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

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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

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

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

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

Amazon Embraces Messaging Apps For Kindle Promotion. It’s Time For Indies To Take Messaging Apps Seriously.

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This past year or so we’ve been plotting the rise and rise of the messaging app and advising messaging apps are where the future of book promotion lies.

Kobo’s owner Rakuten is gearing up its Viber site as a sales and promotion platform for Kobo ebooks. The Japanese messaging app LINE already has music subscription services in two countries. Many companies globally are using messaging apps to drive traffic and sales.

This week Amazon climbs on board with the Kindle store. The only surprise is that they’ve taken so long.

From Amazon (LINK):

“Kindle readers can share quotes and recommendations with specific friends, using their favorite mobile apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, texting, and more.
Friends who receive a share can instantly start reading a free book preview right from their phone, tablet, or PC—no need to sign up, sign in, or install an app.”

Its early days for Amazon’s venture into messaging apps. Expect a big expansion of this engagement as we hurtle into 2016.

And with Rakuten already owning Viber don’t be too surprised if Amazon picks up a messaging app of its own before long.

~

Okay, as promised, here’s a rough sketch of how this will work for indie authors.

First, we need to look on messaging app engagement as an extension of our email lists. While we may have gazillions of “followers” and “friends” on sites like twitter and Facebook, we all know a good mailing list outperforms them all, because the people who have signed up have made a specific request to be kept updated on our latest releases, news, whatever.

But here’s the thing. Readers generally are not writers. Not every reader is comfortable with email, and likewise not every reader will be on Facebook or twitter, let alone following or friending us.

A reader who doesn’t use Facebook or twitter or email is not going to be able to sign up for our latest news. But chances are those same readers are using Facebook Messenger, or WhatsApp, or LINE, or Viber, or WeChat, or KakaoTalk or Nimbus or…

And just a reminder here. WhatsApp and Viber alone have over one billion users between them.

So developing a messaging app list is just like developing an email list, except that instead of sending out emails we send out messages (with images and even video if needed), which the recipients receive direct on their smartphone.

How does it work for us?

Let’s take the hugely popular WhatsApp (800 million users, 70% of whom access the app daily) as a guide. With subtle variations the same will apply to other apps.

Back when WhatsApp launched in 2009 it was very much a one-to-one service. You sent a text message to one individual. The idea behind the apps was to bypass the text fees telcos charged. Messaging apps are either free or charge a token subscription fee. WhatsApp costs $1 a year.

In 2013 WhatsApp rolled out “broadcasting” (other apps have similar) which essentially means you can send the same message to a number of people at one time without revealing the contact numbers to others, so like a blind CC email.

At the moment WhatsApp has a limit of 250 contacts for a broadcast, but that’s a great starting point. And you can simply have variant lists, slightly differentiated, to get around the limit. You have 1,000 contacts? Just send four messages, each very slightly different. Facebook has already made exceptions for big companies using WhatsApp to reach more people, and the broadcasting limit will surely be raised for others as we go. Other apps vary.

Facebook itself has an organic reach of 6% – that is to say, just 6% of “friends” on average actually see the posts we put up.

Now compare message broadcasting where you have effectively 100% reach, just like with your email list.

The key is to get readers to sign up in the first place, and in the case of messaging apps it means adding your number to their phone. So in the first instance you need a number. Don’t use your personal number.

Most smartphones nowadays come with multiple sim capacity, so simply buy a sim card and keep that number exclusively for promo. Then get that number out on your website, blog, regular promo campaigns, etc. In fact, tweet and FB it!

The key then is to treat your new contacts with the same respect you show your email sign-up contacts. Sending out a message ten times a day seven days a week will have people delisting you like crazy. Remember, EVERY message you send will ping on EVERY phone EVERY time.

So from the beginning, think global. If you are building a contact list on WeChat to boost your China sales or trying to get a contact list going in Australia or New Zealand, bear in mind that (unless you live there yourself) their time zone will be the reverse of yours. Sending out a message in the early afternoon in London or New York may not be appreciated by the recipient in Beijing, Canberra or Wellington being woken in the early hours with a pinged message. So when you compile your broadcast lists, doing so by country or continent might be a good starting point to consider.

