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February 22, 2020

Welcome to Publish Global #2 and #3 Bumper Edition


A double edition of Publish Global to catch up on essential global news for indies


We kick off this bumper edition of Publish Global #2 and #3 with a reminder that I compile and write this from The Gambia, West Africa, where the accepted conventions of time and calendar are guidelines, not set in stone.

Life in the “Third World” is a daily triumph of hope over experience, and especially so through November-December when the ACE undersea cable that brings the internet to this part of the world developed a fault, requiring a maintenance vessel to arrive and fix the problem.

No sooner had that happened than a new fault developed and we again had to wait for the vessel to arrive and repairs effected. All of which left me running on a fraction of my already challenging internet capacity, where just opening emails was sometimes impossible, letting alone keeping up with the StreetLib-TNPS newsletters.

Then 2020 arrived and just as everything seemed to be back on track a new spate of problems, from political riots to day-long electricity blackouts, conspired to thwart the Publish Global schedule.

Hopefully you’ll find Publish Global #2 worth waiting for, not least because it also encompasses Publish Global #3, which was planned for January.and we'll keep to something resembling a regular schedule through 2020. 

So be warned this edition is long, but chock full of all the recent developments every internationalist indie author needs to be aware of. 

Smashwords launches "Presales" initiative


Presales - not to be confused with "pre-orders"



As ever, we start this issue of Publish Global with news from our fellow aggregators, to ram home the point that this is not just a StreetLib promotional vehicle. If there's any StreetLib news we'll tag that on at the end.

The year ended with Smashwords announcing a bold new initiative that, while aimed primarily at its core self-publishing audience, has potential to impact the wider publishing industry. I covered the story in depth over at TNPS and paste that coverage below. If you read the TNPS post then not much new here. Skip to the next item. 


From TNPS December 4:

In the battle to stand out in the ever more competitive US indie author aggregator arena the key players are constantly innovating with new ways of grabbing author attention and offering added value.

This week comes the latest ploy from Smashwords: Presales.

Explains Smashwords in an email shot:

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could provide your most loyal readers the ability to purchase and read your next book before the general public?

And wouldn’t it be cool if ebook retailers gave readers the option to sign up for your private newsletter, rather than having your future relationship with the reader mediated by the retailer?

All this and more is possible today with Smashwords Presales, unveiled today in your Dashboard!

Watch your most loyal superfans go wild over the opportunity to purchase and read your next book release before the general public!


The Smashwords blog adds more detail:

Smashwords today unveiled Smashwords Presales, a new book launch tool that will thrill your readers.

Smashwords Presales leverages patent-pending technology to enable the creation, management and merchandising of ebook presales.  An ebook presale allows readers to purchase and read a new book before the public release date.

Presales are different than preorders.  Presales provide readers early and immediate access to an upcoming book release, whereas preorders merely act as product reservations where the customer must wait until the public release date to read a preordered book.


Several New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors have already expressed interest in running Smashwords Presales for future book launches.

“I’m planning to use Smashwords Presales to offer early releases to subscribers of my newsletter,” said R.L. Mathewson, a New York Times bestselling author of romance novels.  “When I asked my readers how’d they feel if I were to begin offering presale access as a perk for signing up for my newsletter, the response was overwhelmingly positive. My readers want this.”


Well, that’s the hype. What about the reality?

Smashwords authors (that is, authors who have their titles distributed through Smashwords) can launch either public or private presales through the Smashwords dashboard. The books will be visible privately via a dedicated link the author can share, or publicly in the Smashwords ebook store.

In theory the author, who will earn more per sale from Smashwords than from Amazon or Apple, etc, might want to make the book available for sale publicly before the Amazon (etc) launch, but that seems unlikely. Every sale on the mainstream sites helps boost the title’s chart position and visibility. The real value here is being able to offer private sales of the new book, via the dedicated Smashwords hyperlink, to reward fans who subscribe to the author mailing list, for example.

Books bought from the Smashwords store can be downloaded in all the major formats, including mobi and epub, so there are no comparability issues

Smashwords says the presales are compatible with KDP Select, which requires exclusivity.

Many authors publish exclusively via KDP Select. If you’re planning to release your next new book via KDP Select, you can run a public or private presale at Smashwords BEFORE you enroll in KDP Select.

A word of caution here. While authors can of course sell the ebook anywhere before enrolling the given in KDP Select, the author will need to make sure the hyperlinks are redundant and unusable from the moment the KDP enrolment begins or said author will be in breach of KDP t&cs.

The most interesting feature of the Smashwords presales option for me is the “email capture” facility:

Email capture – At checkout, Smashwords Presale customers are provided the option to grant Smashwords permission to share their email address with the author/publisher so you can subscribe them to your private mailing list. You can download customer email addresses from your Presale Dashboard. And we give you, the author/publisher, the optional ability to offer a special incentive price to the customer to encourage their subscription.

This all sounds great, but of course if you are using the private hyperlink option then it’s very likely you already have the email address of the reader.

What intrigues me here is the possibility Smashwords might extend this email capture option to all titles sold via the Smashwords store (ebook sold via a third party Smashwords partner will of course not have that option). 

Smashwords finishes with this “presale marketing tip”:

Use the promise of presale access to entice readers to sign up for your private mailing list. Let your subscribers be the first to learn about your future presale events. Everywhere you mention your newsletter (backmatter, social media, web site), advertise that subscribers will gain early access to exclusive presales for future releases. Most of your presales will come from your newsletter subscribers.

Again, the only real downside here is directing too much traffic to the Smashwords store. Good for Smashwords, but not for climbing that chart in the Kindle store. That’s a trade-off each author will need to make a judgement call on title by title.

But wait, what’s all this about patents pending? Let me wind up this post with the Smashwords take on the patent-pending technology behind this new option. This is excerpted from the Smashwords blog:

The technology, systems and methods behind Smashwords Presales are patent pending.  This is the first time in our 11-year history that Smashwords filed to protect one of our many inventions.

The features revealed today within the Smashwords Presales tool barely scratch the surface of the innovations covered within the 65-page patent filing.  Smashwords submitted its patent filing to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on October 22, 2019 under the title, “A PRODUCT RELEASE SYSTEM, METHOD AND DEVICE HAVING A CUSTOMIZABLE PREPURCHASE FUNCTION.”  I’m a co-inventor along with Smashwords CTO Bill Kendrick.  An amended filing was made November 20 to consolidate claims and request fast-tracked review by the USPTO.  The USPTO, per law, publicly discloses and publishes patent filings 18 months after the filing date.  This means the general public can read the full patent filing starting around March 20, 2021.  International filings are planned.


To be clear, presales, alternately known as pre-purchases or exclusive early releases, are not a Smashwords invention.  Since the dawn of time, and before there were labels for such product release events, product creators have enjoyed varying degrees of freedom to launch their product when and where they choose.

But now things become really interesting, because Mark Coker sees big possibilities for this new patent-pending tech:

Although the patent application – if granted – would provide Smashwords the exclusive right to exploit the invention as described in the application for a period of 20 years, it is not our intention to keep this to ourselves.  Smashwords is but a small fish in the small ocean that is book publishing.

What’s good for the creators of ebooks is also good for the creators of audiobooks, print books, digital music, games, software applications, art, consumer electronics, apparel, financial services, hospitality services and any other new product or service that can be listed, marketed, launched, and released early via online retail.


We want to accelerate the adoption and commercialization of the invention across the industry so every product creator, retailer, distributor and customer can benefit from this.  This means that in addition to our desire to make this invention available to Smashwords partners, competitors and others in the book publishing industry, we also want to make the invention available to product creators, retailers and distributors outside of publishing.

