Make Sure Vietnam Is On Your Career-Indie Radar.

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If you write over-sentimental mawkish romance with some sex thrown in you might want to chuck your book into Google Translate, hit the Vietnamese button, slap a cover on, and sell it in Vietnam, where apparently such works can pick up ten million readers. (LINK)

Okay, that’s probably not the best career plan ever (and do not EVER use Google Translate for your books!), but check out the afore-linked post from Publishing Perspectives for a reminder that there are key markets out there like Vietnam that are totally off the radar of most indies.

We’ve covered Vietnam a few times, albeit with little enthusiasm because gaining access it not easy. but Vietnam is on our second-to-top-priority list – one of the key emerging markets to be keeping an eye on. Vietnam has its own self-publishing portals, but only in Vietnamese (they are soooo inconsiderate!) and self-pub is doing well there. But as yet no easy way for westerners to get in on the act. Amazon blocks downloads, Apple isn’t there, Nook isn’t there, Kobo is only there through the international store in USD.

But Google Play is there and so is e-Sentral, so there is some access. While no iBooks store yet, Vietnam is one of Apple’s biggest growth areas. As and when Apple get their global iBooks stores back on track it could get very interesting.

Meanwhile, peruse the Publishing Perspectives article and get an idea of the immense interest in reading among the younger generations in Vietnam, many of whom will also be reading in English, and most of whom will soon become cash-spending adults who will still be wanting to read.

Vietnam, population 90 million, is a highly literate society and has primary school enrollment running at 90%. Vietnam is embracing digital across the field, and while ebooks make up a small part of the publishing industry right now, that is changing.

As best we can make out, Biit Books, one of the early runners, is no longer operational, but Alezaa still is going strong, and so is Sachweb.

Check out Sachweb here – https://sachweb.com/  – We love to tune in just for the music the store plays, but still can’t make head nor tail of the store itself. :-)

Other Vietnamese players still operating today are Ybook, Komo and Sachbaovn.

Aside from Google Play and eSentral the key international player in Vietnam is Thailand’s Ookbee, which is also partnered with Indonesia’s Scoop. No easy way into Ookbee yet, but there are signs things may change this year. We’ll keep you posted.

Until then, make sure Vietnam is at least on your radar, and be sure to have your books in Google Play and e-Sentral. You can go direct to both. If you prefer an aggregator, the pay-as-you-sell aggregators Narcissus and Xin-Xii will get you in to Google Play, and the pay-up-front Ebook Partnership will get you into both.

And if by chance you know someone who can translate your works to Vietnamese don’t pass by the opportunity.

South East and East Asia are the most exciting regions for digital reading right now. China, obviously, but also Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and South Korea should be firmly on any career-indie’s radar.

Wattpad has a very strong user-base in Vietnam, for those who use Wattpad to gain international exposure.

One final thought for now. Some of you will have books set in Vietnam or about Vietnamese characters. While finding a Vietnamese translator and getting into Vietnam stores may be a challenge there are ways to push your English-language titles.

Checkout the arts and entertainment page on  VietnamNet – (LINK)

Most countries have similar sites aimed at being a window on the nation for English-speakers and also aimed at ex-pats. These sites can be great ways to do some targeted promo, for your E-L titles with that regional interest. Often these sites struggle for content, so a savvy indie handing them some free content on a plate… By content we mean a short and thoughtful piece about your book, with discreet links, not a BUY ME! screamer.

And do offer your book free for them to review. That could pay off big time with a site recommendation that might be picked up by other media in that country.

A full post on E-L niche promotion soon. Here just to state the obvious. If you get in touch with the editorial teams on these sites you are likely to find a warm reception IF your books a) have regional interest and b) are available in both digital and print.

Note that last word. In a country like Vietnam where ebook take-up is less than 2%, print is where the action is. Make sure you include your print book’s ISBN, because with that a buyer can easily find where your print book can be bought.

