The Ebook Market No Author Should Ignore: Think Globally!

One of the biggest changes the e-reader has brought to the publishing industry doesn't get much cyberink in the online book community.

It's the huge international market that's opening up now that we don't have to pay to ship physical books around the world.

If, like me, you've ever experienced that terrible moment on vacation when you discover you have nothing left to read in your native tongue but a copy of Henry James' The Golden Bowl you got in trade for your last Agatha Christie in that Athens know how tough it used to be to find English language books abroad.

But no more!

The e-age has given us a global book market.

This weekend, some health challenges kept me from the Central Coast Writers Conference—a big disappointment—but it allowed me to stay home and see the first installment of PBS's series of Shakespeare's history plays, dubbed "The Hollow Crown." I got to watch a breathtaking production of Richard II. It contains some of Shakespeare's most eloquent love-letters to the mongrel language we call English.

Since I had just received this post on the international book market, I felt a small sense of irony when James Purefoy as Mowbray spoke those famous words protesting his exile from the Sceptered Isle.

"The language I have learn'd these forty years,
My native English, now I must forego:
And now my tongue's use is to me no more
Than an unstringed viol or a harp."

In the 21st century, exile is not so harsh. As Jay and the crew at Ebook Bargains UK tell us in this week's post: a whole lot of people all over the world now speak English.

They read it, too.

Which means there's a global market for ebooks in English that indie authors can tap into—with no worries about translation, shipping, or "foreign rights."

But most authors who write in English still focus on selling exclusively in the U.S. That worked for some of the big indie success stories a few years ago, but this is a rapidly changing industry.

Do you know the country where people read the most books? I sure didn't. According to a July article in the L.A. Times, it's India. And you know where the second biggest population of English speakers lives? Again, it's India. Followed by Pakistan and Nigeria.

Combined, those three countries make up a larger population of English speakers than in all of the US.

I've mentioned in several posts recently that I've been getting a boost in my sales outside the US thanks to a new ebook promo newsletter that's venturing where the big US advertisers like BookBub, Kindle Nation Daily and Pixel of Ink don't go: the international markets.

For those of you who aren't published yet, you may not know the ebook bargain newsletter is rated by many as the most effective way for new authors to get noticed. Buying ads in daily newsletters like Kindle Nation Daily, E-Reader News Today, Pixel of Ink, and Bookbub is one of the best ways to get a new book in front of readers.

But they have some big drawbacks:

  • They're pricey. 
  • They only sell to the US. 
  • They demand a huge number of Amazon reviews: reviews on blogs, newspapers, or on other retail sites don't count. 
  • Most only link to Amazon.

I'm lucky my publisher connected with EbookBargainsUK (EBUK for short) early, so we got in on some of their initial freebie ads. But the ads are still remarkably low priced, and I have seen direct results. After a "spotlight" week in the newsletter, my boxed set reached #2 in Canadian women's fiction: right between Margaret Atwood's latest and the new Bridget Jones. A fantasy come true for a longtime fan of both Atwood and Fielding. It also charted in France, Germany and Brazil.

The EBUK newsletters don't have all the bells and whistles of the big American promoters, and they've only been going a few months, but as co-founder Jay Housden explained to me, what they lack in budget and fancy tech they make up for in enthusiasm and ambition.

A whole lot of ambition, as you'll see below.

And okay, I have a thing for all things Brit, as my readers know. (Yes, the next Camilla adventure will take us back to Swynsby-on-Trent. And there's a possible future jaunt to India, where Camilla's etiquette books are very big. Funny how our fiction can sometimes be predictive.)

EBUK's newsletters target English-speakers all over the world. And as they will tell you, ebooks are already a major factor in the global marketplace.

I'm a little embarrassed by my ignorance about this stuff. I didn't have a clue my books were on all these international sites. If you don't have a savvy publisher like mine, you may want to use self-publishing sites like Smashwords or D2D who will automatically put you on most of the international retail sites.