Therefore, effective immediately, we’ll begin opening up licensing discussions with online retailers inside and outside of book publishing.  Since the patent has not been granted yet, it means we’ll be licensing trade secrets, technology and know-how to help retailers build elements of the invention into their platforms so product creators can take advantage of it.


Retailer licensees will be offered the ability to issue limited sublicenses of the invention to their distributors, aggregators and product suppliers.

The first major retailer or subscription service to adopt this will gain the ability to onboard a lot of exclusive product listings, and to harness the energy and excitement of early access.

In the meantime, we’re not waiting for potential licensees to recognize the potential and build this into their platforms.  Smashwords Presales is available today in the Smashwords Store.  In the months and years ahead you’ll see Smashwords continue to build out Smashwords Presales with additional first-of-their-kind capabilities covered within the patent application.


Too soon to say if this will be game-changer for Smashwords, but it certainly is a welcome new innovation from one of the oldest indie-friendly aggregators.

PublishDrive adds new distribution channels


Partners with Hoopla and STARY's Dreame



Once again a catch-up item from December, as reported in TNPS:

At this time of year most western publishing operations are winding down for the Christmas and New Year holidays and news is increasingly few and far between, but PublishDrive has bucked that trend with a surprise announcement of two new distribution channels for its authors, taking its total to 27.

The library distribution channel Hoopla, part of Midwest Tape, is PublishDrive’s sixth library partner. In an email announcing the new partners PublishDrive explains:

Hoopla serves well over 2,000 library system providers and boasts 5,000,000 registered users. You can reach millions of new readers in the library market while earning through a Cost Per Checkout (CPC) model.

The CPC model is one whereby multiple consumers can simultaneously borrow the title, so there are no waiting lists at libraries. The model is popular with librarians and authors, but not all publishers share their enthusiasm even though it means potentially better royalties.

PublishDrive joins Draft2Digital in offering Hoopla as a distribution option.

More exciting for authors with global ambitions is PublishDrive’s venture into the reading apps arena with the partnership with STARY’s Dreame, which operates out of Singapore.

PublishDrive explains:

Dreame is an exciting new reading app that caters to female readers under the age of 40 in the English-speaking South Asian market. It features a lucrative episodic model that is performing well for genres such as Romance, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy. Readers pay to unlock each episode, giving you great royalty rates!

Read more about how reading apps like Dreame are tapping into an exciting new mobile-first market here:

PublishDrive joins StreetLib in offering STARY’s Dreame as a distribution option. 
 

Earlier this year PublishDrive moved from the standard aggregator model of free distribution in return for a fixed percentage of net revenue and instead offered a tiered paid subscription service (in return for 100% of the net royalties), with a free one-title-only “Try Out” option.

The PublishDrive email notes that while Hoopla distribution qualifies for all the tiers, Dream distribution qualifies only for the paid tiers.

Findaway adds Bookmate, Bookbeat, Axiell, AudiobooksNow and Bokus Play to its distribution portfolio


Or... Why you're going to regret that 7 year ACX contract



As reported in TNPS, Findaway has added new partner store to its distribution portfolio.

From TNPS: Findaway has consolidated its position as a leading audiobook aggrgegator with no less than nine new partnerships announced as 2019 wound up.

Findaway began October with an announcement that BajaLibros, Fuuze, Leamos and Bidi were being added to the partner list.as reported in Publish Global #1.

Now it winds down the year with five additional partners, taking its total partner list to more than 40, with AudiobooksNow, Axiell, Bokus Play, Bookbeat and Bookmate being added. The new partners will become effective within ninety days.

The Findaway Voices blog tells us more about the new partners.

Bookmate
Recipient of the Publishing for Digital Minds Innovation Award at the London Book Fair in 2014, Bookmate is a retail subscription service with over 6 million users, making them the largest ebook and audiobook subscription service in Eastern Europe. Bookmate also has a social networking element that allows subscribers to post and share within the app, as well as create themed ‘bookshelves’ to collect titles they’ve read and share thoughts on each book.

BookBeat
Backed by the UK publisher Bonnier Books, BookBeat has become the second-largest audiobook distributor in Scandinavia. They operate in Europe and currently have localized platforms that target users in Sweden, Finland, UK, and Germany, with more expansion planned. They already have over 250,000 paying customers, and that number will only grow as Europe’s audiobook demand increases. Based in Stockholm, BookBeat provides listeners with unlimited audiobooks for a single monthly fee of about $13. That’s a huge existing customer base that your audiobook is about to tap into!

Axiell
Axiell is library partner that has exclusive digital audiobook contracts for public libraries in both Sweden and Finland, and they’ve also partnered with big institutions such as The Carnegie Museum of Natural History and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (which isn’t far from Findaway HQ). Having done great things for libraries, they’re now also expanding into retail with a new brand: Bokus Play (up next).

Bokus Play
Bokus Play is a subscription service where its Scandinavian members pay 79 SEK/month (about $8 USD) for discounted a-la-carte purchases. It’s like paying for a wholesale club membership to get access to great deals. Bokus Play is a new brand in the audiobook industry, but their parent company, Axiell (mentioned above), is a seasoned pro. Bokus Play will offer a great marketplace for your audiobooks, and we are thrilled to launch with them.

AudiobooksNow
Developed by BookLender, the world’s leading e-book and audiobook rental service, AudiobooksNow wants to cause ripples in the audiobook market. Located in Baltimore, AudiobooksNow is focused on North America. They also provide a “Club Pricing Plan” ($4.99/month) where members pay for discounted a-la-carte purchases!


While it would be totally wrong to see the current surge in the audiobook markets as being at the expense of ebooks (ebooks are actually doing far better than you might think, reading some reports), there’s no question audiobooks are making strong headway globally, and Findaway is leading the charge in making these global outlets accessible.

In mid-December Findaway announced a further two partners, but it seems one announcement was premature and the operation not in fact ready, so let's just mention here the addition of Papaya FM.

But perhaps most exciting is not that Findaway has so many audiobook partners (hands up those who thought Audible, Apple and Google Play were the only shows in town?) but that there are so many more still to connect with, and so much more reach to come from existing partners.

Meanwhile Brazil’s Ubook is set for an IPO that will see it expand globally. And Poland’s Audioteka and Legimi both have further expansion on the cards.

Harry Illingworth starts work at DHH Literary Agency


Looking for new titles to represent



The year began with news that Harry Illingworth has left Goldsboro Books to join the DHH Literary Agency
 
Explained The Bookseller:

set to leave at the end of the year to become a full-time agent at The D H H Literary Agency.
After six years as a bookseller at the London bookshop and also working as an agent's assistant at the D H H Literary Agency, Illingworth will become a full-time agent on 6th January.
He is looking for genre fiction novelists who push boundaries and cross genres; high-concept crime and thrillers, upmarket speculative fiction, accessible science fiction and epic fantasy are always on his wish list.


D H H Literary Agency and Goldsboro Books m.d. David Headley said: “The D H H Literary Agency has gone from strength to strength in the past few years and my vision was always to invite Harry to move to agenting full-time. Harry has become one of the most highly respected new agents in the market and will be instrumental in shaping our genre fiction list. Harry has a fantastic eye for talent, an already stellar list of authors and his energy and ambition fits perfectly with the ethos of the agency.”

Illingworth himself said:

I’ll be hitting the ground running in January, getting out to see everyone, and in the meantime, I’d love to find a new cross-genre thriller or a meaty epic fantasy, but if the book has a strong hook and a clear voice, I’d love to see it.”

Illingworth can be reached on Harry.Illingworth@dhhliteraryagency.com. Submissions can be sent to HI.Submission@dhhliteraryagency.com.