And bear this in mind: Sending out Kindle or iBooks or Nook links to a country like Vietnam when these stores are not available in Vietnam is not going to find you new readers. Nor will it impress the editorial team who might otherwise love to run your promo piece.

Again, this is where ISBNs come into their own. The “I” in ISBN stands for international, and it means just that. Give out your ISBN and the reader can search for that and find a print or digital vendor they can use. Give out a link to a particular store, or only a digital link,  and if that store isn’t accessible or the reader does not like ebooks said reader will assume your book is not accessible to them.

Visitors to country-window sites like these are likely to be English-literate and with the means to pay using mainstream stores like Google Play, Kobo, etc, or to pay for international shipping to have the POD book delivered.

As ever, there are so many opportunities out there for those indies willing to step outside their comfort zones.

Have you stepped outside your comfort zone lately?

Ebook Bargains UK

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http://publishingperspectives.com/2015/05/sexed-up-chinese-pulp-fiction-invading-vietnam/

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!

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Where Next For Nook?

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When it comes to indecisive it doesn’t get much worse than the management of Barnes & Noble and what they are going to do with Nook.

As of summer 2014 it was definitely being sold off, and summer 2015 was the deadline. (LINK)

As of late February of this year it was definitely being kept. (LINK)

As print sales settle after the early disruption of digital it’s clear retailers like Barnes & Noble, along with the big publishers, are feeling more relaxed and confident than at any time since 2011-12, when one struggled to find an industry blog that wasn’t full of doom and gloom about publishing’s future.

How thing’s change.

There’s a new vibrancy and confidence in the industry as the shake-out’s new landscape becomes clear. Print sales are doing just fine, book stores are thriving. And ebook stores are thriving too.

Yes, there have been casualties. In the ebook field small players like Diesel, that simply couldn’t hack it, and unexpected casualties like the Sony Reader Stores and Tesco’s Blinkbox, both sacrificed because of problems at the parent companies.

And then there’s Nook.

While the Kindle store has probably been profitable for a good few years now (humungous market share in the US and UK, assisted by subsidized ereaders and tablets) Kobo is only expected to break even later this year, and Nook, while seeing its losses dwindle, is still far from profitable in its own right.

But with US market share at around 10%, tucking in behind Apple, Nook still is a significant player, and still has a lot to offer.

Barnes & Noble could, if Nook was such a dead loss as the naysayers would have us believe, simply call it a day, write off the Nook legacy, and move on. There is absolutely no point piling on the losses if there is no knight in shining armour on the horizon to rescue this damsel in distress.

So why hasn’t B&N just called it a day and shut shop?

Our guess is that B&N do see a knight in shining armour on the horizon. One (or one of several) with deep pockets and big ambitions, but not yet in a position to make a move. Perhaps they have already signalled interest. Perhaps B&N are just smart enough to see the way the wind is blowing.

You see, no matter how much we indies (and sadly it is largely we indies – still locked into this arcane us-and-them mentality that sees print publishers and print retailers as the enemy) ridicule Nook, the fact remains that Nook is a close-to-profitable business with a lot to offer a prospective buyer looking to gain a significant foothold in the US digital media market.

Not just a substantial customer base (who wouldn’t want 10% of the massive US market in a single grab?), but the marketing contacts and infrastructure (both US and UK publishers), and the not insignificant global potential.

At one stage Nook was fielding thirty or so international ebook stores, albeit only with a Windows 8 app. But it means they had the contractual infrastructure in place with publishers in those countries.

Nook also has a functional self-publishing portal across several countries and, slightly more controversially, a print and publishing services arrangement with Author Solutions. Plus of course some nominal digital media action beyond the ebook element.

Then there’s the existing range of Nook hardware in readers’ hands and the contractual infrastructure in place with manufacturers to build on same.

All of which collectively amounts to a significant package for a forward thinking, globally-minded, deep-pocketed operator with an eye on the US and international digital media markets.

