Develop a Global Strategy

To develop a global strategy is a vital move for indies if they want a profitable future. With the media so globalized, and readers all over the world able to find and buy books online, independent publishers can be ‘much more confident and active’ in global markets.” ~Sandy Grant, CEO of Hardie Grant Publishing

Sandy Grant is right. To maximize sales and profits, publishers and independent authors should move to the global market.

A new Pew study backs up this strategy. The study found that Internet use in emerging and developing countries is highest among younger, more affluent, better educated users who read English. The study also found that people who read or speak English are more likely to access the Internet overall (irregardless of other factors). This is significant for English-language book publishers. English-speaking people around the world are the most likely to use the Internet. This means that these people are also more likely to purchase ebooks.

eBook subscription services are aware of the profit potential in global access. Oyster is already beginning to expand internationally and Bookmate (a Russian-based digital subscription reading service) has launched its service in Singapore.

PG_15.03.11_Internet-Access_640px_WebThe Pew study found that Chile, Venezuela, Russia, and China have Internet access rates higher than 60%, with the United States having an Internet access rate of 87%. Many developing countries rates are still under 50%.

The study noted that once online, Internet users in emerging and developing nations have embraced socializing as their most preferred type of digital activity—with most saying they stay in touch with friends and family online. Many also use cyberspace for getting information about politics, health care and government services. Less common are commercial and career activities, such as searching or applying for a job, making or receiving payments, buying products and taking online classes.

So, while Internet access and activity is increasing around the world, buying products (including books) online is still lagging. However, as Internet activity continues to increase, buying of ebooks will also increase. Making your books available worldwide may not reap immediate profits, but the global strategy is one that will need to be embraced as we move into the future.

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Kobo’s New Book Report

Kobo is one of the world’s fastest-growing e-reading services. The company’s online bookstore offers more than 4.2 million ebooks and magazines to millions of customers in 190 countries. Recently, this company released an inaugural report revealing e-reading trends in 2014. around the world Currently, the ebook market makes about $14.5 billion in sales globally and is expected to reach more than $22 billion by 2017. Following are a few of the findings from the Canadian-based Kobo Book Report:

  • Self-improvement books, including cookbooks, health, and self-help books, are more popular during the month of January than at any other time of year. More self-improvement books and books overall were downloaded in January than any other month.
  • While Sunday would seem the most popular day of the week to finish a book in Canada and around the world, it’s interesting to note that in 2014, 70% of books were actually completed during the week – Monday to Friday.
  • Children’s titles, available at the Kobo Kids’ Store offering 100,000 titles, made up more than 7% of Kobo’s overall 2014 book sales.

In the United States, sales of eBooks represent between a quarter and a third of the consumer book market. According to a recent survey by Nielsen Books, ebook sales made up 23% of unit sales for the first six months of 2014, while hardcover’s accounted for 25% and paperbacks 42%. While the overall ebook market continues to grow, the years of double-digit sales growth for ebooks seems to be over—at least for the United States and Canada. Some experts still believe that exponential ebook sales can still be expected in countries around the world, especially Asia. eBooks allow authors and publishers to reach readers around the world without having to ship print books or find foreign publishers to print the books.

If you are producing and selling ebooks, make sure that your ebooks are available worldwide on a variety of platforms. One study in 2014 showed that Kobo and Amazon were tied for International ebook sales reach. So, if you are interested in making sure your ebooks have a wide-reach globally, don’t just depend on Amazon.

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eBook Bundling

One recent study found that 23% of male adults and 33% of female adults in the United States read ebooks. While this is still far from the majority of individuals, ebook reading is growing and with it, services for selling ebooks grow.

From time to time, I come across a new ebook service that I think is worth giving some attention to. One such service is BitLit.


BitLit is a new free mobile app that allows readers to obtain free or discounted ebooks of printed works they already own. Similar to Amazon’s Matchbook program that allows Kindle owners to get a Kindle ebook for free or a discounted price when they purchase a print version of the book, BitLit is offering free and discounted ebooks to customers who have purchased a print version of a book.