Turkey's Istanbul Book Fair has disappointing turnout of "only" 605,000


The Turkish book market is ripe for digital disruption


How many books did you sell in Turkey last year? For most of us the answer will be few or none. But perhaps we just aren't trying hard enough.  

November's Istanbul International Book Fair was not quite as successful as in 2018, and 605,000 visitors as considered a big disappointment, but don't let that dissuade you from looking more closely at the Turkey book market opportunity. After all, 605,000 visitors is over 200,000 more than attended Frankfurt, and over half a million more than attended the New York and London Book fairs.

But as per the TNPS coverage, the country is ripe for digital disruption.

No time today to explore this in depth,so let me just note that with 69 million people online Turkey has more internet users than the UK, and in fact starts 2020 as the 13th largest country on the planet by internet users.

If you check your Amazon home page you'll see Turkey is one of the latest additions to the Amazon global family. But no, there's no books, Kindle Turkey store or Audible Turkey store, and it's unlikely that will change.

But books are popular, ebooks are available, and so are audiobooks and podcasts. I'll explore our indie options in Turkey in a future addition of Publish Global.

Meanwhile, make 2020 the year you spend some quality time looking at the Turkish book market opportunity.

Still need convincing? Check out the next item.

Over 2 million people attended Turkish book fairs in 2019


The global book market. It's so much bigger than you think.


A common theme explored over at TNPS is the invisible book market happening alongside the regular trade infrastructure of bookstores, online bookstores and digital book stores. In some part of the word it’s easy to dismiss book fair and festival sales as a sideline, barely worth keeping track of. 

But elsewhere book fairs and festivals are often the primary source of books for eager booklovers able to get to these events, and these sales, mostly untracked by the stats counters we rely on for our estimates of the global book market, can quickly mount up.

In Adana, the 13th Çukurova Book Fair ran January 4-12, the first of a string of huge book fairs that will be taking place across Turkey this year.

Last year the fair attracted a record 363,575 visitors, up 7% on 2018. This year, it drew a crowd of 368,344.

As mentioned in the previous item, in November 2019 the Istanbul Book Fair disappointed organizers by “only” attracting 605,000 visitors (it was expecting 1 million and had 750,000 turn out in 2018), but that’s just one of countless major literary events across Turkey that each attract many hundreds of thousands of visitors, all buying books outside the traditional retail infrastructure that informs our view of the scale of the global book markets.

Also in December 2019 the Eskişehir Book Fair drew a crowd of 87,124.

Next up in the TUYAP series of book fairs is the Karadeniz Book Fair (February 15-23), which pulled in 218,000 in 2019.

Then comes the Bursa Book Fair in March (7-15), which in 2019 drew a record crowd of 324,000.

In April it’s the turn of the Izmir Book Fair, which in 2019 attracted a record 512,743 visitors.

In June we have the East Anatolia Erzurum Book Fair. No numbers for that.

But we do know the numbers for October’s Diyarbakir Book Fair, which attracted a record 175,800 visitors in 2019.

More on the Turkish book market opportunity in the next item. Here just to say, no, participating in and selling books at these events is not going to be an option for most indies. But what they illustrate is the potential in these markets, and for those taking a long-term, career-focussed view, that's what matters..

Most of us will have zero chance to participate in and sell at events like these, but by understanding the huge groundswell of interest in books and reading happening beyond our own shores we can better weigh up the pros and cons of tracking down a foreign rights agent or directly approaching publishers i these countries, as well as taking the easy option and just making sure our books are available as widely as possible..

Turkish book market on the rise, and strong numbers from Storytel Turkey 


The global book market. It's so much bigger than you think.



One final visit to Turkey before we move on.

The 2019 Turkish book market numbers were announced last month, and it's good news mostly, with a 3.16% rise in revenue last year. And Storytel Turkey, while working from a low base, having not long launched in the country, reports a 315% (yes, three hundred and fifteen) rise in downloads, and expects to maintain 50% momentum this year.



Click on the image above for more about Storytel Turkey.

But let's focus here on the main Turkish book market where, as reported by Hurryet Daily News,  independent publishers in the country have published 423 million books in 2019, compared to 410 million in 2018.

The figure for new books published in 2019 was 68,000-70,000. This figure was 66,000 in 2018 and 60,000 in 2018.

Now, what follows may at first glance seem a reason not to bother with the Turkish and other emerging book markets, but hold that thought.

A book in Turkey costs around $2.5, while a book in Europe costs around $15.

The latter point is particularly noteworthy, because so often we talk about the global book market in revenue terms and lose track of the volume aspect, which can warp our perspective.

Take the example list prices referenced here.

10,000 books sold in Turkey at $2.50 brings in $25,000 revenue. 10,000 books sold in Europe at $15 brings in $150,000.

At first glance it’s a no-brainer. Europe is the best deal for publishers. But without knowing the profit margins and production costs, and also factoring in living costs, that assumption could be way off the mark.

The same issue arises with audiobooks, where there is endless excitement about how audiobooks are raking in cash as against ebooks which supposedly have plateaued.

But we see ebooks selling at $0.99, $2.99 and $10 and we know the production costs once the story itself is finalised are negligible.

With audiobooks we might expect to pay $30 a shot. For the same money we could buy 30, 10 or 3 ebooks. But the production costs for audio are always higher, so which is the better deal?

More importantly, which is the better selling book?

The book that sells three copies in audio format and brings in $90 list price, or the ebook that sells 90 copies at $0.99 and brings in $90?

Coming full circle to Turkey, it’s easy to dismiss the Turkish book market as insignificant when compared to the US or UK or Germany, but without comparing population demographics, relative incomes, publishing costs and margins and a host of other factors we cannot have a meaningful comparison.

Zero-fees uploads at Ingram Spark


Until end March


There's no question Amazon's KDP Print makes it easy to produce and sell paperback books via it's Print On Demand (POD) facility. And for many indies the fact that Amazon will give us a free ISBN is a bonus.

But KDP Print carries some baggage when it comes to getting our books taken seriously by bricks & mortar stores.

Which is where alternative POD services like IngramSpark come in.

But there are two downsides to IngramSpark. You have to provide your own ISBN, and there are set-up fees for each title.

The ISBN problem isn't easily got around, but nor is it likely a major problem for high-end indies, who will know the value of having our own ISBNs. So let's address that other nuisance - set-up fees.

Right now - but only until end March 2020 - the set-up fees can be waived simply by using the code NANO2020.

And yes, this code can be used for as many titles as we have ready to go (and have our own ISBNs for).

N.B. Looking at the website promo that is not clear. but I have had this confirmed by IngramSpark: the NANO2020 code can be used for multiple titles. But only until end March.

It's likely the promotion will resurface in November 2020 and run through to March 2021, but no guarantees there, and anyway, that would be a summer of Ingram sales missed out on.

December's Delhi Comic Con demonstrated India's vibrant comic and graphic novels market


And it's just 1 of 5 major Indian comic conventions each year



From TNPS in December: The annual Delhi Comic Con, which ran this year from December 20 through 23, is a reminder, if needed, that while the western publishing industry is closing down for Christmas and New Year, in other parts of the world it’s business as usual.

The 1-day pass will set you back Rs 599 ($8.50), which is a bargain when you consider it comes with a limited-edition Archie Comic, a Marvel Avengers Bag and an exclusive poster.

The SuperFan 3-day is a tad more expensive at Rs 1999 ($28) but, explains Business World India, will net you,

a specially crafted SuperFan Box, loaded with a Thanos Funko-Pop, Iron Man tee, Avengers bag, a Captain America badge, a limited-edition Archie Comic Book, and an exclusive poster.