Keep your broadcast messages short and pertinent. No nd 2 use txt-spk. Proper English is fine. But keep it succinct. Individual readers who want a further engagement will let you know. But message too often and you’ll have people delisting you, just like with email mailing lists.

On WhatsApp you can create and edit lists just like with an email list. You can have a list of contacts in Siberia and list of contacts who only read your children’s books and another list for readers who only read your hard core erotica with dinosaurs titles. Messaging apps really are just email lists for reaching readers who don’t like email.

A reminder of the top ten social media messaging apps:

WhatsApp
Viber
WeChat
LINE
Kakao Talk
Kik
Tango
Nimbus
Hike
MessageMe

There are many, many more, and if you are looking at the global markets it’s really worth doing some research and finding out which app is doing well in a particular country. LINE, for instance, is big in Thailand. Nimbus has 25 million users in India. A full post on messaging apps by territory another time.

Messaging apps on top of FB and twitter!!! “No! No! No!” we hear you cry. But hold on.

Yes, its more hassle for us poor, over-worked, under-paid indie authors. But as we’ve said here before, if we want to stay ahead of the game we need to stay ahead of the trends.

Just like, not to very long ago, we all had to sign up with and learn how to use Facebook and twitter and our blogs. Oh, and that crazy new thing called KDP that allowed us to bypass the query system and actually publish our books ourselves.

Yes, we can all scream “Gimmick! Gimmick! Gimmick!” and pretend it’s not happening. But it’s happening anyway.

Just ask Amazon.

And no, before someone says it, no-one can do them all. Don’t even think about it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try at least a few.

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

 

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

The View From The Beach – Mark Williams At Large

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China’s Golden Age For Writers.

The China Gold Rush For Western Indies.

China Daily today confirms what we’ve mentioned here before – that some Chinese indie authors are picking up the USD equivalent of $1.6m per year from e-writing. (LINK)

That’s the top end, of course, but many more are doing very nicely at slightly more moderate levels, and handful of western indies are enjoying the rewards too.

At the moment the easiest way into the China market is the translation and aggregation service Fiberead (LINK), but that will change soon enough as other operators realise the potential here to leverage western literature in the barely started but already humungous Chinese digital-reading market.

Fiberead is largely retailer-focused, and while I’ve of course no complaints about what Fiberead has achieved for me (first western indie to hit #1 on Kindle China for those unfamiliar), and I’m working closely with Fiberead on new projects, there is much more on my horizon.

My sights are set on the many micro-payment sites which is where the readers are, and where savvy Chinese authors are making the serious money. Think Wattpad but getting paid. :-)

No easy access to these sorts of sites from outside the country, which is why I am cultivating contacts within China to help me go to the next level in reaching Chinese readers.

There are incredible opportunities in the global markets right now for those of us willing to go the extra mile, stake our claim and do some prospecting.

China is by far the largest, but by no means the only goldmine out there for savvy indies willing to take the international markets seriously.

No, there are no just-add-water instant-gratification solutions, but if you are ambitious, willing to work hard, and not averse to the occasional risk, the whole world is your potential audience as the global New Renaissance gets out of first gear.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

The View From The Beach – Mark Williams At Large

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Don’t Buy From Me, Argentina.

Why indies should take a fresh look at the Latin America market.

How many people attended the Buenos Aries Book Fair this year?

A hundred? Two hundred? A thousand?

Try 1.25 million. And it was no one-off. The Buenos Aries Book Fair regularly gets over a million people swarming over its book stalls, and queues eight blocks long were forming for signed books from favourite authors.

YA and children’s works are doing particularly well right now.

The first of the Spanish translations of one of my children’s series is almost ready to go live, and while I’m looking forward to seeing it available in Spanish stores, not least Kindle Spain, the real excitement is being able to tap into the blossoming Latin American market, with Argentina top of the list.

No, there’s no Kindle Argentina store, and given Amazon will charge $2.99 for my 0.99 short story (the $2 whispersync surcharge) and give me just 0.35 to share with the translator (for Latin American sales other than Brazil and Mexico Amazon pays 35% regardless of list price) Amazon is not going to be relevant to my Spanish language sales in the region except maybe in Mexico.

Brazil of course is Portuguese-speaking, and does have a Kindle store. And hey, guess what? I have Portuguese translations almost ready too. :-)

But for the rest of Latin America the easy access will be through Google Play and Apple. Kobo is only present in any meaningful way in Brazil.

