Three Obstacles to Global Ebook Sales

Pricing, the intersection of rights and metadata, and publicity are the three primary obstacles to global sales, according to Kobo’s director of content management Ashleigh Gardner and her colleague Nathan Maharaj, the company’s director of merchandising.

First and foremost, pricing should be established in the currency that the consumer pays in.

Publishers that set and update their own prices have much more control and can use price points to attract customers. (To see how price impacts ebook sales, check out DBW’s weekly Ebook Best-Sellers list. This week’s list is here.)

A $9.99 price point is stronger — more attractive to consumers — than a $10.14 price, says Gardner.

And, if price conversion is the retailer’s role, that must be explicit: Which bank’s rate will be used? How frequently will price be updated?

Rights & Metadata
Metadata must be accurate and reviewed thoroughly by the publisher. Reviewing metadata cannot be one person’s job. Sometimes, the publishers’ metadata practices can obstruct foreign sales.

The Kobo team shared this example: A publisher’s metadata spreadsheet limited the rights list to 30 countries. All other countries were automatically excluded, and for a quite a while that publisher’s ebook titles weren’t available to consumers in the missing countries.

Popularity often grows faster than rights negotiations transpire. But that shouldn’t be the customer’s concern.

Likewise, when ebook rights are transferred (say, from a self-published author to a major house) the customer should not experience a disruptive gap in availability.

Publishers that avoid these obstacles will find the path to global ebook sales fairly smooth.


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