Among the international and domestic artists at the event were:

Melbourne-based digital artist Kode Abdo, better known as #Bosslogic; Illustrator Chad Hardin who works for DC Comics and Harley Quinn series; and Asian American artist/designer Bernard Chang, who has illustrated books for Marvel and DC Comics, including X-Men, New Mutants, Cable, Deadpool, Superman, Supergirl, and Wonder Woman.

Joining them at the show were the leading Indian comic book publishers, illustrators and writers like Abhijeet Kini (Abhijeet Kini Studios), Gaurav Basu (Acid Toad), Vivek Goel (Holy Cow Entertainment), Rahil Mohsin, Shubham Khurana (Corporate Comics), Ravi Ahuja (Bullseye Press), Saumin Patel and creators of popular Indian webcomics like Sailesh Gopalan (Brown Paperbag Comics), Bhagya Mathew (Awkwerrrd) and Sumit Kumar (Bakaramax).

Among the Delhi Comic Con exhibitors (were),

DC Comics and Kodansha by Penguin Random House, Marvel Comics by Hachette, Viz Media by Simon and Schuster, Raj Comics, Scholastic, Crossword Bookstores, Bloomsbury Publishing, Campfire Graphic Novels, DK Publishing, The Souled Store, Planet Superheroes, Epic Stuff, Macmerise, Mad Fat Monkey and Funko by Wizplex.

The India comic con season will wind up in February with the debut comic-con for Ahmedabad, having began with the Hyderabad Comic Con in October, the Bengaluru Comic Con in November and the Mumbai Comic Con in December.

Those brands should be sufficient to remind us that India is receptive to content from around the world, and for fantasy authors, is especially inviting. 

Between the five Indian comic cons total footfall is expected to be around 200,000, on par with America's biggest comic con in New York.

But if you're thinking, Good Old USA, always the biggest and best, my guess is at least a couple of these Indian comic cons will individually beat New York in the next decade.

If that sounds far-fetched, consider the next item, where we take a look at the world's biggest comic con. And no, it is not New York.

The world's biggest comics event, with 280,000 visitors in 2019, is in... Brazil


The global book market. It's so much bigger than you think.



From TNPS: I often talk here about a Global New Renaissance, and this week we’ve seen a clear example of that in action as the latest news from the US comics industry was rolled out for Christmas.

DC’s movie adaptation of the comic classic Shazam is getting a sequel at last, courtesy of Warner Bros. Zachary Levi will star.

Meanwhile Star Wars: the Rise of Luke Skywalker was releases for Christmas..

At new behind-the-scenes featurette was released that includes interviews with Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), and Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) talking about their off-screen moments during filming.

For those who prefer their fantasy Earth-based, who could resist the latest news about Godzilla vs. Kong?

Where? At the Sao Paulo Comic Con. The place to be for all the latest from the global comics scene

Wonder Woman 1984 took the audience by storm Sunday but Godzilla and King Kong left their mark too.

Footage of the goliaths’ confrontation in Godzilla vs. Kong was shown in a montage of 2020’s coming attractions from Warner Bros. 

And then there’s the aforementioned Wonder Woman herself: The new trailer for Wonder Woman 1984, like all the above, was shown first not in New York or San Diego, home to the biggest comic cons in the US, but in Brazil.

There were plenty more. The Eternals, for example.

Last year the Brazil event saw the trailers debuts for Men In Black: International and Spiderman: Far From Home.

The São Paulo Comic Con Experience, known as CCXP, has only existed since 2014, and Brazil is perhaps not on most people’s radar as a comic-loving nation. Yet back in 2017 the 4th CCXP blew apart conventional comic con wisdom when it clocked 220,000 visitors, sinking the New York Comic Con’s record of 200,000.

That in turn of course made even more industry professionals and fans sit up and take notice, resulting in a renewed focus on São Paulo from the big American players, and that in turn led to a new record being set for CCXP footfall, with 280,000 visitors this year.

But size aside, this is not such a rare event. Comic cons around the world are getting bigger and better each year, thanks to digital.

That is, new reach from digital comics and graphic novels, new reach from digital video, and new reach through social media which propels these global comic cons to new heights each year.

We are witnesses to, and participants in, a Global New Renaissance quite unprecedented in human history.

Be part of it.

Add music to podcasts, videos, book-promos, etc


A top tip from Jane Friedman's Electric Speed newsletter



From the Jane Friedman Electric Speed newsletter:

A source of high-quality music for your podcasts, videos, and more.

Music Maker is a one-man company that offers a repository of digital music you can use for commercial purposes. The free universal pack includes 35 music tracks. A mega-pack of 105 tracks with updates costs $49.


Please note neither Publish Global, TNPS nor publisher StreetLib receive any payback for any services mentioned,

Kate Nash Literary Agency


Keep up with literary agency news with Publish Global



At the Kate Nash Literary Agency it was reported that Lina Langlee has been promoted to literary agent at the Kate Nash Literary Agency, while Robbie Guillory has also been promoted.

Literary agent Kate Nash, who won the 2019 Literary Agent of the Year Award, said,

Lina (Langlee) has taken on a variety of talented authors and struck excellent deals for several, all within her first year at our agency. She has moved award winning Christina Courtney to Headline and sold debut author Andriena Cordiani to Atom. Lina has quickly built close and trusting relationships with her clients and with editors.”

Managing assistant Robbie Guillory has been appointed to the junior literary agent role.

Managing director Justin Nash said,

“Robbie has quickly shown he is a talent spotter as well as having authors best interests at the centre of everything he does. Robbie will be working now to start to acquire his own authors as well as continuing to support Kate Nash’s client list.”

New and promoted agents are usually a good bet for authors with an attractive proposal, be it for a new book or a proven bestseller, so it really can pay off to keep an eye on the latest agency news.

As Publish Global gets into a more regular schedule I'll be doing my best to keep internationalist agency news to the fore.

It’s now five years since Amazon last opened a Kindle store


Or... Why Going Wide and is essential if you want to reach a truly global audience



This from TNPS  as we said goodbye to the 2010s:

November 12 marked the fifth anniversary of the Kindle Netherlands store, and five full years since a new Kindle store was opened. Will we ever see another?

Back in the heady days of 2010-14 it seemed the Amazon Kindle store was on a mission to take ebooks to the world.

From just the USA in 2007, Amazon opened Kindle stores in the UK in 2010, then dashed off four in 2011 (Germany, France, Italy, Spain) and five in 2012 (Japan, China, Canada, Brazil, India). In 2013 the pace slowed to just two new Kindle stores (Mexico and Australia), and in 2014 just one (Netherlands).

Since then, nothing. Apple in the same period delivered fifty-one global ebook stores and Google Play seventy-five.

Sadly the Apple and Google Play expansions have also ground to a halt, but let’s stick with Amazon here, as the supposed global giant of e-commerce (Alibaba and Tencent might disagree).

It’s not that Amazon has given up on its global expansion plans. Far from it.

But chances are, if you focus on Amazon from a publisher’s perspective, you didn’t even notice that Amazon is now in 17 countries.

17? Those will be Australia, Brazil. China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and the USA. In addition Amazon has a marketplace presence in Vietnam, and is working towards expansion in Indonesia.

Singapore, Turkey and the UAE all launched after the Netherlands (2014), but none have a Kindle store.

Why? Well, there’s no official explanation, but the obvious conclusion is that Amazon does not see books and ebooks as a worthwhile investment in the newest markets.

It’s not that books are not profitable for Amazon, but as I’ve noted many times, Amazon’s publishing arm runs on print rails. The Kindle store was created to serve mainstream publishers wanting to deliver digital copies of their print books, and with every Kindle store launch there has been an enormous amount of negotiation with big publishers to bring digital content into the store.

Self-publishers and small presses all benefitted, of course, but they were never the target.

