Sunday, July 01, 2012

Living In A US Centric Digital World?

Some would suggest that Barnes and Noble were never awake to the fact that the world didn’t stop at the Eastern seaboard of the US. Maybe they could have forged an alliance with the likes of Waterstones, Folyes or a European retailer and shared their international platform. If they had maybe they would have made a bigger digital penetration with their US centric Nook and they may have even had developed some real consumer awareness outside the US .  Instead they choose to stand firmly on US soil, as if they had returned to the Dark Ages and to had declare the world was flat and not round. The mistake has been sufficient to loose them a significant battle in their war against all their other competitors and forced them into a ‘catch up’ position.

This week the Newco, or whatever the baby that is conceived from the Microsoft and Nook liaison is to be called, announced a global programme. The Bookseller reported that the Newco now plans to launch digital bookstores in 10 countries within the next 12months and already has distribution agreements in place to facilitate Nook sales this year.

A week earlier, its Newco partner Microsoft, announced its tablet which is aimed to compete head to head with Apple’s iPad. However, Microsoft didn’t offer Newco and Nook the platform and like their treatment of Nokia on Windows 8. Some would suggest that this clearly shows that Microsoft will steer their own path, with or without their partners interests always being considered. Marriages of convenience sometimes turn out to be just that and not sustainable over time.

Meanwhile now that we have some 9 titles live on Kindle’s KDP platform we thought it was time we put our new digital publications on other platforms. Well Kobo in their own Canadian way appear to say a lot, but don’t make it easy. It is as if every applicant has to be personally vetted and the Canadian process is never quick unless you happen to be Canadian. Barnes and Noble’s ‘Pub It’ was more like a how ‘not to Pub It’. It works great in the US but like Barnes and Noble fails miserably when it comes to travelling over water. To demand US bank accounts, US addresses and pay overseas accounts by US Cheques is either just plain stupid or arrogant in the global economy. We hear that we are not alone with UK developers also questioning the US centric stance at a recent UK Nook developer conference.

Again Barnes and Noble or Newco are not alone and Kobo also have a somewhat weird affiliate strategy which is biased towards effectively handing over the affiliates customers back to themselves if they don’t maintain their sales. It’s as if the WHS deal was done with little thought on how to accommodate others at a later stage.

It is also frustrating in commenting on this unequal world when we are often bombarded with advice and insights from the industry which only apply to the US experience.

People complain that Amazon has too great a stake in the digital market but it hardly surprising given the ineptitude of the competitors to understand and accommodate those who merely wish to self publish as a small publisher or author, or act as an affiliate or developer and happen to be outside of North America.

We would love them to say we are wrong and would happily retract our claims and use their services…


Eoin Purcell said...

This has been a bug bear of mine for ages. It's also one of the reasons amazon does so well for self published stuff in the rest of the world, easy to open an account!

Saint Anarchist said...

Dear Sir,

I am a regular reader of your Blog and I feel that this is not entirely correct. We can see that some state statistics that Americans and West Europeans consume 6 times more than the Rest of World. But inequalities being part of nature, we all tend to adapt our attitudes. I think that we are all building a good home here on earth, the results are more evident in North (specifically) America and West Europe and soon the benefits will be passed on to Humanity. This is the spirit in which we all work. Those who do not go completely against the systems, atleast unconsciously.


Carmen Webster Buxton said...

The big winner in all this is not just Amazon but Smashwords. For individual authors who are self-publishing, Smashwords provides a means to get their ebooks into the many ebook platforms with one step. Relying on a single file means that the ebook will be readable but not as elegant is if the design were controlled by the author creating his own epub or Kindle files. Still, my ebooks are on Sony, Kobo, Nook, Diesel, and iBooks stores, with Baker & Taylor (which feeds libraries and Blio) just now coming on board. There's also a new entry called Page Foundry that I don't even know what it does yet! The one place Smashwords can't push to reliably is Amazon's Kindle store. But as my sales show me, iBooks sells around the world-- Australia, Canada, and the UK as well as many other countries. Right now the only English-language Kindle stores are in the US and the UK.