and the second largest English-language market.

With ebook take-up in India ready to bloom over the next couple of years watch out for India leaping up that World Book Markets chart.

A reminder. India now has more people online than the US has citizens.

 @ @ @

Staying with India, I still haven’t got any satisfactory Hindi translations sorted, but regulars will know the indigenous Indian languages (there are 22 official languages in India) are a top priority for me as we head into 2016.

This latest report on Quartz (LINK)

is only about Amazon’s Hindi sales, but a safe bet we are seeing the same enthusiasm for local-language titles in other retailers.

Some retailers specialise in local languages and the key mobile app operators Rockstand and Newshunt are very keen to have them available.

Google’s South Asia VP recently said that the next 100,000,000 internet users in India will be local-language, not English.

Whatever language a person chooses (or is brought up to use) in India, I want them reading my books.

India, along with China and Indnesia, are among the most exciting prospects on the planet right now for internationalist indie authors.

Exciting times ahead!

@ @ @

How exciting? Try this.

Rakuten-owned OverDrive said this week, “We are very bullish about the exploding new international market opportunities for publishers,” as they added 300,000 titles to their catalogue and increased their reach to 50 countries, with over 500 new outlets globally. (LINK)

Music to my ears.

@ @ @

Meanwhile Ingram is also stepping up its global game.

Ingram has expanded the roster of international digital printing and distribution partners in their Global Connect program.
They will work with China National Publications Import & Export (CNPIEC) in China; Repro India in India; and Rotomail in Italy.

Sorry – lost the link, but it was reported on Publishers :Lunch.

@ @ @

StreetLib adds Scribd to its distribution hub.

On this occasion Smashwords and Draft2Digital were ahead of the game, but now Scribd is an option in the StreetLib dashboard. They also have Bookmate and 24Symbols on board, which Smashwords and Draft2Digital have not.

Scribd is a US-based but crucially internationally-available subscription service.

If a reader downloads your book and reads 20% you’ll get 60% of list price from StreetLib. That’s 1.80 for a 2.99 list price, and 0.59 for a 0.99 list price.

Even for short stories and children’s books.

@ @ @

With Oyster set to close in the new year, Smashwords is set to lose yet another partner store, hard on the heels of its ill-advised and utterly ridiculous pull-out from Flipkart.

But the pending Oyster closure has been a gift to the ebook subscription nay-sayers, who have been having fun explaining how the model was doomed to failure from day one.

Regulars will know I’m a big fan of the subscription model, and see a bright future for it.

That said, there’s no question Oyster failed, of course.

But let’s bear in mind that is started out with just an iOS app, so was only being used by Apple device owners. By the time it got around to expanding to Android Amazon had entered the game with Kindle Unlimited, yet instead of expanding globally Oyster remained obsessed with the US market.

So does Oyster’s imminent closure mean the subscription model is unviable?

Not a bit of it.

Russia’s Bookmate is doing rather well. So is Germany’s Skoobe, Spain’s 24Symbols, and a host of other global subscription services that aren’t US-focused. Skoobe has been going since 2012, 24Symbols since 2011.

There’s a great post on Skoobe over on Publishers Weekly. (LINK)

@ @ @

Selling Foreign Rights In France Is Easier Than You Think!

So said Publishing Perspectives this past week. (LINK)

There’s a popular misconception in the wider world (and especially in the Anglophone world) that France is somehow insular and elitist when it comes to literature, and not worth bothering with.

Which is kinda sad if true, as France is the fifth largest publishing nation in the world. Bigger than the UK, and second in Europe only to Germany.

Yes, they do speak French, which is extremely inconsiderate of them, so the big question for us indies is, is it worth pursuing French translations?

You just know I’m gonna say yes, so I’ll strengthen my answer by noting my flagship title Sugar & Spice sold 50,000 hardcovers in France. Not quite mega-star sales, of course, but If that isn’t worthwhile I don’t know what is.

 Anne-Solange Noble in the afore-linked post points out that the French editorial market is actually “extremely curious and open to the outside world…”

I’ve got three French translators on board right now, and while the short-term focus is on ebooks I’m looking out for another French publisher that can get me into the lucrative bricks and mortar stores in France and Belgium, not to mention Canada, and for ebooks my focus is on the nascent  digital market in France and Belgium and the embryonic digital market in the wider Francophone world.

French is the sixth most widely spoken language in the world, with well over 200 million speakers, not least here in West Africa where, despite popular misconceptions that Africans don’t read and that the internet only exists in the rich west, books are highly sought-after and free-reading sites like Wattpad are very popular.