Fair to say the Kindle Netherlands launch came too little too late for the Dutch, who has been enjoying ebooks from other players while Amazon was busy elsewhere. In consequence the Dutch Kindle store, serving an online population of just 16 million people, has never really made waves, and that perhaps helped Amazon’s decision to call it a day with the Kindle expansion programme.

The Kindle expansion programme? Before we get to that, let’s consider Amazon Music Unlimited, which only launched in 2016.

Today Amazon Music Unlimited is available in Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Cyprus, Malta, Czech Republic, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Iceland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden, and Gibraltar.

Meantime Amazon Video has gone much further, and has since late 2016 been offering video streaming of the latest TV and films to more than 200 countries.

But as we start our fifth year of no new Kindle stores being opened one has to wonder if Amazon’s stated goal, gathering cyber-dust on the Amazon website,

to have every book, ever published, in any language available for Kindle customers to purchase and begin reading in less than 60 seconds,

has been permanently shelved.

None of which alters the reality that Amazon is one of our most valued assets, and for most markets is still the first option to be thinking about. But as we widen our global horizons so we must understand that Amazon will not always be our partner.

Nextory now offering digital subscription in 6 countries


While many indies look the other way, streaming services offer us reach previously unavailable



The Sweden-based digital books streaming service Nextory entered three new markets as 2019 closed, adding Denmark, Austria and Sweden to its existing list of Sweden, Finland and Germany.

As reported in the previous edition of Publish Global, Nextory has been doing rather well.



No room here to explore Nextory in detail,but rest assured we'll be taking a closer look at the smaller Nordic subscription services as 2020 unfurls.

Getting ebooks into Denmark's public library system. Meet eReolen



Be a big fish in a small pond



Back in the early part of the last decade  my common manta in advocating Going Global was "Being there is half the battle." That is to say, the simple act of making sure our content is available and accessible around the world is a prerequisite for building a a global readership.

The usual counter-arguments from those who preferred the path of least resistance were:

a) I'm already global through Amazon and don't see many international sales, so what's the point? And,

b) It's impossible to sell books if we don't market them 24/7 and I'm too busy doing that in the US to even think about it elsewhere,

Both arguments fall down in the face of reality.

First, Amazon's Kindle store isn't even visible in much of the world, and it only has a dozen or so localised stores. Big it is. Important it is. G66lobal it is not.

But more important is the myth of marketing. Sure, if we spend all day marketing we will likely get more sales. But there is such a thing as organic growth, which seasoned indies understand and enjoy the benefits of, and that newer authors just don't get.

Organic growth and "being there" go hand in hand. One cannot happen without the other.., and for anyone with any doubts, see the next item on Joanna Penn's global Kobo sales.

But first to take a quick look at Denmark's public libraries, and in doing so to separate the serious internationalist indies from the Path-of-Least-Resistance crowd.

Denmark? If you're thinking a country with a population fewer than London or New York isn't worth bothering with, then think again.

In 2018 3.8 million ebooks and audiobooks were read and listened through Denmark’s public libraries, up 26% percent from 2017. It looks very likely the numbers will be higher still for 2019.

In fact digital uptake across the Nordics is stellar - far higher than anywhere else in the world - and that means relatively easy access to the Nordic book markets for indie authors. The Nordic populations also probably speak English better than we do, making the region especially exciting for those who write in English and worry about translation costs on their global adventure.

I'll take a closer look at other Nordic opportunities in a future edition of Publish Global. Here just to zoom in on Denmark's public libraries, and how we can get into them.

First, the bad news. Denmark's public libraries are supplied by eReolen the Danish equivalent of OverDrive, and right now no indie-friendly aggregators are partnered with eReolen. But watch this space...

The good news is eReolen has two arms: the domestic Danish arm, and eReolen Global, which is an app where international content - and especially English-language ebooks - are available to Danish library users. That in itself speaks volumes about how widespread interest in English-language books is in Denmark (and repeat across much of Europe).

And here's more good news, While eReolen Denmark isn't an easy option for authors outside Denmark, eReolen Global is. In fact, you're probably already halfway there if you are with OverDrive, because OverDrive powers eReolen Global. 

The global book market. It's so much bigger than you think.

Publishers Weekly self-pub arm BookLife launches paid reviews option



At $1.30 a word it's not cheap, but it could be worth it for some



If you area self-published author and don’t mind waiting 4-6 weeks, and handing over some cash, you can now get professionally written public-facing reviews from the US-based trade journal Publishers Weekly.

Public-facing? That is to say, reviews written with readers in mind rather than trade professionals, so ideal for the retailer product pages.

Publishers Weekly explained,

BookLife Reviews differ from Publishers Weekly reviews in that they are longer—approximately 300 words, compared to 200-250 words for a Publishers Weekly review—and are focused on reaching readers rather than booksellers and librarians.

Authors are guaranteed to receive a review, and may elect whether to have it published in the monthly BookLife supplement, which is bound into the print edition of Publishers Weekly. 


The review process will take 4-6 weeks and will be regarded as a trade review by retailers, rather than classified as a reader review and relegated to the reader reviews section.

For that reason the opportunity is going to appeal to many self-publishers, but we should be clear BookLife Reviews will be written by Publishers Weekly reviewers, but,

remain distinct from Publishers Weekly reviews. The service is designed to help self-published authors reach readers by providing them with credible and reliable assessments of their work from reviewers with expertise in their genres and styles.

Publishers Weekly adds,

Self-published authors are also still invited to submit their books to Publishers Weekly for review consideration at no cost.

For those unfamiliar, Booklife is a monthly supplement dedicated to self-publishing. The new self-published books reviews service will have Rose Fox, a long-standing Publishers Weekly reviewer and advocate of self-publishing, overseeing the venture.

Fox said,

An honest and detailed review from BookLife Reviews highlights a book’s strengths and analyses its potential for reaching an audience while giving the author a valuable assessment of ways that future editions or future books can be made even better. Our insights help each author target their marketing efforts to the readers who are most likely going to enjoy their book. Marketing can be complicated and daunting; a BookLife review will help to guide the author through.

Each BookLife Review consists of:
•    Three full paragraphs (about 300 words) of plot summary, critique, and analysis of your book, including an assessment of which readers are most likely to enjoy the book.
•    An honest, positive one-sentence takeaway that summarizes the reviewer’s opinion of the book’s best aspects and likely audience.
•    Comparison (comp) titles and/or authors.
•    Letter grades (from A+ to C) for five production elements: cover art, interior design and typography, illustrations (if applicable), editing, and marketing copy.
Superlative books may be selected as Editor's Picks, indicated by a lightning bolt (⚡️) next to the title. This is an unbiased indication of truly outstanding quality.


At no additional cost, you may choose to have the review published in the monthly BookLife section of Publishers Weekly, putting your book in front of 68,000 publishing professionals as well as millions of online readers, and syndicated to numerous outlets where readers, booksellers, and librarians look for information on exciting new books.

All this sounds great, but how much is this going to cost the author?

$399 is the answer. 

The bright side is that if the review is positive it’s likely to be a worthwhile investment, as the review can be cited pretty much anywhere, to add credibility to the work. And if the review is not what the author hoped for, it can be quietly set aside. No-one will know but the author and reviewer.

More about the BookLife paid reviews here.

It’s worth adding that for half the price, just $149, authors can submit their titles to PW Select. This is not a review service but a promotions service, whereby the book (cover and synopsis) will appear in:

- Publishers Weekly's print and digital edition
- the home page of PublishersWeekly.com
- the home page of BookLife.com
- BookLife's weekly email newsletter to 21,000 recipients
- BookLife's Twitter and Facebook channels

OverDrive acquired by private equity firm. Is Kobo next for the chop?


Japan's Rakuten owned both Kobo and OverDrive. Now it has sold OverDrive.

