The reach of eBook platforms for Publishers from Kindle to Kobo

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While most Americans choose to read paper books, eBook readers are so convenient that they account for millions of books sold, each year. Here, Anni Reinking’s new Not Just Black and White is easy to order and read on a Kindle Fire. Want a copy of her book? Click on this photo to jump to Anni’s Amazon Kindle page.

Today, eBooks are an essential part of American publishing. As I have become part of the national conversation among publishers in recent years, I have been emphasizing the many ways eBooks are important in reaching the broadest possible audience. For example, I wrote about aspects of that strategy in this column for the website of wholesale giant Ingram. I also stepped back to describe the overall range of eBook formats in this Front Edge Publishing column.

In fact, this strategy is one of our most important assets. Front Edge Publishing is known nationally as an innovator in releasing our new books in all of the popular eBook platforms.

Most authors are aware that—while book sales overall are rising each year as we have reported—eBook sales have fallen as a share of total book sales. The heyday of eBooks was fueled by the debut of Kindle in the autumn of 2007. For several years in a row, Christmas sales directly drove eBook sales. Millions were sold!

So, with all those devices out there, why did eBook sales dip? Industry analysts offer several reasons, among them: Prices of eBook bestsellers have risen across the publishing industry; also young adults are describing “screen weariness” and a preference for paper books.

Q: So, why do we place such an emphasis on eBook production?

Answer No. 1: Even with those declines in eBook popularity, they remain a huge part of book sales! According to Pew Research, a quarter of all Americans say they read an eBook last year. Yes, that’s a smaller number than the two-thirds of Americans who read print books last year, but we’re still talking about millions of e-readers.

Answer No. 2: Each eBook platform adds its own unique power to our publishing campaigns, enabling authors to reach specific kinds of readers.

Here’s quick look at just some of the distinctive opportunities in popular eBook platforms.

Kindle Is Still the Biggest Player in eBooks

Amazon.com’s Kindle platform is the giant in eBook distribution. This month, news broke that Kindle sales, after more than 11 years on the market, had topped 100 million units of these Amazon.com reading devices.

Kindle eBooks benefit significantly from being part of Amazon.com’s ecosystem. These benefits include potential inclusion in Kindle Select, a program that gives readers a wide variety of eBooks to read for free (while paying authors based on the number of Kindle pages read) and Kindle Matchbook, a program that gives readers free or discounted eBooks if they have purchased the associated print version. Even more importantly, Kindle eBooks are indexed alongside print books in Amazon.com’s extensive library.

Many people are familiar and comfortable with Amazon.com’s retail platform, so making sure your eBook is available from one of the world’s biggest retailers maximizes its reach.

Adding Google eBooks Adds to Discoverability

Google eBook publishing also is an important aspect of distribution for authors.

Not only does publishing your book through Google allow readers to purchase it through Google Play, an important route for readers with Android devices, but eBooks published through Google are also eligible to be indexed in Google Books, an ambitious Google project that aims to create the “most comprehensive index of full-text books” on the web. When your book is indexed in Google Books, the searchability and discoverability of the book rises.

Publishing through Google is not as straightforward as publishing on other retail platforms. Google is currently accepting a limited number of new publishers for their platform. Interested publishers must fill out an interest form and there is no guarantee Google will respond with an invitation.

One of Front Edge Publishing’s important eBook assets is that we are already fully equipped to publish on Google Books and Google Play.

Kobo Partners with Walmart

While Kobo was previously a minor player in the eBook market, a new partnership with Walmart has significantly expanded its reach. Apart from the audience authors can reach by selling through Walmart channels, Kobo also enables publishers to submit their eBooks to the OverDrive platform, which allows readers to check eBooks out from their library directly to their device. 

Reach Your Readers in the Format They Want

There are many more eBook platforms than the three listed above, including Apple’s iBooks and B&N’s Nook. It’s important to be available on many platforms because every reader has a preference. The fewer decisions a reader needs to make to begin reading your book, the more likely they are to choose your book!

About Dmitri Barvinok

Director of Production Dmitri Barvinok works on the digital development, print layout and distribution of new books. He coordinates Front Edge editors and designers and works with the BookEdge software suite.