Then comes the bigger challenge of the “local” ebook stores in Latin America, of which there are far, far more than you might expect. Latin America had ebook subscription services long before they arrived in the USA!

The improbably named Ghandi store is not only Mexico’s biggest book store and online bookseller but they sell ebooks and even have their own self-publishing portal.

Spain’s own Casa del Libro is targeting Latin America right now, but the local players are already well ahead of the game in South America. Along with Argentina and Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia are leading the way as ebooks take off across the continent.

That’s not to say ebooks are booming in the region. Digital represents less than 1% of publishing’s sales.

But don’t let that put you off. This is just the beginning.

Ebook take-up may be low in Latin America right now, and literacy levels may not compare to the USA or Europe, but those that do read are voracious readers, and with tablet and smartphone proliferation ebooks are becoming accessible and affordable to many millions of new readers across the continent.

Digital changes everything.

A full report soon on the opportunities opening up across Latin America, including a survey of the local players that we internationalist indies need to be looking at.

Because the interest in books and reading in Latin America is clear. The problem has always been access to affordable and desirable content.

Digital changes everything. Including the ability of indie authors like us to reach new readers in foreign lands like Latin America.

Yes, it’s really inconsiderate of them to want to read in Spanish and Portuguese instead of English.

So here a reminder that Babelcube is now letting authors pitch to translators, rather having to hope a translator finds you.

A full report on Babelcube soon. Here just to say Babelcube is an easy way to tap into the growing global ebook market, not least for Spanish and Portuguese translations.

And one of the best ways to pitch to a translator and convince them to invest their time and energy in translating your book for no up-front fee, is to show them the market potential.

For example, the fact that 1.25 million people piled into the Buenos Aries Book Fair this year. That’s just one book fair in one city in one of the many Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America.

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

 

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

Messaging Apps Are The Next Big Thing For Savvy Indie Authors Looking To Stay Ahead Of The Game.

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While most indie authors continue to look the other way as messaging apps become the new black for selling digital goods, the Japan-based messaging app LINE has just launched its second music streaming service in as many months. (LINK)

Hard on the heels of the Thailand launch last month, LINE now has digital music streaming available in Japan, and other countries will be joining the, ahem, line-up later this year.

With Rakuten preparing to relaunch the messaging app Viber as a global sales platform for Rakuten products this year, we indies all need to sit up and take notice of the way the winds are blowing.

We can be forgiven for being unfamiliar. The so-called social media experts and mavens continue to tout Facebook and twitter as the only entities that matter for ebook marketing. Far easier to keep recycling the same old mantra than look at what’s coming next.

Without naming names, one social media maven famously told us MySpace was here to stay and that new cowboy outfit Facebook was just some fly-by-night rival that had no future. This was the same social media maven who told us reading ebooks on phones was a fad peculiar to Japan and was never going to catch on.

Meantime savvy authors are using sites like Pinterest and Instagram to great effect to find new audiences.

And the super-savvy amongst us will be getting established on the messaging apps.

Make no mistake, messaging apps are the next big thing for promotion and sales. Rakuten have made very clear their plans for Viber, and in particular they have spelled out their intention to sell Kobo ebooks using the Viber messaging app.

With LINE leading the way offering music streaming, others will follow. And just how long do you think it will be before other digital goods – ebooks, for example – are streamed on the messaging apps too?

Viber will be leading the way with messaging app ebook sales, and the rest will surely follow.

Meanwhile us indies are still busily carrying on as if Facebook and twitter are the be all and end all of social media promotion.

Wake up and smell the coffee!

Check out our past posts on this subject on the EBUK blog. Here’s one. (LINK) Several more in the archives.

Mobile messaging apps are the next big thing in global ebook promotion. Don’t wait for the social media mavens to wake up and jump on the bandwagon. Explore the world of messaging apps now and lay the foundations for your global ebook promotion empire.

Here’s the top ten social media messaging apps:

WhatsApp
Viber
WeChat
LINE
Kakao Talk
Kik
Tango
Nimbus
Hike
MessageMe

There are many others.

Never heard of them? We need to step outside our box. WhatsApp alone has over 800 million monthly users. Just because they are not on our radar does not mean no-one else has heard of them.

Nimbuzz has 25 million users in India, one of the key up-and-coming ebook markets.

