Amazon launched a Netherlands Kindle Store this morning, as anticipated by The Digital Reader yesterday.
Kindle devices are now on sale for prices ranging between €59 for the basic model, up to €189 for the Voyage, and the store has opened with over 3m titles. However, only 20,911 of these titles are in Dutch and only 1,221 of these e-books are by Dutch authors.
That may change now that KDP has launched a local portal for Dutch writers and small presses. The opening of the Dutch Kindle Store also means the abolition of the regressive and unpopular Whispernet Surcharge in the Netherlands which added $2 onto the price of many e-books.
For those already publishing via KDP, your book is on sale in the Dutch Kindle Store without any further action needed at your end. You will earn 70% on sales between €2.60 (~$3.24) and €9.70 (~$12.08) – matching the terms of the other Euro-based Kindle Stores, and reversing an unwelcome trend where 70% royalties were only available if that title was enrolled in KDP Select (as is the case for Kindle Stores in Brazil, Japan, Mexico and India).
Amazon is a little late to the party in the Netherlands. Competitors like Kobo, Apple & Google already have some presence, and there is a strong local competitor which is estimated to have 60% of the nascent e-book market (Bol.com, which partnered with Kobo as recently as September).
But Amazon has a track record of dramatically changing the digital markets it enters. For example, Amazon grabbed around half of the Italian e-book market within three months of opening its doors there. On the other hand, Amazon has had it tougher in markets like France and Germany where strong fixed book price laws have hindered its desire to ability to discount.
Whoever ends up on top, the opening of Amazon’s Dutch operation is a reminder that we are only at the very beginning of a long period of change, and that the real battle isn’t between authors and publishers, or even Amazon and publishers, but an international turf war between a small handful of tech giants. Next stop: Scandinavia and Russia.
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One company that doesn’t quite fit that profile is Barnes & Noble, which has been trying to spin off Nook Media for a while – presumably to someone who can match the investment levels of Apple, Google, Amazon, and Kobo (the latter has a strong international presence through hitting international markets early, partnering with local retailers, and now has extra cash on hand thanks to their parent company Rakuten).
In a move that smacks of pre-sale window-dressing, Barnes & Noble’s self-publishing platform Nook Press (part of Nook Media) has moved into POD and author services. The reaction among self-publishers has been one of bewilderment for two main reasons.
First, the prices are very high indeed. Two main packages are available to authors, costing $999 and $1,999 respectively. Neither of these include proper editing, merely an editorial assessment which will then recommend whether you need line editing, developmental editing etc.
Line editing of a 80,000 word novel will cost you $2,960 and developmental editing of a book of the same length will set you back $6,480. Needless to say, this is significantly more expensive than engaging a qualified, experienced freelance editor – several multiples, in fact.
Second, the POD service that Nook Press is offering won’t get you into B&N stores – which is to be expected – but won’t even get you onto B&N’s website, unlike Amazon’s (free) CreateSpace platform. From the FAQ:
Weirdly, this POD service is only for personal author copies. And the prices are crappy too – a quick check of various sized books showed prices almost double what CreateSpace charges for author copies ($6 – $9 per copy versus around $3 – $5).
It appears this service is purely aimed at the hobbyist, rather than authors who actually want to make money from selling books, and those author services have a real whiff of vanity about them.
Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader has noted that the packages look very similar to some of those offered by Author Solutions. And a commenter there has also pointed out that these packages are similar to those provided by Lulu – who began partnering with Author Solutions in March 2013.
Barnes & Noble has yet to respond to his request for more information on same. I’m doing some digging myself, and I’ll let you know if I turn up anything.
At the moment, these new services are only available to those in (continental) US, but I’m not sure why anyone would want to use them. Potentially dodgy connections aside, the prices are terrible, you won’t get into online bookstores (let alone bricks-and-mortar ones), and the quality of the books themselves, as well as those incredibly expensive editing services, is a real unknown.
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Speaking of the whiff of vanity, the chair of Penguin Random House UK – Baroness Gail Rebuck – gave her maiden speech in the House of Lords last week.
Baroness Rebuck spoke eloquently about literacy and social exclusion, and her work on behalf of the most vulnerable in society – which all sounds lovely until you remember that Penguin Random House owns the largest vanity press in the world, one which explicitly targets the most vulnerable authors. From her speech:
Through my years as a publisher, I have always believed that businesses should consider their wider purpose and social impact.
Consider it, and then ignore it, presumably.