France

Amazon Steals Everyone’s Thunder Again (But Quietly)

Fascinatingly clever (if predictable in many ways) move from Amazon to extend the reach of its Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) to the UK, Germany and France. By doing so it demonstrates very clearly that it is Amazon who is really driving the pace of development in ebook adoption and ebook retail. What’s more, it is making clear that its rivals are struggling to match its services to authors and readers within their own ecosystems. As the focus of ebook growth moves rapidly beyond the USA (has moved already in truth), Amazon is making the case for giving it exclusivity even more compelling.

Amazon.com, Inc. today announced that the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library is coming to the UK, Germany and France later this month, bringing Kindle owners with a Prime membership over 200,000 books to borrow for free as frequently as a book a month, with no due dates. Independent authors and publishers using Kindle Direct Publishing KDP who enroll their books in KDP Select can be included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library in the UK, Germany and France, as well as the US. With the new lending libraries launching this month, the KDP Select fund has been increased by $100,000 to $700,000 in October, with a larger increase anticipated in November. Authors will earn money every time their book is borrowed from any of the lending libraries – in September, authors earned $2.29 per borrow, which is more than many KDP books earn per sale.

via Amazon Media Room: Press Releases.

What amazes me the most about this move is just how dangerous it is for the ebook retailing rivals who have yet to open their doors to self-published content. In reality only Kobo has a fully functional platform for self publishing authors beyond the USA (Apple does too, but only to the extent that those who have a nice Mac can access their iBookstore, but not everyone has a Mac).

Nook’s platform is US only, though the talk is that this will change soon, the longer B&N & Microsoft exclude non-US citizens from the service, the longer Amazon has to lock in exclusive content for three months at a time. It’s not that the content individually is necessarily compelling, but given the wide field of talent in question, some is sure to be winning material, even if much of it isn’t great. The trick is, of course, that Amazon is armed with the tools to sort, grade and sift through this mass of titles and to promote, suggest and even work with the best (or just the most saleable, let’s not forget that the goal is money-making not literature spreading).

I’ve talked before about how important authors are to the success of an epublishing platform and ecosystem. Sometimes I think the retailers agree with me on this, other times I think they only pay lip service to the idea. Perhaps that’s a lingering snobbery regarding self publishing authors (which is foolish, idiotic and wrong-headed in an age when some of the biggest writers are rapidly moving towards self publishing, are already self publishing or have emerged from the self publishing space). Perhaps it is a desire to avoid dealing with so many small accounts and the headaches of customer service and platform development that entails. Who knows, but the longer these ecosystems remain closed shops to direct author engagement the larger a lead they allow Amazon to build up on them.

Every author Amazon signs up for KOLL is three months of exclusive sales for Amazon, three months lost revenue for their rivals. More importantly it is three months of sales data and analysis for Amazon that no-one else will have. That’s especially important when a title is loaded into KDP & KOLL for the first time, before getting a look in elsewhere. What will happen when one of those sign ups turns out to be the next EL James? What will happen is that Amazon will sign that author up directly, before the KOLL period ends and the game, for that author, is up for the other platforms.

It is not just dangerous to rival retailers though. If Amazon succeeds in convincing enough authors that KDP & KOLL are the way forward and along with them, exclusivity, companies like Smashwords and other aggregators of self published content will be put in the position of having to justify their offering. As long as a vibrant market for content persists of course (and despite this move, we do have a vibrant market for content) everyone has room to move and grow.

So yes, this move is illuminating, it suggests that Amazon is still the pace setter and is capable of moving faster and more aggressively than anyone else (still, after five years). Kobo has started something of a price war for self published authors though, by offering a higher royalty to authors who use their self publishing platform. If this keeps self publishing writers committed to an non-exclusive policy then it will have been a wise move. I’m sure it is a smart response from a smart company, even if it is one that admits to a certain weakness in terms of the capability of their platform, but then competition doesn’t (and indeed shouldn’t) always mean matching your rivals move, but finding clever and novel ways to best them where your strengths lie.

What that in mind, Kobo and other Amazon rivals would do well to pay attention to Baldur Bjarnason‘s piece on FutureBook about how Ebook publishing platforms are a joke, pay attention that is and offer some of the services he mentions to self publishers asap.

Advertisements

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 

Quick Link | Surprise! Hachette Livre Enlists Google to Scan/Sell 40-50,000 OOP Titles

An apt headline this:

It is somewhat surprising that Hachette will enter into such a deal, considering the company already owns an e-bookstore, Numilog, which it acquired in 2008 and that already offers some 55,000 titles for download in a variety of formats. But earlier this year, Hachette struck a partnership deal with Ingram’s subsidiary Lightning Source to open a POD center in Maurepas, opened in partnership with Lightning Source – a likely source for the fulfillment of the aforementioned titles and may be a possible motivating factor behind the deal.

via Surprise! Hachette Livre Enlists Google to Scan/Sell 40-50,000 OOP Titles.

Go Read This | French indies sign petition against Hachette’s iBookstore agreement | theBookseller.com

Interesting news item from The Bookseller today. It’s such a mix of valid and to me misguided thinking.

On the one hand they ask the most pertinent quetion of the next few years: Do We Want To Live Without Bookstores?

Yet on the other they seek to retain their protected status and fixed prices something I’ve never really been a fan of.

The petition, entitled ‘Does Hachette Livre want to do Without Booksellers?’ and reported by the French trade weekly Livres Hebdo, says the joint advertising campaign by Apple and France’s

largest publisher to promote the launch of the iPad in France on 28th May was considered by booksellers “as a sign of great disdain”.

The agreement between the two undermined “the need for publishers to fix retail book prices and resistance to the risk of domination or a quasi-monopoly by one or two large American distributors that impose their terms”.

via French indies sign petition against Hachette’s iBookstore agreement | theBookseller.com.

Go Read This | France pioneers ‘crowdfunded’ publishing | Books | guardian.co.uk

Fascinating idea. Reminds me of the Hol Art Books Team Publishing way of publishing, though Hol Art contributors take a much more active role:

The publishers are now looking for co-editors to help fund publication of the books. Each co-editor must invest €11 in their chosen title, and will then be able to discuss the book with its author on Éditions du Public’s forum, following each stage as it is written. Each title has six months to sign up 2,000 co-editors and some are already proving more popular than others: Tavignot’s thriller has 45 subscribers, while Hammer has just two.

via France pioneers ‘crowdfunded’ publishing | Books | guardian.co.uk.

Quick Link | Top 5 Irish people who almost changed history « Irish History Podcast

The Irish History podcast is a great resource. Another smashing post today!

In true European colonial style Daniel paid as much attention to the nearly 2,500 year old accounts of Herodotus as he did to local knowledge. His journey from the outset was plagued by disasters. Firstly African Merchants tried to kill him as they could foresee the threat posed by European trade and after escaping with his life he subsequently lost all his baggage in a fire.

via Quick Link | Top 5 Irish people who almost changed history « Irish History Podcast.

Bozo Sapiens: Operation Charnwood: Saturation

I do love the writing and tone of the Bozo Sapiens pieces!

The lesson of World War I was that huge artillery barrages on entrenched positions achieve little. Armor was the answer – but the British were short of armor. They decided instead on a huge bombardment from the air. The hope was that a precise but devastating raid on key points would clear the way for a swift and direct infantry attack

via Bozo Sapiens: Operation Charnwood: Saturation.