I know this piece is more promotional than what we usually accept, but I was so blown away by the info, I had to share it with you. Plus I'm a big fan of Mark Coker at Smashwords, and he echoes their vision in a great post about the Indian market here. Smashwords is working at putting indies into as many of these markets as possible. It looks as if this will make Smashwords a much bigger player in a few years.

Maybe someday, like Camilla in No Place Like Home, you'll be able to put a down payment on a little cottage with the proceeds from your international sales.

So Mick, Jay and the EBUK tech geniuses—take it away!

Why Every Author Should Start Thinking Globally

by the EBUK Team

Given we only launched Ebook Bargains UK (EBUK) this summer, on a shoe-string budget from a bedroom in Bedford, with the impossible ambition of promoting English-language ebooks to a world that supposedly doesn’t know ebooks exist, we’re pretty pleased with how things are going.

We started the first EBUK newsletter because we were tired of seeing newsletters that only linked to Amazon—usually only Amazon US. We'd search for the book on or another UK site, and find it wasn't on sale to us.

We also wanted to know about ebook bargains to be found at our own UK bookshop sites, like Foyles, Waterstones, W.H. Smith, Tesco etc.

We soon realized such a newsletter would be useful in Canada and Australia and India...and English speaking countries all over the world. So our one newsletter rapidly expanded to ten. We hope to have twenty by the end of the year.

Okay, so right now our number of subscribers is pitiful compared to BookBub's million. But it's important to bear in mind EBUK is targeting the nascent markets, not a mature market like the United States. The vertical expansion (subscribers) is inevitably going to be slow to start. But the list is growing daily.

We believe the international English-language ebook market will dwarf the US market in the coming years. Which is why we’re happy with our gradual vertical expansion and are instead focused on our lateral expansion – reaching out to readers around the globe.

By the time you read this we will have just launched Ebook Bargains S.E. Asia, the twelfth of our international newsletters. By no coincidence it coincides with the launch of the new Kobo store in the Philippines.

The S.E. Asia newsletter (Not just the Philippines but Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, etc) will join daily promo newsletters already shipping to:
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • India
  • Ireland
  • the Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • UK
  • USA
Ebook Bargains France, Italy and Scandinavia will be following next month, with another five to add before the year’s end.

Each daily newsletter carries the same titles, but the Australia newsletter only has links to retailers available in Australia. The German newsletter only has links to retailers available in Germany. The Dutch newsletter only has links to retailers in the Netherlands. Etc.

Ebooks Down Under

Guess what? Oz has been selling ebooks since the last century.

You’ve probably never heard of but they’ve been selling ebooks since 1997, ten years before Amazon introduced the Kindle – and are still going strong.

Amazon is estimated to have just over a 60% market share in Australia, which means four out of ten readers are shopping elsewhere.

Some of you may be familiar with Angus & Robertson and Collins, both supplied by Kobo.

What you probably don’t know is that Australians can also buy ebooks from:
  • Booktopia, 
  • Bookworld
  • Dymocks
  • QBD
  • Fishpond 
  • Here’s our host Anne R. Allen in Bookworld.
  • Then of course there’s the Apple iTunes Australia store
  • and the GooglePlay Australia store. 
  • And not forgetting the Sony Australia Reader Store. 
Sony have been quietly reinventing themselves while your back has been turned and now have seven international stores – here’s Anne R. Allen in their Australian store.

Even the German ebook retailer 'txtr (no, that’s not a typo) has an ebook store in Australia. And guess who’s got her ebooks there...

All these stores are selling ebooks to Australians in Australian dollars. Well, all except Amazon. They haven’t got a local store yet. And Australians have plenty of devices to read on. Not just Kindles and the now ubiquitous Kobo range, either.

Then there’s the indie stores! Sydney bookstore Pages & Pages has been tempting patriotic Aussies to trade in their Kindle for AU$50 and buy a BeBook ereader instead. And for every AU$50 you spend on books or ebooks in a month in their store you get a AU$5 discount the following month.

