When the Kindle kicked off the ebook market in 2010, it was a godsend for self-publishing authors. For those who had their ebooks published and available on Kindle at that time, 2010 to 2013 were the glory days when sales rolled in the door.
Fast forward to now, however, and ebook sales on Kindle have become harder to gain due to an over-supply of ebooks, along with a reduction in royalties due to the introduction of Kindle Unlimited subscription reading.
One could say that while Kindle and Kindle Direct Publishing has been an outstanding success, it should be tempered by the fact that it has only been a regional success.
For all the cries of monopoly that are directed at Kindle, it is worth noting that the success of Kindle has been limited to the larger English-speaking countries, which are the US, UK, Canada and Australia.
Ebook reading outside the US
In Germany, where Kindle is active of course, it has a much smaller market share in a country that buys a lot of English ebooks.
You may not have heard of the ebook seller Tolino, but it sells a lot of ebooks, and not only in Germany.
Here are some excerpts from an interview between Joanna Penn and Dan Wood from Draft2Digital in which they discuss the international opportunities for self-publishing authors.
For people who don’t know, Tolino …has it got a bigger market share now than Kindle in Germany? It’s certainly 50%, isn’t it?
Dan: It’s really hard to say. I see varying reports that say yes, it’s bigger. Last year, they’re claiming to be about equal size. They do say that they are bigger in Germany and that central Europe area than Amazon at this point.
People should be going from making 90% of their income from Americans to making only maybe 10%, 15%. That’s how it should look according to the global population.
Kobo, of course, adopted the strategy years ago. So they’re at like 190 different countries or territories they deliver to.
People are reading more and more on their phones. The Wall Street Journal recently had a great article about that. Especially the case in foreign countries where they might not have internet access in the way we do, except for their phone or the extra income to go out and buy an eReading device just for reading.
With self-publishers becoming more and more over-reliant on Amazon and Kindle for their ebooks sales, will the international market, and phones, be the launching pad for a whole new ebook reading market dynamic?
As an author who was lucky enough to have success in the early years of Kindle, I am now thinking that the phone and international ebook readers may well be the next big ebook thing, so I am returning to open publishing with the thinking that I can’t lose.
While my ebooks are still, of course, available on Amazon Kindle, I am very happy to pass on KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited paid page reads to allow me to publish on new retailers, such as Tolino and 24symbols as well as the well-known ones like Apple, Kobo and Nook.
Am I right in thinking that phone ebook readers will be the next area of market growth for ebooks? Who knows.
But I’m willing to try a new approach and try to find new readers. Oh, and ebook buyers.
More reading: Pick A Free Ebook Reader Or Ebook App For Your Phone