Who might that be? Here at EBUK we’ve long been warning that the centre of digital gravity is shifting east, and it from the east we feel that Nook’s knight in shining armour will most likely come.

B&N’s management will not be unaware of the manoeuvrings of the big Chinese e-commerce titans as they gear up for global domination. If Alibaba is leading the pack right now, expect Tencent and JD among many to be not far behind.

And then of course there’s Rakuten, across the water in Japan. Any thoughts that Rakuten was regretting its buy-out of Kobo and was writing off ebooks were laid firmly to rest when Rakuten bought out the US and global digital distributor OverDrive earlier this year.

Nooks’ 10% US market share would make a fine addition to Rakuten’s US Kobo and US OverDrive presence, as well as both company’s substantial international reach.

The OverDrive buy-out, along with the plans for Viber, make very clear Rakuten’s vision for a digital future. More on the latter in another post shortly.

B&N’s management will surely be looking at these up-and-coming players – any one of which could buy Nook (and B&N itself) out of pocket change – and see the potential for a lucrative sale down the road if it can just get Nook back on the right path.

Getting by with Nook for another year, as B&N now appear to be intent on doing, may be more sensible than it at first appears.

 

Ebook Bargains UK

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Far more than just the UK.

The View From The Beach – Mark Williams At Large

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

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

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

The View From The Beach – Mark Williams At Large.

May Is Short Story Month. Are You Ready?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Career Authors Alert: Selling Rights Vs Selling Ebooks.

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

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

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

If so, think again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Germany is the trans-Atlantic powerhouse.”

“Japan is the fourth largest publishing market.”

“The Spanish language markets offer global opportunities.”

“Turkey is taking off.”

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

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

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

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

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

Asia Watch 1.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UK and Australia Digital Libraries Now Supplied By 3M.

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

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

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

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

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

Magzter Now Open To Indie Authors.

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

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

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

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

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

Watch out for a detailed post on Magzter soon.

 Asia Watch 2.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now Macmillan has followed suit.

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

It’s happening.

And it won’t stop at just China.

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

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

Subscription Services Get Bigger & Better. Mostly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

+ + +

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DiversifyIn2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rockstand and Newshunt.

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

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

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

By 2020…

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

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

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

But nor is it hard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or from Flipkart. (LINK)

Or from Landmark.(LINK)

Or from Rediff Books. (LINK)

Or from BookAdda. (LINK)

Or from…

And on and on and on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Ebook Bargains UK

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The Bestselling Books On Amazon Right Now? Colouring Books For Adults. And What We Indies Can Take From This.

DiversifyIn2015

We thought this was a late-discovered April 1st post until we checked the date, but it seems that, when it comes to stepping outside the box, there’s plenty of life left in the print sector.

Colouring books for adults (that’s coloring books, for you guys across the pond) are apparently storming the charts (LINK), and we can expect a ton of copycats to follow suit.

For those indies who hide behind the bricks-and-mortar excuse as to why trad pub leaves us standing, it’s worth taking a closer look at this latest phenomenon, because there are two important lessons we can learn from this as we look on enviously at those sales figures.

First, while we’re not sure if it’s even possible to make an ebook that anyone can colour in on screen – if not, we’re sure someone will come up with an app very soon – there’s plenty of scope for indies to get in on the act with POD.

One adult colouring book title alone has sold 1.4 MILLION copies world wide.

What’s significant is how these colouring books are holding their own in the Amazon charts. No, not the ebook charts we indies are glued to, but the overall sales charts we indies shy away from because it’s all trad pub.

Here’s the thing: every ranking title on Amazon’s print chart list has NOT been sold in a bricks and mortar store.

It did NOT get the sale because evil Big Pub paid for the plinth in B&N or Waterstone’s and it did NOT get the sale because evil Big Pub has the unfair advantage of being able to get books in bricks and mortar stores that are off-limits to indies.

We indies really need to ask ourselves WHY our print titles can’t compete in the ON-LINE stores like Amazon, etc, when self-evidently we do pretty well in the ebook stores.

