You may be wondering how to reach the best audience if you have a downloadable ebook for sale. Gone are the days of a wide-open eReader market. With the older standby PDFs still a viable format, and more recently the iPad, and of course the market-share-king, Kindle for PC and iPhone (as well as the more expensive Kindle), the competition is fierce. So which ebook format is the one you should invest your limited time and budget on as an author and publisher?
Let’s look at some of the newest first:
iPad gets kudos for flash and style, but plugging back in for a download of purchases pales next to Kindle’s free worldwide satellite-powered Whispernet service. Sure the iPad may be more of a personal accessory like the iPhone and the iPod before that, but for now it seems less likely to get critical acclaim from readers and current Kindle users. Perhaps its more salient selling point is going to be in terms of style. Who knows, this gadget may evolve into the excuse that makes reading actually cool again with those who previously only played video games and read micro-works via blogs and rapid-fire Tweets. But how soon will the iPad had significant market share or overcome the negative press coverage it has rather unexpectedly garnered?
Mobipocket(.com) is another less known ebook vendor and format out there. Partnered early on with Amazon (it is actually an Amazon company), you’d think they would have had more sizzle, but the site just never really took off in terms of branding and polished image. Mobipocket works on just about any smartphone or PDA in existence, but as just noted, their marketing is less than forceful. Consequently, your book may not sell on that format for quite a long time if you start “small”. It’s better to go straight for a bigger outlet like Amazon that has already long been engaged with smaller authors and publishers.
ClickBank(.com) is another such outlet with small overall reach and a somewhat poorly managed affiliate program with too little visibility and energy to effectively create meaningful sales. After selling hundreds of copies in the first 3 months on Amazon Kindle, while trying to figure out the system, ClickBank sells zilch in the same period. Mobipocket didn’t fare that significantly better.
After surveying a great many out there, Kindle is the dream format in many respects (especially read from the Kindle DX). Not only is the site more popular and thus more heavily converting than any other out there, but it works with other vendors to provide more reach. So you can usually find not only your ebook of choice for whatever format you need (Kindle, PC and iPhone or same format smartphone), but you can also take advantage of Amazon’s customer service policies. As a publisher, customer service is handled for you. As an author, you can rest knowing that your readers (the people supporting you) are being taken care of. Everyone is cozy and happy. And best of all, there is room for the competition to rise. Rumor has it that iPad is actually going to pay their publishers a larger take on their works, but is no small thing for a publisher or the self-published author.
Amazon(.com) is the most visible player in this market, no question. And the reasons are many: books, daily/weekly/monthly newspapers and magazines, specialty blogs and other special online content abound. No matter what you write or publish, Amazon has figured out a way to make it easy to consume and become a fan of, and that’s great news for those who compete with much bigger authors and publishers. While there are numerous other fledgling sites out there trying to become viable, none ultimately compare to the visibility and trust-worthiness of Amazon(.com), or for the reasonableness of their payment terms. While the Amazon cut is considerably high (two thirds!), the sales and visibility are infinitely better. Moreover, the book you purchase on Kindle is selected, purchased and downloaded right from your Kindle at the touch of one button. How can you compete with that? Clearly newer players will arise who will figure out how to add value to that proposition, but for now the playing field is not so level. How can you sell a book that isn’t visible, or on a site that you don’t trust? Some things are about trust. Social media. Who to call your sweetie. Your lunch-break buddy. And, of course, the activity which comes to define the person more than the person: shopping for worthwhile reads.
But watch out Kindle, iPad is coming on strong with the come on. They may just clean your clock if you let them get a running start. Afterall, a beautiful iPad will attract the attention of the tragically hip and the aesthetically-inclined. A pretty Apple gadget is often the next big conquest for young tech-savvy consumers. And after all, these are the people who brought us the virus-free Mac, the trend-setting iPod, the Mac Air, and the wildly ubiquitous iPhone.