 


When it comes to hiding bad news, Christmas Day must come high on the list of best times to choose. In fairness, the release date and time for the press release was actually 6.30 PM on Christmas Eve, but seriously, how can we view this as anything other than an attempt to keep this story low profile?

First the hopefully good news: KKR, a “leading global investment firm”, or more passively a “private equity firm”, depending on which report you read, will be the new parent of OverDrive.

Okay, that might fill everyone with confidence, but investment firms can make sound publishing industry moves, as we saw with Waterstones in the UK and are currently seeing with Barnes & Noble in the US. And in fact KKR owns RBMedia, possibly an outfit many indies have never heard of, but that is in fact one of the world's leading producers of audiobooks.

It was back in November 2011 that Rakuten got into the ebook game, paying $315 million for Canada-based Kobo, and there have been very few obvious downsides since. Kobo has gone from strength to strength, most recently getting into audiobooks, and after Rakuten acquired OverDrive, which supplies global libraries with ebooks an audiobooks, the synergies came naturally.

It’s more than likely the existing practical synergies between Kobo and OverDrive will continue. For example, authors using the Kobo Writing Life self-publishing platform can distribute to OverDrive directly.

But why would Rakuten, if it plans to stay in the digital books sector, palm off OverDrive at all? After all, it was only in August 2018 that Rakuten Kobo partnered with WalMart, strengthening its position in the US market.

In 2019 OverDrive saw, yet again, record downloads of ebooks and audiobooks. (More on this in Publish Global #4)

OverDrive apps like Sora have proven extremely popular.

So again, why would Rakuten want to ditch this asset?

Is Rakuten looking to get out of the digital books market altogether? And might Kobo be next inline for an equity firm buyout?

At this stage we can only fervently hope KKR has big ambitions for OverDrive (and a lousy PR team), and on the other, hope that this is not the beginning of the end of the Rakuten Kobo partnership.

2020 just got a whole lot more interesting, and a whole lot more uncertain.

Cambodia Book Fair sees record attendance. Needs bigger venue


The global book market. It's so much bigger than you think.



Cambodia is probably on no indies' list of book markets to be thinking about, but just maybe you might want to think again after this.

In 2017 the Cambodia Book Fair attracted 50,000 visitors (which for the record is twice as many as the London Book Fair brings in, and also more than the New York Book Expo). 

In 2018 yjr Cambodia Book Fair drew 130,000 visitors. And in 2019 160,000



English-language sales were particularly vibrant. A reminder that, for those of us who write in English, our language is our greatest asset in growing our global audience.

And we stay with Cambodia for our next item.

Big Bad Wolf took 1 million English-language books to Cambodia and another 1 million to Myanmar in January


The global book market. It's so much bigger than you think.



Cambodia, Myanmar... These countries may as well not exist for the average indie fretting about how to game the system on Amazon, and for sure Amazon's Kindle store won't be seeing many sales from these countries.

But as professional indies we need to embrace the truly global opportunities unfolding, not just look for the low-hanging fruit. And Big Bad Wolf is an excellent study in global opportunities for selling English-language books in foreign lands.

In 2019 Big Bad Wolf debuted in the Myanmar capital Yangon, taking one million English-language books to an eleven day flash-sale. It sold books worth $1.8 million.

In 2020 Big Bad Wolf debuted in Cambodia. We don't have full figures yet, but we do know that the event attracted 50,000 visitors in just the first four days.

Click on the image below to see what TNPS had to say about lessons to be learned from Big Bad Wolf.

Gaming the system pays… on Amazon UK


Over 30% of the Amazon UK Top 100 Kindle ebooks are in breach of Amazon rules and BISG guidelines. Including Amazon’s own



From TNPS:

Back in March 2018 the BIC called on UK publishers not to game the system by abusing metadata. 

Amazon too makes clear that metadata abuse is unacceptable.

Except when it’s Amazon abusing the system, that is. At #3 in the Kindle UK charts as this post (went) live (was) a Thomas & Mercer title that is in breach of Amazon’s own rules.

First, some background: 

Rules are there to be broken. At least, that appears to be the thinking of many in the UK publishing industry.

BIC – Book Industry Communication – describes itself as,

an independent organisation set up and sponsored by the Publishers Association, Booksellers Association, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals and the British Library to promote supply chain efficiency in all sectors of the book world through e-commerce and the application of standard processes and procedures.

Unfortunately it seems many publishers only pay lip-service to BIC guidelines. Consider, for example the BIC Statement on Best Practice for Subtitle Field in Metadata Feeds, issued March 9 2018.

Said the BIC in its sternest voice:

Some publishers and other metadata providers are using the subtitle, and sometimes the title fields, in metadata feeds to carry marketing and promotional text. By this we mean using phrases such as ‘Sunday Times Best Seller’, ‘Gripping read from…’, ‘The Richard & Judy Book Club thriller 2017’, ‘The best thriller writer alive’, ‘Man Booker prize winner’ and so on. It is important for discoverability, good customer experience and an efficient data supply chain that these data fields reflect only the true title and subtitle text that appears on the title page.

The statement goes on,

There has been a significant escalation of this practice over the last twelve months, despite consistent feedback from BIC members across the book trade that this is causing substantial time-consuming work to correct at various points throughout the supply chain. BIC has seen numerous examples that are confusing and misleading for consumers trying to make a buying decision. 

Feedback received to date also reveals this poor practice is having an adverse effect on supply chain efficiency both in terms of the timing of product to market and costs incurred by retailers and aggregators having to remove the unwanted text.

The statement further notes that,

Amazon’s ONIX Submission Guidelines emphasise the importance of Title and Subtitle as they “drive many of the processes to build clear and customer-friendly detail pages. […] As a general rule, do not append anything else in [these elements] besides what actually appears on the [book].” Its KDP metadata guidance also states that title and subtitle in the metadata must match the book itself.

For additional clarity, Amazon spells out the guidelines for its KDP publishers:

Book title

Titles are the most frequently used search attribute. The title field should contain only the actual title of your book as it appears on your book cover. Missing or erroneous title information may bury valid results among extraneous hits. Customers pay special attention to errors in titles and won’t recognize the authenticity of your book if it has corrupted special characters, superfluous words, bad formatting, extra descriptive content, etc. Examples of items that are prohibited in the title field include but aren’t limited to:


•    Unauthorized reference to other titles or authors
•    Unauthorized reference to a trademarked term
•    Reference to sales rank (e.g., “bestselling”)
•    Reference to advertisements or promotions (e.g., “free”)


After the March 2018 BIC statement many UK publishers took not a blind bit of notice.

More than eighteen months later gaming the system by abusing the metadata rules is still par for the course. Fast forward end 2019 and its clear some publishers have no compunction about ignoring the BIC and Amazon’s own rules about metadata usage. The view seems to be, if no-one is enforcing the rules, why play by them?

Read more over at TNPS:

Scribd raised $58 million in funding. Brings in $100 million in revenue in 2019 from "strong and steady growth"



Indies treating digital subscription as a sideshow should think again



Scribd ended 2019 first by announcing $58 million in new capital as investors rushed to splash their cash in the digital books subscription sector, and then announcing revenues had risen from $75 million to $100 million in 2019, with CEO Trip Adler talking of "strong ad steady growth", sentiments echoed by pretty much all the subscription operators. Storytel, Bookbeat, Nextory, Bookmate, YouScribe, Ubook - the list goes on and on.

Even 24Symbols has been doing well, unlike its parent company which is in voluntary administration. (More on that story in the next issue of Publish Global.)

And niche market subscription services are also outperforming market expectations.

Epic! is a US-based children’s digital books subscription service that copped $30 million in new funding earlier this year to boost further it’s 1.7 million paying subscriber base.