There are lots of reasons, and we’ll come back on this in detail another time, but one reason is simple and self-explanatory. We indies (collectively) spend all our time marketing our ebooks to ebook buyers, rather than marketing our books to readers.  Many indies don’t even bother with a print edition, or treat it as an afterthought. And as for including a link to our print title when we do our promotions… Don’t be silly. We’re indies!

Meanwhile trad pub pretty much owns the ON-LINE print charts because (collectively) indies have this crazy idea that if we can’t get our books into the high-street stores then print isn’t worth making any effort for.

The second thing we can take from this colouring books for adults phenomenon is this: Follow your passion, and be passionate about it.

When these illustrators were creating their colouring books for kids they stepped back, looked at what *they* were passionate about, and instead of just following the sheep ahead, created a colouring book for adults, because it’s what *they* would like to have been able to buy but it didn’t exist.

At worst it catered to a niche and created a small but welcome new income stream. At best, it pretty much created a new genre, and a tsunami of cash for those who got in early and stole the show.

As indies we are not reliant on a publisher to invest in our passions and dreams. If we choose to follow the sheep and chase whatever the latest chart fad is. and only as an ebook, then we have only ourselves to blame when we find the bandwagon is overcrowded and we can’t get a foothold.

Take full advantage of the freedom and the possibilities available now and the new opportunities opening up every day. Don’t carry on as if nothing has changed except the ability to upload ebooks. Embrace the New Renaissance!

Create, write and publish what you are passionate about, no matter how silly, how seemingly non-commercial or how crazy it may seem.

At worst, you’ll feel better for it and will have a new, if trickling, income stream. And at best, you could be driving the next bandwagon instead of chasing after it.

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http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/apr/05/colouring-books-for-adults-top-amazon-bestseller-list

Think About The Next Five Years, Not the Next Five Weeks. Your Global Reach In 2019 Will Be Truly Phenomenal.

statistic_id271405_global-mobile-data-traffic-2014-2019

Yes. we’ve been off-line. Sorry! But we’re back, and lots to catch up on, starting with this graphic (LINK) which shows predicted mobile data traffic globally over the next five years. Hard to exaggerate how significant this is.

Right now much of the world is without the internet or running 2G. For most of the world 3G is still a novelty. 4G a luxury.

But based on current trends the take-up of 3G and above internet globally is going to be staggering. And this is based on current day technology. With 5G just around the corner, that 2019 figure could be hugely conservative.

As we start 2015 there are already THREE BILLION people connected to the internet. By 2019…

Mobile is the driver. Back in pre-history when you needed a desktop computer and a monitor and somewhere to plug it all in before you could even think about having a cable to connect to the internet, going online simply wasn’t an option for most of the world.

Today 89 percent of all internet activity in Papua New Guinea is via mobile. It’s 76 percent in Nigeria and 72 percent in India. The same story is unfolding across the globe.

Cheap mobile devices – mainly smartphones – mean that in the not too distant future almost everyone on the planet will have the means to access and read your ebooks, listen to your a-books and podcasts, watch your you-tube videos or consume whatever other digital content you may care to throw out there.

The scale of our potential audience is quite unparalleled in human history, and it’s getting bigger by the day.

Every day more and more people have the means to read and buy your ebooks. If they are there. And if they are buyable.

When it comes to going global, being there is most definitely half the battle. The other half is a lot of hard work with no instant results.

Will it be worth it?

Take another look at that graph. Focus on 2014, because that little stump is EVERYTHING we have today. EVERY ONE of the US and UK and other readers we have collectively accumulated over the past five years is somewhere in that first step.

Every Amazon customer, every Apple customer, every Kobo customer…

Each new step on that graph represents huge numbers of NEW users – many of whom will be reading ebooks, listening to a-books, etc.

Don’t get so wrapped up in the day-to-day sales-watching that you lose sight of the incredible opportunities ahead.

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

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