Don’t under-estimate the niche marketing power of indie bookstores as they turn digital, be they in Australia, New Zealand, the UK or the USA.

What about Europe?

Most people know there's an Amazon store in Germany ( But you may not know there are many others:
Sony also have a Reader Store in neighbouring Austria, and guess who’s there....

In fact there seems to be no escape from Anne R. Allen.  It would be easier to tell you where she isn’t!

Here’s Anne R. Allen in Ireland’s prestigious Eason ebook store in Dublin. Eason will shortly be releasing their own ereader. 

Her ebooks are even in Iceland!

The Netherlands? No Amazon store there yet, so no Anne R. Allen, right? Ah, but there is:
  • A local Dutch language Kobo store. 
  • And an Apple iTunes Netherlands store
  • And a GooglePlay Netherlands store
  • And of course a ‘txtr Netherlands store 
(Here’s Anne R. Allen for Dutch buyers in ‘txtr NL). And that’s before we start on the local competition: local Dutch ebooks stores. The Dutch retailer Bol has been busily selling ebooks in Holland since 2009, the same year Amazon launched KDP in the US.

No doubt you’ve been reading excitedly about the new US start-ups offering ebooks subscription stores.

Guess what? Skoobe in Germany and 24 Symbols in Spain have been doing it for years.

Denmark has two rival ebook subscription services, Riidr and Mofibo.

Incidentally 24 Symbols is dual language Spanish and English, acknowledging the huge number of Brit expats living in Spain with nothing to read. Come to that Skoobe is dual language, too.

 Far more people speak English in Germany than most people imagine. How does 40 million English speakers in Germany grab you?

The truth is, Europe is an untapped ebook goldmine. 

GooglePlay has figured that out. They already had ebook stores in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, France, Spain and Italy as of July this year. Oh, and also Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, South Korea and Russia. Pretty impressive.

Then across the summer they rolled out additional ebook stores in the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Greece, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania. That’s twenty-seven ebook stores around the world. So far. Not in GooglePlay? Might be worth the effort.

Then there’s that bizarrely named 'txtr (no capital, the apostrophe is compulsory, and despite the lack of vowels they are German, not Welsh) has no less than seventeen ebook stores around the globe. Mostly in Europe, including a 'txtr UK store, and also in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and America.

And 'txtr has some big surprises lined up. You may never have heard of them until now, but if you’re not in the ‘txtr international stores then you will be missing out on some big opportunities ahead. Here's Anne in ‘txtr Ireland. And in ‘txtr Poland.


Here’s Anne R. Allen in ‘txtr South AfricaSouth African readers can also buy Anne’s books in the local Kalahari store, where they might choose to read on the local gobii e-reader rather than a Kindle or the Kobo devices sold nationwide by the country’s biggest supermarket chain Pick-N-Pay.

Nor is it just Europe, South Africa and Down Under that have been busily enjoying ebooks. 

Latin America

Over in Latin America you’ll be surprised (or maybe not by now) to learn they don’t just have the Amazon Brazil and Amazon Mexico stores to buy from.

Here’s Anne R. Allen in Livraria Cultura in Brazil. Okay, no more plugs for Anne’s titles (thanks guys...I was feeling a little embarrassed by all that...Anne) You get the picture.

And the rest of Latin America? BajaLibros is third largest Spanish language ebook store in the United States, and they’ve been selling ebooks in Argentina since 2010, the same year the Kindle arrived in the UK. They produce their own ereaders which, along with their ebooks, are sold across Latin America and also in Spain.

Wonderful as it was to see the Kindle store arrive in Brazil, and more recently Mexico, the truth is Latinos were buying ebooks long before. Here’s BajaLibros in Brazil. And here in Mexico. They also have stores in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, not to mention Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. BajaLibros produce their own ereaders too.

was the UNESCO Book Capital in 2011, and earlier this year managed to cram over one million visitors into the Buenos Aries Book Fair, so let’s be in no doubt Argentines like reading.