With BitLit, customers who want to obtain the ebook version of a book they already own simply have to take a picture of the book’s cover and a picture of their name clearly written in ink on the book’s copyright page. The customer then sends the images to BitLit through the BitLit app. The company uses computer vision algorithms to verify the book and the customer’s name and then emails the customer a download link to the ebook, which can be read on any device.

BitLit believes bundling provides an incentive for customers to buy a book. The company has run several pilot programs with bookstores to determine whether books marked with an “Includes FREE eBook” sticker sell better. The early results indicate that they sell almost twice as well as books that don’t include a bundled ebook.

Any publisher can sign up to have their ebook part of the BitLit program. Signing up is free and can be done on the company’s website at BitLit takes a small commission on each sale. There is no commission on free bundled ebooks. However, the service does require that you are able to send your metadata via ONIX feeds.

A number of ebook services have started and crashed. Other have taken off and become popular. I don’t know if BitLit will be a hit or not. However, since it is free to use, and since bundling is a great sales incentive, BitLit offers you one more avenue to promote your books.

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Quality Matters

In her review of a book that contained a plethora of small grammatical and spelling errors, as well as typos, a BookCrash reviewer recently stated:

i found you!

“When Christians venture out into the public arena, they are representing their Savior, ‘who does all things well’. And so we should always strive for excellence.”

I wholeheartedly concur with this blogger’s statement. As authors and publishers, we should strive to ensure that our materials are excellent and reflect our Savior.

In addition to ensuring that a print book is free from typos and spelling errors, another area that continues to plague many independently published authors is the conversion of a print book into an EPUB format, especially if the author is doing the conversion him or herself.

Fortunately, there are a number of tools on the Internet that help authors ensure that an EPUB file is formatted and displays correctly. Online tools such as allow EPUB documents to be checked for validation and errors in conversion.

Smashwords, a digital publishing platform, even has a great resource for EPUB errors. They list some common errors an EPUB check will find and explain how to fix these errors on their website at

Recently, another company, Firebrand Technologies, has released a new EPUB quality assurance tool called FlightDeck. FlightDeck gives publishers and authors clear and actionable information on the quality and salability of their EPUB 2 and EPUB 3 files. FlightDeck is currently being offered free in a 2-month open beta at

Just as typos and spelling errors turn readers off in a print book, conversion errors that leave poor page breaks, website links that don’t work, and odd characters inserted into the text will turn a reader off to an ebook. Using the resources listed here and elsewhere on the web can help you produce higher quality digital books ensuring that your readers are not disappointed and your books reflect the excellence of the Gospel.

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Potential Pitfall

Publishers and authors are constantly testing new ways to create, market and distribute ebooks since the digital delivery model began gaining traction. In particular, every month it seems I am hearing about a new service that is trying to sell ebooks in a creative way.


One of the recent start-ups is Bindworx. This UK-based book retailer is selling ebooks in a new way. Instead of buying a complete ebook, Bindworx allows customers to buy pages, chapters, or other small slices of books.

Earlier this year, I wrote about Total Boox (See “Innovative Ways to Sell Digital Content”). Total Boox allows readers to add books to their digital bookshelf and then only pay for what they read. So how is Bindworx different?

With Bindworx, customers can not only purchase ebooks in full, by chapter, page, or paragraph, but they can also drag and drop content portions from different publications to create a new personalized compilation. The end-product can then be purchased and downloaded as an ebook or printed via the Bindworx print-on-demand service with same-day shipping.

In other words, Bindworx lets consumers make a completely new book by taking portions from a number of different books.

Such a system creates some concerns about copyright for me. Will Bindworx’s smashed-up content be free-floating, unattached to its author? My concern is not that the consumer will turn around and sell the new compilation that they have personalized for themselves. Rather, what if a reader decides to quote from their personal compilation. How will they give the correct author credit? Will the author and book be listed with each “section” the consumer chooses for their compiled work?

I don’t have any experience with this new ebook retailer. Maybe my concerns are for this potential pitfall are for naught and the company has it covered. Bindworx does not appear to have made it out of the testing period yet, so maybe they are running into some issues with this new idea.

On the other hand,as new services continue to arise to sell digital content in new and emerging ways, I hope that more effort is put forth by these new companies to assure authors that their copyright material will be protected.

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