I’m investing time and energy in finding partners to reach the Francophone world, and strongly recommend you do too.

 Would I recommend paying up-front for a translation into French?

Not if you only intend to sell ebooks. The French ebook market is just beginning to shift. My ebook sales, for a proven bestseller in print, are disappointing to say the least.

But it’s early days. My digital titles in France right now are slowly gaining traction and are I’m looking at the future, not fretting about tomorrow’s lunch.

Ebooks are a great place to start in France. Take a look at Babelcube as a great place to find translation partners.

 But don’t blinker yourself to the wider possibilities.

As I’ll be exploring in an in-depth post soon, indie authors really need to think of themselves as *content providers* pushing valuable intellectual properties, not just *ebook authors* pushing mobi and epub files, if they want to make serious headway globally as we head into the second half of this decade.

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.

 

Flipkart Prepares To Shutter Its Ebook Store. Hands Amazon Control Of The India Ebook Market.

The writing has been on the wall for a while now, and the latest move by Smashwords didn’t help. Nor did Amazon’s launch of Kindle Unlimited India at a heavily subsidized price.

This week Flipkart formally announced the company ebook store’s future is under review, and there’s really no reason to expect it to end favourably.

Last month Smashwords withdrew 200,000 titles from Flipkart because “Flipkart determined their systems are not yet capable of supporting the dynamic nature of the Smashwords catalog.”

In plain English, Flipkart is not running a business model based on the interests of indie authors who want to jump in and out of Select at a moment’s notice. Smashwords is.

Barely was that announcement live than Amazon stepped up with the Kindle Unlimited India launch at a price no-one in their right mind could ignore. Almost certainly it saw a dramatic fall in Flipkart ebook downloads.

The thing is, while Flipkart has deep pockets, a multinational like Amazon has deeper still.

When Amazon launched in India a few years ago Flipkart was the undisputed king of online retail, with 80% of the online retail market (all goods, not just ebooks). Fast forward 2015 and Flipkart has just 44%. Snapdeal 32% and Amazon 15%.

Just this month it was announced India now has more people connected to the internet than the USA has people. By end 2017 it is projected India will have a half billion people online.

And while many will be reading ebooks, digital downloads form one very small part of Flipkart’s business.It intends – and needs – to focus elsewhere.

Last month Snapdeal declared its intention to dethrone Flipkart as the king of Indian retail. Flipkart faces an uphill struggle to stay at the top. Meanwhile Amazon has transformed its India game across the board, including ebooks.

Snapdeal doesn’t do ebooks, and while the withdrawal of Flipkart would leave a gap in the supply chain, I can’t see Snapdeal jumping in. They have bigger fish to fry.

A half billion Indians online by end 2017.

No wonder Amazon is throwing money at the India store like there’s no tomorrow. And, unlike in the first year when Amazon totally failed to glocalize, you just have to admire the way they are rising to the challenge now. And Amazon is big enough to play the ebook scene at a loss for the forseeeable future,  while still investing in the bigger picture.

Where does this leave the Indian ebook scene? Heavily balanced in Amazon’s favour.

There is no Apple iBooks store in India, and of course no Nook store. Kobo has a token presence (the partner stores are irrelevant). Google Play is there, and may yet emerge as the main western challenger to the Kindle store. The other western player is the digi-magazine store Magzter, which also sells ebooks.

Among the local players Landmark stopped selling ebooks over a year ago and Infibeam is like a fart in a colander, not knowing which hole to go out of.

There are two significant local players left – both app-based and pandering to the mobile readers. Rockstand and Newshunt.

Both have seen impressive growth and both are worthy challengers to the Kindle store. But they don’t have the deep pockets of Amazon to put up a fight against Kindle India.

Western indie authors can get into Rockstand and Newshunt direct, but it’s a convoluted process. The Indian aggregator Kartindo (LINK) will get you in as part of their paid package. But what we really need is a forward-thinking western aggregator like Italy’s StreetLib (LINK) to set up in India. Not likely in the near future as their focus is clearly on Latin America right now.

That said, Rakuten-owned Kobo could yet surprise us all, make a bid for the Flipkart customer data, and start taking India seriously.

Or even formally partner with Flipkart to handle the Flipkart ebook store, leaving Flipkart to focus on its core business.

But until that happens it looks like an open goal for Amazon in the India ebook market.

