Ebooks In Europe: The Game Really IS Afoot

Kindle has just launched officially in France at €99 and a decent seeming catalogue of French titles to go with the English language books already available. Of course Amazon has also opened the French market to self-publishers and independent publishers through their Kindle Direct Platform.

Yesterday Google brought its UK ebook store online. Last week, iBooks launched in over two dozen countries around Europe. And this only six months since Amazon launched Kindle in Germany.

It is clear now that the pace of adoption of ebooks will rise in Europe if only because availability of ereaders AND ebooks is increasing rapidly here.

What’s more the price for the new Kindle, at JUST sub-€100 is very attractive. I can see many Kindle boxes under the tree this Christmas.

That means the luxury of waiting is no longer an option for booksellers. Waterstone’s may not have time to wait for the perfect ereader. To my mind it NEEDS to launch one pre-Christmas.

In short, the game is afoot and who wins is by no means clear!
Eoin 

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13 comments

    1. I think that’s mostly to do with the Local ads not being included in the UK edition (or the European one). It’s a slow process for sure! But it’ll get there! They don’t ignore markets unless they don’t see a return!

      1. That’s exactly the reason for the discrepancy. “Special Offers” is only available in the US. Without ads, the Kindle costs $109 there, which once you exclude VAT from the Euro 99 Kindle, the prices are similar.

  1. Eoin, do you have a view as to why the Fnac ereader failed to excite interest? I think they sold about 15,000 units in six months.
    Ebook content in France is Lang Law protected, so once the customer has bought their reader, they enjoy no special value privileges for reading ebooks – unless the publishers choose to radically restructure prices. (Which, I think, would be a short-term error.)

    1. That law is under threat though. The EU raided several publishers’ offices in France for alleged price fixing (even though it is enshrined in law).

      In fact, print book prices have long been fixed in France and elsewhere. But it was only when e-book prices were fixed that the EU launched an investigation.

      This is left-field speculation on my behalf, but I wonder if it is a hangover from the misclassification of the EU of e-books as a “service” back in the 90s (thus attracting the higher VAT rate). Perhaps the EU are a little more sensitive on the price fixing of services. Maybe.

      Either way, I can’t see fixed prices holding out for too long.

      1. Really? Italy, which was the only main European continental country with free prices has recently approved a law “Lange” style. And, in the anglo-saxon markets, what else is “agency-pricing” but a “Lange” style gentlemen agreement in which p-publishers have the upper hand?

    2. The difference I see here is that Amazon has access to the vast world of KDP content, the bulk of it priced between $9.99 and $2.99. What’s more, much of this is professionally published material and fairly well published material from independent writers.

      The content isn’t necessarily king, collections of content, priced well, in a nicely priced device and well market makes an attract offer.

      That, to me, has always been the winning formula: deliver a device AND a good spread of content and you’ll win over readers.

      Eoin

  2. This is great news.

    There will also be a Spanish Kindle store before the end of the year. And deals have already been struck with Italian publishers for content in the Italian Kindle Store (and Amazon have been hiring for a while for that).

    It also means the abolition of the $2 surcharge that Amazon adds to e-books in France (before VAT) which has also been holding back the market (that and forcing customers to buy from the US store, in English).

    There are rumors here in Sweden that Stockholm will be home to a Scandinavian Kindle Store – but very much unconfirmed.

    After Spain/Italy, Portugal could be next – if you take the new language defaults on the new Kindles as any guide – which would (logically) include the 200m in Brazil.

    1. As a reader I think it’s excellent news too David. As a publisher through KDP I’m delighted, it’ll bring a bit more visibility to where sales are happening! I can’t wait for a Kindle Store Ireland, I really can’t!
      Eoin

      1. Yeah – we only get 35% royalties on those sales, which make up a decent minority of mine (around release time at least).

        I wouldn’t say it’s exactly TOP of Amazon’s priority list, although I don’t see why they couldn’t have just lumped us in with the UK store, like they did with Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein for the German store. Surely the territorial restrictions issue wasn’t that insurmountable.

  3. David,

    I’ve heard two possible explanations for that. 1) is that they have more sophisticated hardware and software set up in the US and can tackle multiple currencies/vat etc from there more easily than from the UK (of course that explanation requires them to be using UK servers for UK Kindle store) 2) is that the .1% of books that have separate rights deals for the UK and for Ireland held them back. I’m not sure whether one of these is viable, but I suspect other reasons, namely the market is so small it hardly matters!
    Eoin

  4. It would be great, Eoin, if you devoted a blog post to exactly where we stand in Ireland now re buying from amazon,from the kindle, google, buying the nook and from the nook etc. ?

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