Find out more about the recent Scribd stories via the following links (click on images).

As we start 2020 a reminder that there are 4.5 billion people online around the world. Just 312 million of them are in the USA – that means the USA makes up fewer than 7% of the world’s internet users.

Submitting to an agent?

 

Here's what might be happening at the agency end if the agent likes our book



Over at the BookEnds Literary Agency Jessica Faust offers some insights into what goes on at the agent’s end when they find a book they’d like to represent.

Making an offer of representation is more than simply picking up the phone and making the offer. For me, and many agents, it takes time and preparation as well as some research and sometimes re-reading.

I know I’m offering representation well before I finish the book, and yet it might take me a few days after finishing to finally make the call. It’s during this time I’m doing research and creating a vision and plan. I might also be getting second reads or re-reading parts of the book myself.

When I get on the call with an author I’m selling myself. Since I presumably really want this book and author, it’s important I sell my best self. This means knowing my stuff and being prepared for any questions or conversations that will arise. It means being prepared to impress.


While still in the middle of reading, I’m researching the author … 

I will even go so far as to make a submission list. I want a sense if someone just bought a book with this same hook, or how may nonfiction books there are on this exact subject ...

Having a plan ahead of time helps give me perspective on the viability of the project. Think of it this way, Ford doesn’t create a new car without a little research. I shouldn’t sell a book without doing my due diligence either.

All well and good so far, but next comes the bit many authors – especially successful indie authors who have built their success so far without an agent’s assistance – may hesitate. Revisions requested by the agent.


At which point you'll need to head over to the OP to read more as I'm well over my fair use quota

Jessica Faust is owner and president of BookEnds (founded 1995,  USA) and BookEnds is one of countless literary agencies we might want to be looking at as we review our career trajectories and look at the fast-growing global book markets.

While it’s certainly true that we don’t “need” agents or publishers to reach an audience, few if any of us can do it all on our own, and being open to the possibility of teaming with an agent to reach a distant publishing opportunity ought to be part of our strategy, even if we are already hugely successful in some markets.

Storytel launched in South Korea in December. Q3 subscribers were up 41%, revenue up 43%


Storytel is now in 20 markets And counting...

 


Already present in Singapore and India, the Sweden-based digital books streaming service went live with its third Asia market, in South Korea, with 50,000 audio titles on site.

Read full coverage from TNPS:



Here just a couple of excerpts that are pertinent to us as indie authors.

Ingrid Bojner, Storytel’s Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) said,

It’s exciting to go online in South Korea, a fast-paced and digitally cutting-edge market, where we hope to achieve the same success as in our previous markets.

With an online population of 49.2 million South Korea has of course been at the forefront of digital advances for several decades, and while many western publishers and authors have been looking the other way South Korea has also developed a vibrant digital books and reading market.

Would it be worth investing in Korean translations? There’s no simple answer to that. It depends on the book and its appeal, and what kind of realistic reach you can get in South Korea (North Korea of course is no-go area at this time).

POD titles will be shipped from the USA, always assuming there is a seller willing to supply South Korea.

Ebook access is limited. No aggregators have a partnership with any domestic Korean ebook stores at this time. The main home players are Ridibooks and Kyobo.

Neither Amazon nor Apple offer ebooks for South Korea. Koreans can buy from Kobo via the Kobo US store, where territorial rights permit, but both PublishDrive and StreetLib can get titles into South Korea through the Google Play South Korea store. 

Audiobook access has also been challenging, but with Storytel now live in the republic it means authors and publishers can get audiobooks into Storytel South Korea via Findaway or StreetLib.

Statista estimates the South Korea digital books market to be worth $554 million in 2019.

I’ll end this item with a quote from Serena Park, Storytel Country Manager for South Korea, who said,

I’m certain Storytel has the potential to be the next big leisure-time app for all South Korean families. It offers something for everyone. For instance at the moment, I’m listening to fiction-author Kim Ae-ran while my daughter enjoys listening to the Harry Potter series in English.

That last point is important for us. South Korea may not spring to mind as an English-language market but actually South Korea is one of the global market leaders in ESL (English as Second Language) materials, and English is the second language most Koreans aspire to.

Coming back to Storytel to wrap this item up, and with the South Korea launch Storytel now streams in 20 markets – Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, India, Italy. Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the UAE.

That’s a lot of reach to be missing out on if we are not taking going wide and global seriously. And - see next item - it's getting bigger every year.

Storytel aims for 40 markets by 2023. 1.5 million subscribers by end 2020


You can't put the digital genie back in the bottle



Storytel has announced its ambitions for the next few years.

2020 is intended to be a year of consolidation, with “only” 1-3 new country launches, but that will be followed by some serious expansion in 2021 through 2023 with a stated intention to reach twenty new markets by the latter year, taking the total to forty.

Revenue growth is expected to average 40% per year during the period, with 2020 seeing turnover reach SEK 2 billion ($210 million).

Subscribers numbers are expected to average 35% growth, with 1.5 million subscribers by end 2020.

Already profitable in five markets (Netherlands being the fifth profitable market as we started 2020), Storytel expects to reach profitability in 2-4 new markets this year, and states it anticipates to on average take five years per market to break even.

Storytel starts the year with a catalogue of 400,000 titles.

The global book market. It's so much bigger than you think.

Nook audiobook royalty now 50% via Findaway


In case you missed it



This announcement from Findaway came in November:

Effective today (November 1, 2019), your audiobook royalty rate for NOOK Audiobooks has increased from 45% to 50%.

Starting today, the audiobooks you distribute to NOOK Audiobooks through Findaway Voices will earn a 50% royalty rate from the list price you set. You'll notice a small update to our distribution agreement the next time you log in. There’s nothing else you need to do to receive this higher royalty rate. This is not a short-term promotion—it's a permanent change for everyone who distributes their audiobooks through Findaway Voices.

Amazon KDP has published over 2 million titles. Paid out over $300 million through the KU pot in 2019


But still we'll be told interest in ebooks is fading



The main recipients of the Kindle Unlimited pot are self-publishing authors, but the fund is shared between any author or publisher that uses KDP and enrolls in Select. This does not include A-Pub payments to its own Amazon imprint authors, which otherwise directly compete with indie author titles in Kindle Unlimited.

As 2019 ended it was announced KDP had published over two million titles in total, and in January we had the December KU pot payout announced, taking the grand total for 2019 comfortably over $300 million.

This of course just from Kindle Unlimited downloads, not regular sales.

A pertinent reminder that, while we can’t know just how big the self-publishing sector is, it cannot be lightly dismissed.

Read more here:

But consolidation, not expansion, is now the name of the game for KDP, and in the second half of this decade we've seen a clear fading of interest in the global possibilities of digital books, no matter how well they may be doing in the established markets.

Per an earlier item here in Publish Global, it’s over five years now since Amazon launched a new Kindle store anywhere in the world, and while KDP has expanded to include a limited POD service (which operates only in a handful of Amazon markets) language support remains extremely limited, demonstrating Amazon’s non-plans for the Kindle experience even as it expands its wider market operations (Turkey, Singapore, etc).

But with 2 million titles under its belt it's also safe to assume KDP will be around for a long while to come.

2019 UK print sales best since 2010


So much for the death of print...



From TNPS Jan 1: Nielsen’s latest figures for UK publishing 2019 show a remarkable story of resilience and stability for printed books in a tumultuous global book market that at the start of this decade many believed had no future.

December, reported the UK trade journal The Bookseller, saw the print market show 2.4% growth in revenue and a 0.4% bump in volume year on year, despite the absence of big-hitting books like Michelle Obama’s memoir that stormed the 2018 charts. All told 2019 saw 191.6 million print books sold for £1.66bn, the best revenue for UK print since 2010.

