Books Without Boundaries: Why Distribution Beyond Amazon Matters

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distribution beyond Amazon

Why distribution beyond Amazon really matters

If Bill Gates said it, I tend to believe it. The software tycoon-turned-philanthropist has been proven right on just about everything (if you forget the Zune and that CTRL-ALT-DEL thing).

At the dawn of the internet, Gates published an essay that started off with this line: “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet.”

The name of the essay? “Content is King.”

His 1996 prediction — made during the prehistoric days of dial up modems, AOL and floppy discs — came true. From silly cat videos to eyewitness reports of government crackdowns, and billions of terabytes of everything in between, ours truly is the age of information on demand. As predicted the revenue followed, with powerful eCommerce platforms and monetizing traffic through advertising. Over the years Gates’ truism about the preeminence of information has been stated and restated with almost religious fervor.

Yet the explosion of information is only half the story, and that’s where BookBaby comes into play. Anyone on the planet has the potential to create the most eloquent, breathtaking, astonishing, even life-changing content. But without an audience — or more precisely the means to reach it — this rich content will never be fully appreciated.

Enter the new king: distribution. Some have likened the concept of distribution as the ‘queen’ to Gates’ king content. To rephrase the slightly sexist expression, in this family it’s the queen who “wears the pants!” Call it what you want — transmitter, network or bullhorn — it’s the vital infrastructure to broadcasting your message. Without distribution there is no discovery, no matter how brilliant the content.

Authors depend on BookBaby for distribution and the pipeline we’ve built to help them find their readers. Just last week that pipeline got a whole lot bigger, with millions of potential new readers on the end of the line. Our eBook retail network leaped from 12 to over 60 stores around the globe with the inclusion of distributors ePub Direct and EBSCO.

We’ve placed tens of thousands of books into Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and all the majors. But eager readers can now find our authors’ books in stores such as Spanish eBook giant 24Symbols, Waterstone from the UK, and eChristian.com. Previously, BookBaby authors found sales throughout our far flung network, in stores like Flipkart, the dominant eBook retailer in India, and eSentral with its stores in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

One of the reasons authors choose BookBaby is what I term our “books without boundaries” approach to retail store distribution. We’ve been at the forefront of eBook globalization, supporting the rise of digital publishing throughout the world. After all, it’s called the World Wide Web, not the Internet of the United States! The physical logistics of print books didn’t allow self published authors to reach such widespread international audiences. Digital truly changes everything.

I predict it won’t be long until the international English-language eBook market easily surpasses the US market. Some numbers shared by the Ebook Bargains UK (EBUK) newsletter illustrate why I’m so bullish on the global market.

Remember when I mentioned Flipkart and eSentral, the BookBaby’s retail partners in the southeast Asia region? In just India, Pakistan and Nigeria, the number of English-speakers exceeds the entire population of the United States!

Let’s span the globe According to EBUK, there’s upwards of 75 million English speakers in the Philippines. Over 40 million English speakers in Germany. 30 million in Bangladesh. 30 million in Egypt. 25 million in France. 20 million in Italy. 17 million in Thailand. 15 million in the Netherlands. 15 million in South Africa. 12 million in Poland. 12 million in Turkey. 11 million in Iraq. 10 million in Spain.

Then there’s Brazil, Sweden, Kenya, Cameroon, Malaysia, Russia, Belgium, Israel, Zimbabwe, Romania, Austria, and Greece — all with between 5 and 10 million English speakers each.

A very conservative estimate puts the number of English-speakers outside the USA at around 750 million, and that figure doesn’t include the UK (60m),  Australia (20m), New Zealand (4m) and Canada (25m).

Sad to say but a lot of self published authors have the belief that Amazon is the only distribution channel they need to find their readers. BookBaby sales numbers say otherwise. Almost 50% of all sales came through non-Amazon stores — and that’s before we added 45+ new international stores to our lineup.

There’s an entire world beyond Amazon’s jungle. And BookBaby is taking you there!

King content meets Queen distribution. Now that’s a strong marriage.

 

BookBaby Book Marketing and Promotion

 

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Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and the President of BookBaby, the nation’s leading self publishing services company. Spatz’s professional writing career began at age 13, paid by the word to bang out little league baseball game stories on an ancient manual typewriter for southern Oregon weekly newspapers. His journalism career continued after graduation from the University of Oregon at several daily newspapers in Oregon. When his family took over a direct marketing food business, Spatz redirected his writing and design skills into producing catalogs. The Pinnacle Orchards catalog was named "Best Food Catalog," received dozens of other national awards, and the business grew into one of the nation’s largest gourmet fruit gift businesses. After the company was sold, Spatz continued his direct marketing career with Fortune 500 companies including Mattel and Hasbro. He joined AVL Digital in 2004 to lead the direct-to-consumer marketing teams for music industry-leading brands Disc Makers, Oasis, and CD Baby. After serving as Chief Marketing Officer, Spatz was tapped to lead the company’s new publishing division in late 2014. In 2019, the AVL Digital Management team purchased the New Jersey brands, including BookBaby. The company is headquartered in Pennsauken, NJ (just outside Philadelphia, PA) and meets the printed book and eBook needs of thousands of self-publishing authors around the globe. Spatz lives in Glenside, PA with his two children, a demented cat, and some well-used bicycles. Steven loves to hear from authors, editors, and publishers in the BookBaby community with tales of publishing trials and triumphs. To tell him your story, write to steven@bookbaby.com.

13 COMMENTS

  1. I fell for an ebook publisher who frauded me out of $375 and disappeared.
    Do you know of anything I can do about it? The phone rings busy constantly, and
    all emails were ignored. They do have a website, and it looks like they’re from the UK.
    Any advice?

  2. I have been working on a book for several years that I think could appeal to the ENGLISH Knowing people of Asia. A small group of Siberians are run out of Eastern Siberia in 12,000 BC. Their only escape is to the east across a land mass now drowned by the Bering Straits, now referred to as “Beringia”. Through many horrendous adventures they move east and south to become the “First Americans” (THE PLAINS INDIANS OF NORTH AMERICA.) Title not decided yet,, ?”BERINGIANS” ???, ? “FIRST AMERICANS” ??

    • Not sure which link you’re referring to, but we were having an issue with the request pages, but it should be resolved. Try again, and check back if you’re still having problems.

  3. Hi & thanks Steven; I am a BB author with a fiction series (“The Fethafoot Chronicles” – aboriginal, clever-man, Australian), first published on BB as an e-book. It’s been a great partnership & I’m very glad to see BB expanding with the online reading world. FYI, I searched for my e-books on ’24Symbols’ but came up empty.

  4. Since a year or more I am following book baby blogs and messages through e-mail; rather, book baby is educating me for indie-writer.
    I didn’t knew anything about being a indie-writer. But, now I feel confident and I have almost completed my first novel ; which, I wish to be processed by book baby. I hope so.
    My inspiration is book baby.
    Thanks book baby.

  5. Gr8 commentary on the English reader market. I deal with Amazon, Kobo and Google direct and all other distribution is chanelled through Book Baby.
    It’s a topic for another day but if Book Baby offered competitive print-on-demand, that would be a great leg-up for authors, readers and maybe even brick-and-mortar booksellers. Two paperbacks are ordered for every rebook. I don’t get it, eBooks are cheap and no waiting but more consumers want that new Book smell. But back to eBooks and the world…
    I live in Canada. I think USA accounts for 80% if my sales even though the USA is. as you articulate, less than 50% of the English reading world. Why is that? Is USA just more I’d a consumer based society? Wealthier? What makes up the disparity between their market size vs their relative percentage of the English speaking and reading world?

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