Viber has over 300 million subscribers.

We all know how few of our Facebook friends and twitter followers actually get to see our posts and tweets. And we all know the services are clamping down still further to force us to pay to reach people, especially if there’s a promo link involved.

Instead of playing the same tune over and over to the same handful of people who actually do see our Facebook posts and do see our tweets, most of whom couldn’t care less, why not spend just a tiny fraction of that time and energy reaching out to new audiences in new ways.

Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram… LINE, WhatsApp, Viber…

Yeah, new learning curves, new ways to interact, new demands on our precious time.

But if we want to stay ahead of the game we need to stay ahead of the trends.

Just like, not to very long ago, we all had to sign up with and learn how to use Facebook and twitter and our blogs. Oh, and that crazy new thing called KDP that allowed us to bypass the query system and actually publish our books as ebooks.

Yes, we can all scream “Gimmick! Gimmick! Gimmick!” and pretend it’s not happening. But it’s happening anyway.

Don’t worry. The social media mavens will be along in a year or two to say they saw the messaging apps coming but were biding their time before letting anyone know.

Meanwhile everyday folk, you know, like readers, are busily signing up to messaging apps not by the hundreds, or thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, but by the billion. WhatsApp and Viber alone have a billion subscribers between them.

Just this week twitter announced it is expanding its character quota as it recognizes messaging apps are where people are heading. (LINK) Facebook of course famously already owns WhatsApp.

And no, before someone says it, no-one can do them all. Don’t even think about it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try at least a few.

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

+++

Note: We’ll be following up this post with some specifics about getting started with messaging apps in the next few days. Stay tuned!

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

Google Play Books Hits One Billion Installs.

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Txtr may have just closed over twenty global stores (LINK), but the global ebook player that matters, Google Play Books, goes from strength to strength.

According to a report on Ink, Bits & Pixels (LINK) It’s sixty global stores have collectively seen ONE BILLION downloaded Google Play books apps – that’s DOWNLOADED, not pre-installed, according to Nate..

Nate reckons Google Play Books US is by now bigger than Nook. That alone is worth being on Google Play Books for. Even if we count Google Play Books at just 10% of the US market that’s a huge number of readers.

And globally… Google Play is the only western ebook playing offering a window to the key up-and-coming Asian sites like Indonesia and Thailand, and in places like Scandinavia, east Europe an across Latin America where, Brazil and Mexico aside, Amazon is surcharging.

Is Google Play worth the effort? Don’t take our word for it. Take this from the Kindleboards forums as long ago as 2013 when Google Play only had a measly 40 global ebook stores.

“I know some of you are Google-phobic; however, y’all should keep an open mind. You may be leaving a significant chunk of money on the table.  I’m making between 2x — 5x at Google Play compared to Amazon for The Devilhouse Books. I’m quite disappointed with The Devilhouse’s sales at Amazon, and I’d be a sad puppy about now, but for Google Play.” (LINK)

The author later adds,

“I’m huge in Finland, Belarus, and South Africa, like multiple sales every day. Australia, Great Britain, Canada, and the US are my biggest markets by far.”

One reason we love the “smaller” retailers is the chance to be come a big fish in a small pond. This author concurs.

“Small pond. Fewer fish. About 5 sales/day for a unit will land you on the bottoms of the lesser-populated Top Charts, like Fiction & Lit > Short Stories. This leads to increased visibility and higher sales.”

Before you rush off to get your titles into Google Play Books, be warned. The Google Play Books self-pub portal is currently offline while some adjustments are made. If will soon be up again, but if you are too impatient to wait, or live in a country where you can’t upload direct, there are other ways in.

Curiously none of the big American aggregators have a deal with Google Play yet, but the British aggregator Ebook Partnership does and the German aggregator Xin-Xii and the Italian aggregator Narcissus will both get your titles into Google Play Books too..

It’s worth noting that Bookbub, which has dropped Smashwords as a listing-featured store, is carrying ever more Google Play buy buttons as more and more top-selling indies climb on board with Google Play. Yesterday 19 out of 25 Bookbub listings carried Google Play buy buttons.

If Nate’s report is right – and he has a good track record – that’s one billion not-preinstalled but deliberately downloaded Google Play Books apps.

That’s a lot of reasons to get your titles for sale on Google Play Books.

Are yours?

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.