Back in 2010 ebooks were just beginning to be taken seriously in the UK, thanks to the launch of the Amazon Kindle UK store, and over the following years we saw triple-figure growth well in excess of any growth being reported nowadays for audiobooks.

Ebooks, combined with a seemingly imminent demise of the UK’s biggest bookstore chain, Waterstone’s (it had an apostrophe back then), had the UK publishing industry seriously worried. All the more so when Borders collapsed in the US.

But while the naysayers busily repeated tales of publishers re-arranging deckchairs on the Titanic, UK publishing metamorphosed into a new, more resilient, more adaptable creature that would prove quite able to ride out the coming storm, and we start the new decade with UK publishing in robust health, Waterstones (now without the apostrophe) doing rather well, audiobooks scaling new heights, and ebooks stable.

While there are still many challenges ahead, the UK publishing industry starts 2020 stronger than when it started the 2010s, with print and digital, if not quite in harmony, no longer seen as an either/or fight-to-the-bitter-end battle.

Rather, print and digital in its myriad incarnations are now seen as complimentary formats that publishers big, small and indie can benefit from.

And the real beauty of it is that these same publishers also have a huge global export market to supplement these UK sales, that is growing by the day.

2020 is going to be great year to be a publisher.

What Editors Want


Commissioning editors, that is



Via the Jane Friedman Electric Speed newsletter, Publish Global is delighted to report on What Editors Want, a UK-based podcast about what leading publishers look for in an author and book.
 
What Editors Want is a UK-based podcast that has so far featured editors from Bloomsbury, Granta, Faber & Faber, Fitzcarraldo Editions, Daunt Books, Atlantic Books, and others.

At which point a gentle reminder that Publish Global does not carry affiliate links, nor receive any pay-back for any services mentioned.
 

Saudi Arabia's Jeddah International Book Fair pulled in 441,000 visitors, taking total to 2.7 million over the past five years


The Arab book markets should be high on our priorities list in this new decade


The 5th Jeddah International Book Fair was the last major Arab book fair of 2019, and ended the year in style, drawing a crowd of 441,369 booklovers over ten days – an average of 44,000 per day, just missing the 2018 record of 475,000 visitors.
 
Prince Mishaal bin Majed, Jeddah governor and chairman of the fair’s Supreme Organizing Committee, said that over its five year duration the Jeddah International Book Fair has seen 2.7 million visitors in all.

Earlier in 2019 the Riyadh International Book Fair set a new visitor record, clocking over 1 million visitors, joining the ranks of Baghdad and Muscat and, this year, Algiers, although Algiers is usually a 2-million visitor show, like Sharjah.

There's a common misconception that Arabs don't read, but the book fair numbers say otherwise.

As this issue of Publish Global goes live the Cairo International Book fair is underway in Egypt. In the first four days it drew a crowd of 600,000 visitors. 

The global book market. It's so much bigger then you think.

Book fair snap-shot: 123,000 were at the Antwerp Book Fair in Belgium


The global book market. It's so much bigger than you think.



Overshadowed by its French and Dutch neighbours, Belgium is possibly not the first place that springs to mind when thinking about vibrant European book markets, but that could be to miss an exciting opportunity.

Through 2020 I’ll be taking a closer look at the smaller and micro-markets of Europe, which are full of surprises.

Here just to reflect on 123,000 people turning up at a book fair in Belgium.

It’s all to easy to fall for the faux narratives surrounding the publishing industry and conclude reading is yesterday’s past-time and that in the modern world of video streaming, music streaming and video games the book industry is clinging to survival.

The reality is rather different. Time after time after time book fairs and literary festivals draw crowds on a scale other cultural events cannot come close to.

123,000 went to a book fair in Belgium, up 3,000 on last year. See past TNPS reports for countless more examples from other countries.

Around the world TNPS is tracking upwards of 50 million people attending book events globally outside the US and UK .

Alongside these we see digital book subscription services growing by the day, while audiobook sales soar, print holds its own and ebooks, to the extent that they are suffering at all, are hindered only by deliberate high-pricing by some publishers to protect other formats.

And beyond this we see online reading in other untracked arenas growing phenomenally.

As we start the new decade we should be excited and awed by the opportunities unfolding for the 2020s, not feeding faux narratives about the death of reading.

New audiobook subscription service launching in South Korea


The global book market is growing by the day


Audioclip is an audiobook production and retail outfit in South Korea that celebrated its first anniversary in December.

Having watched the rise and rise of audiobooks in the western book markets, and having seen Sweden's Storytel launch on its home territory, Navel, the company behind Audioclip, plans to launch its own subscription service for the South Korean market in 2020.

More details over at TNPS:



No news yet of any western aggregators offering a route into this retail and subscription opportunity in the South Korean market, but we'll bring updates on this as and when there are any developments.

Until then view this item as a reminder that the global book market is not just bigger than we think, but growing by the day.

Audiobooks.com's 2 million app downloads and 14 million hours of listening

 

Parent company RBMedia announces record-breaking growth



As mentioned earlier in this edition of Publish Global, RBMedia is owned by KKR, the hedge-fund management team in the process of acquiring RBMedia’s bigger competitor, OverDrive.

RBMedia claims to be the largest publisher of audiobooks in the world, releasing 6,500 new titles in 2019.

In January it announced another year of record-breaking growth across its divisions, with Audiobooks.com performing especially well, with 2 million app downloads and over 14 million hours of listening registered.

In this TNPS post I take a look at Audiobooks.com sister company RBDigital, regarded as #2 in the digital libraries supply market, and which saw a 52% increase in titles borrowed and a 28% increase in app installs.

24Symbols looks to be safe despite its parent company going into voluntary administration



24Symbols is one of the oldest digital books subscription services



TNPS was first to break the news that BestSharer, parent company of 24 Symbols, had gone into voluntary administration, raising questions about the future of the company.



We're delighted to end this issue of Publish Global with the news that 24Symbols will continue to trade and grow, despite the problems facing its parent company, and authors and publishers need have no worries.

This from the Head of Business Development at 24Symbols, Isabel Blank::

Bestsharer S.L. is in administration since last January 25th, but despite the fact that we are beginning this voluntary bankruptcy process, 24symbols continues its activity and operation as usual.

Some key aspects and of this process:

It is a non-liquidation administration process, which reiterates the company’s intention to continue making available our reading service to our customers. Our platform is still live and growing.

Financially speaking, our monthly cash flow is positive, and this has allowed us to keep up with all our cash obligations, namely content providers and technology, partners, employees and collaborators. 

Our highly committed staff -including business, content, technology and customer service teams- continues to support and increase our current registered and subscribed user base, and our business.


More information over at TNPS:

Thanks for reading 


A return to more regular schedules for Publish Global #4, coming soon



Okay, so this was a bumper two-issue edition, playing catch-up for Publish Global #2 that should have ended 2019, and then catching up again with Publish Global #3, which should have started the New Year.

Once again a reminder I write and collate this from The Gambia, West Africa, where our time zone, GMT, has a special meaning - Gambian Maybe Time.

For day today news and insights into the global book markets TNPS can usually be relied upon to appear petty much daily, and much of what appears here and in our sister newsletters Publish Africa and Publish MENA also appears in a variant version in TNPS.

But for next issue we'll try get back on schedule with more indie-specific news and insights that isn't appropriate to the broader TNPS audience.

Until then, I'm Mark Williams, signing off this bumper edition of Publish Global on behalf of the team at StreetLib.

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Publish Global is a free bi-weekly newsletter aimed at the serious, multi-format self-published or hybrid author committed to "going wide" and looking for indie-author-orientated insights and opportunities in the truly global publishing markets.

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