But don’t go thinking BajaLibros is the only ebook show in town.

Grammata have also been selling ebook and ereaders in Argentina since 2010, and are now pretty much everywhere where Spanish is spoken. Here in Colombia, for example. They’re even in Spain! And if you don’t fancy buying from Grammata, pop along to Movistar (started 2011, has own ereader) or try Amabook. Amabook too has ebook stores across Latin America, as well as in the US! And it too beat Amazon to Mexico.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. An iceberg growing at a phenomenal rate.

Ebooks are being sold on six of the seven continents.

But let’s end where we began, in Asia

In Thailand Kobo is working hard to launch a Thai store, but meantime local retailer Ookbee has well over 80% of the market. Ookbee already has a three million strong customer base and is currently picking up new customers at the rate of 6,000 a day. Ookbee launched in Malaysia this summer, where it picked up 100,000 customers in its first two months.

They are opening an ebook store in Vietnam where competition is already fierce from Aleeza and Biitbook `– Biitbook even has its own self-pub portal!

Ebooks have been slow to come to the Philippines. But that all changed this month with the launch of the Kobo Philippines store, in partnership with the National Book Store chain, which now sells both print and ebooks to Filipinos.

What if we told you National Book Store is not a translation from the local Tagalog language. Most of the signs in store – and most of the books – are in English? 

There are 75 million English speakers in the Philippines. More than the entire population of the UK!

Did we mention we launched Ebook Bargains S.E. Asia this week?

China is not the easiest market to get into, but just this month OverDrive signed a major distribution deal with the Chinese authorities, which means their entire catalogue will be available to Chinese readers in due course.

At Ebook Bargains UK we are trying to stay a few steps ahead as we watch the international ebook market blossom. What we lack in fancy high-tech websites and slick newsletters (that will come as the advertising revenue builds) we make up for in knowledge of the international ebook scene and unbridled enthusiasm. 

We produce regular helpful newsletters for authors about how to reach and promote in these markets.

We all know how difficult it is to break into a mature ebook market. Most best-selling indies got in to either the US or the UK markets very early on. Very few have managed to do well in both.

But what is happening now is unprecedented in publishing history. In the old world, book distribution was physical. It was simply not viable to print and distribute English language books en masse even to countries like Australia or New Zealand, let alone Iceland or Indonesia, or Paraguay or Papua New Guinea.

Digital changes all that. Here’s some numbers for you.

There are about 150 million English-speakers in India, and while local languages books and ebooks
are available, the ebook retailers’ sales report mostly English-language titles selling, and with increasing rapidity. The question is how to get your books noticed and bought in this huge potential market.

Indians have been enjoying ebooks for several years. The Amazon India store is actually a bit of a late-comer. Way back in 2011 Indian retailers were selling Android tablets for... wait for it... $35. And buying ebooks from local stores like Flipkart, Infibeam and Pothi. Here’s Anne R. Allen in India’s Infibeam, the country’s second biggest ebook retailer after Flipkart. (OK, but that's the last one, guys...Anne)

Flipkart? India’s on-line giant Flipkart has an estimated 80% market share. 

As of this month Smashwords is distributing ebooks in India. 

You can also upload direct to another key Indian ebook retailer, Pothi. Along with Amazon India that’s a great base from which to become a future indie best-seller on the sub-continent, if only readers there knew your books existed. (Say, did we mention we have an Ebook Bargains India newsletter?)

But back to those numbers. When we said we expect the international English-language ebook market to dwarf the US market we weren’t joking.

In just India, Pakistan and Nigeria, the number of English-speakers exceeds the entire population of the United States!

And the rest of the world? Well, there’s upwards of 75 million English speakers in the Philippines as we’ve mentioned already. Over 40 million English speakers in Germany. 30 million in Bangladesh. 30 million in Egypt. 25 million in France. 20 million in Italy. 17 million in Thailand. 15 million in the Netherlands. 15 million in South Africa. 12 million in Poland. 12 million in Turkey. 11 million in Iraq. 10 million in Spain. 10 million in China.