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

100 Million Reasons To Think About Translations Into Local Languages In India.

When I talk about the global New Renaissance and how virtually everyone on the planet will soon be able to access our ebooks I know many struggle to take the idea seriously.

After all, we were brought up in another era. An era when internet access involved buying an expensive computer powered by expensive electricity, that needed an expensive desk to sit it on and an expensive telephone cable connection only available in big cities, and an expensive subscription to an ISP, just in order to dial-up a connection that would slowly unfold a static webpage.

Nowadays we in the rich west take for granted the idea of a handheld, cable-free smartphone that we can read books on, watch films on, message people all over the world on, and, oh yeah, make telephone calls on. And conference calls. And video calls. And…

Ten years ago much of this seemed like science fiction. Even five years ago, when ereaders were just becoming popular, the idea of reading books on a phone seemed a fad that would never catch on in the real world.

But change just keeps on coming, and it gets faster and faster.

IT is no longer the exclusive preserve of the rich west. It’s not even the preserve of the rich few in the rest of the world. The rest of the world has simply skipped all that pain and gone straight from nowhere to 4G.

We’re fast approaching the point where everyone on the planet will have internet access and a handheld device on which to engage with said internet.

There are already over two billion smartphones out there. There are over three billion people with some sort of broadband connection.

And while of course the focus is on the larger cities and densely-populated regions of the world, that doesn’t mean the rural areas are missing out.

Projects like Google’s Loon internet balloons and Facebook’s Aquila internet drones will soon be bringing the internet to even the most remote parts of the inhabited world. For example, Google has recently announced a deal with the Sri Lankan government for Google Loon to provide internet access to the entire island.

Meantime, down on the ground, Facebook’s internet.org initiative is bringing free internet access to the poorest of the poor.

And now Google’s “Internet Saathi” project is literally wheeling out the web across rural India. By bicycle.

Over the next eighteen months five million women in 45,000 Indian villages will be getting lessons in how to use their smartphones to connect to the internet. (LINK)

Google this past week tweeted that the first rural woman student, Jayant, had successfully used her smartphone to look up information about the cattle she rears to support her family.

The internet is a wonderful thing.

But it won’t just change Jayant’s life in practical terms like providing information about her cattle. It will also open up a world of entertainment and social engagement previously totally off-limits to her.

How long before Jayant and the other five million women this project will reach will discover ebooks? Maybe one of yours?

Google ‘s South Asia VP Rajan Anandan says that while the English language has dominated the growth of the internet in India so far, “the next 100 million Internet users will not be fluent in English”.

That’s one hundred million reasons to start thinking about translations into India’s myriad local languages.

I am. Are you?

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

India Update. Don't Let The Global New Renaissance Pass You By. Be Part Of It.

DiversifyIn2015

India Update.

India is expected to become the second largest smartphone market in the world in 2017. That’s one helluva lot of people with a device in their hands that could be reading your books.

Number one of course is China, which means India will be shunting the USA into third place.

From VentureBeat,

“…smartphone growth is mirrored by the rise of India’s overall Internet population. As of 2014, India was the third-largest Internet population with 243 million online, behind the U.S. with 279.8 million. But that will change in the coming years because while the U.S. has 86 percent of its population online in some fashion, India only has 19 percent penetration.” (LINK)

And VentureBeat adds,

“As a result, entrepreneurs and investors are increasingly looking at markets like China and India as tantalizing regions for products…”

Indies not focusing on India now and laying the foundations for brand recognition there will be missing out big time down the road.

Here’s the thing: The US market is already close to capacity. Its book market can only grow so much bigger, but the supply of books and ebooks being churned out is growing by the day

In India and China the reading markets are already as big as the USA and they’re barely off the starting grid when it comes to meeting demand.

And the same goes for much of the world. Indonesia, Brazil, Russia… Latin America’s Spanish-speaking market… Scandinavia… Eastern Europe… The Middle East…. Nigeria and South Africa…

There are incredible opportunities out there right now for those thinking about the next five years rather than the next five weeks.

Don’t let the global New Renaissance pass you by. Be part of it.

Ebook Bargains UK

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Far more than just the UK.

And The Second Biggest Bookseller In The World After Amazon Is…

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For those of us who are neglecting the India market as a place to find readers, take heed of this latest report which suggests Flipkart is way up there ahead of the likes of Barnes & Noble, Waterstone’s, Fnac,etc. (LINK)

A few caveats.

First off, the world’s second largest book market China is totally omitted from the survey.

Second, the survey is actually about the popularity of a store rather than how many books are sold. And it is the whole store, not just the book store.

So for Amazon and Flipkart we are actually looking at the overall popularity of the Amazon and Flipkart stores as opposed to just the bookstore element.

No surprise that Amazon came top therefore. As to whether or not Flipkart sells more books than Barnes & Noble, the jury is out. This survey shows Flipkart is more popular, but given the population of India, the scale of the Flipkart enterprise, and the trending unpopularity of Barnes & Noble, that’s no surprise either.

But we should be in no doubt Flipkart shifts a lot of books and is by far the biggest bookseller in India. Nieslen estimated their market share at 80% in 2013.

Ebooks? There is no breakdown of ebook sales per se for Amazon India and Flipkart, and ebook take-up is India is still in its infancy, so we are not talking massive numbers. But that will soon change as more publishers in India engage with digital, and Flipkart and Amazon will no doubt fight it out for top place as the country’s leading ebook provider.

Both stores are massive in India, although Flipkart by far the largest, but it has to be noted that since Jeff Bezos started taking India seriously last year Amazon has really begun to close the gap on Flipkart’s dominance. Stats for May indicate Amazon actually had more unique visitors than Flipkart, for the first time.

Of course unique visitors and regular paying customers are two different things, but it’s clear that, after a couple of years of seemingly going nowhere, Amazon has really got its act together in India, and is now a major player.

How much that will be reflected in book and ebook market share remains to be seen.

But one thing is clear. Indians love to read, and the Indian reading market, already massive, is growing by the day as more and more of the population engage with the e-commerce world thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets and improvements in internet availability across the subcontinent.

The English-speaking book market in India is impressive. The local-language book market likely to be even more so.

Anyone not thinking about translations into the myriad Indian languages is going to miss out big time in the coming years.

So will those who do not engage fully with the myriad retailers operating in India.

Apple and Nook aren’t there, but Amazon and Flipkart are up against Google Play and Kobo, as well as local players ranging from the small (but very useful for local POD) Pothi to the two big mobile-only vendors Newshunt and Rockstand. There are others. Infibeam perhaps the most interesting as it prepares for its IPO (LINK) , and with a fresh influx of cash it may get back on track with its own ebook store.

India is one of the most exciting prospects on the planet right now for indie authors, and with Bookbub now sending out a newsletter with buy buttons for some of the key Indian stores, including Amazon and Flipkart (but sadly not Newshunt or Rockstand), we can expect to see a handful of western indies do very well here over the next twelve months.

If you fancy your chances check out the Bookbub blog which has a post on how best to discount ebooks in India. (LINK)

Don’t just be a witness to the global New Renaissance. Be part of it.

Ebook Bargains UK

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Far more than just the UK.

Amazon Prime In India By End Of The Year?

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Nothing official, but it seems Amazon is sizing up the prospects for launching Prime in India, with digital content streaming as a key attraction.

Film and music are being explored, in keeping with the current Prime offering, but of course a big boost to Prime’s appeal – in India as at home -would be to add ebook streaming.

Nothing will happen in India this side of summer, but we would expect Amazon to be pushing this venture to be live for the Indian festive season in the autumn.

Amazon is facing lots of local difficulties in India but is making progress despite. Shopping at Amazon is something of a status symbol for the lucky few who can afford to. One more example of eastern interest in western culture, that none of us should ignore.

Flipkart will remain the largest e-commerce player in India for a long while yet, and that goes for ebooks too. Remember, you can get into Flipkart through Smashwords with no up-front costs.

But anyone thinking the Indian ebook market is a two-dog fight needs to think again. Apple still aren’t there, and Kobo totally dropped the ball with this one, with a token presence that does no-one any favours.

But Google Play are there and making good ground. We expect Google Play to become the dominant ebook service in India in the not too distant future thanks to a combination of brand recognition, availability on Android devices, and carrier billing.

Landmark’s experiment with ebooks was short-lived, for reasons not yet clear, and players like Infibeam and Crossword are never going to amount to much.

But keep an eye on the magazine turned ebook purveyors like Rockstand, Newshunt and Magzter, all growing in importance as India goes mobile.

What we would love to see is the big western aggregators like Smashwords and Draft2Digital team up with these three, but as yet no sign. British aggregator Ebook Partnership do supply Magzter, and are looking at Rockstand and Newshunt, but that’s not a cost-effective option unless you plan to use EP’s wider distribution network.

Looking at the wider region, expect Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Bhutan and Sri Lanka to open up to ebooks this year, with Google Play leading the way.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.