Then there’s Brazil, Sweden, Kenya, Cameroon, Malaysia, Russia, Belgium, Israel, Zimbabwe, Romania, Austria and Greece, all with between 5 and 10 million English speakers each.

A very conservative estimate puts the number of English-speakers outside the USA at around 750 million, quite apart from the UK (60m) , Australia (20m), New Zealand (4m) and Canada (25m).

Because of the logistics of print distribution English-language print books have never even begun to approach their true sales potential. Digital changes everything.

And you have a chance to get a foot on the first rung of the international ladder now, before everyone else does.

How to find and get into these retailers you’ve never heard of and promote in countries you thought were still reading on parchment? That’s where we come in.

One small fee (and we do mean small – prices start at just $5 a day) will get you in however many international newsletters we have. Right now that’s $5 to appear in twelve newsletters going around the globe. The small fees reflect the small returns you should expect at this stage given these are nascent markets and our subscriber base is still building. Be realistic. But every paid ad gets a credit for a free ad of equal value, so effectively it’s two for one. And there are plenty of listing options. We’re a little bit different from all the other newsletters out there.

You can find links to the daily newsletters on our Facebook page. And connect with us on Google+. You can subscribe to the reader newsletters by country /region, sign-up for the authors’ newsletter, or check out the author page on our website. 

We all dream of becoming a truly international bestselling author. Ebook Bargains UK can help make that dream come true.

Pretty amazing stuff, isn't it, scriveners? (Although I think the penguin community should lobby for an Antarctica ebook store.) The guys say they're going to check in on the blog when it goes live on Sunday (nighttime in the UK.) So ask your questions. I know I have some. Like how hard is it to get into all these bookstores? Ask away....

Book Bargain of the Week

Sale extended! No Place Like Home is still 99c
 on Amazon USAmazon UK, and Amazon CA (and yes, after reading this post, I'm going to get my publisher to take it out of Select and make it available on other platforms, lickity split!...Anne)

"A warp-speed, lighthearted comedy-mystery"...Abigail Padgett
"A fun, charming novel about the rich and less so" ...Karen Doering
"A cross of dry British humor and American wackiness, and it all adds up to a fun read." Deborah Bayles


The Harper's Bazaar UK Short Story Prize is open to all writers. NO ENTRY FEE. Are you the next Dorothy Parker or Anita Loos? Submit an original short story (up to 3,000 words) on the subject of 'spring' The winning entry will appear in the May 2014 issue. Its author will be able to choose a first-edition book from Asprey's Fine and Rare Books Department to the value of £3,000 and enjoy a week-long retreat at Eilean Shona House, on the 2,000-acre private island off the west coast of Scotland where JM Barrie wrote his screenplay for Peter Pan. Deadline December 13th.

The Rumpus has launched the Weekly Rumpus and is calling for submissions. They are interested in "sharp, fresh, original work that grapples with life as it is really lived and felt in the world today. We want writing that walks on a wire, questions conventions, conveys a vision." 1000-6000 words. Here's their submissions page.

Quirk Books "Looking for Love" contest. They offer a $10,000 prize for the best quirky love story of 50,000 words or more. Visit the Quirk Books website to download the entry form or for further information. Quirk Books was founded in 2002 and publishes around 25 books each year. Their bestselling titles include Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Entries close October 1.

SMOKE AND MIRRORS podcasts. Get your short story recorded FREE for an online podcast! Fantastic publicity if your story is accepted by SMOKE AND MIRRORS. They broadcast about three stories a week. Spooky, dark tales preferred. No previous publication necessary. They judge on the story alone.

WILD LIGHT CONTEST for poets. The $25 entry fee is a little pricey, but this is run by the prestigious Red Hen Press and offers a prize of $1,000 and publication in The Los Angeles Review. Submit up to three poems of up to 200 lines each. Deadline October 15, 2013.

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