International Insights for Indie Authors: Asian Markets

The AskALLi team is super excited to announce a new series of blogs starting today. The Alliance of Independent Authors is a global organisation and wants to honour that by bringing you a series of global facing blogs. With a huge thanks to Mark Williams of The New Publishing Standard who is bringing his expertise and experience to contribute to these posts. This is the International Insights for Indie Authors series and today’s post is all about the Asian markets.

Mark Williams of The New Publishing Standard

Welcome to this first edition of International Insights, where we’ll be taking a weekly look at the exciting global publishing scene that is mostly happening off the radar of indie authors understandably focussed on the world’s biggest ebook market that is the USA.

And let’s start with that, because while the USA is in cold dollar terms still probably the world’s biggest ebook market, it’s not the biggest by volume. That honour goes to China, which may surprise many, but shouldn’t come as such a surprise when we consider China has 854 million internet users, compared to 312 million people online in the USA. And whereas the USA has nowhere to grow, China is only at 59% internet penetration and will easily top 1 billion internet users later this decade.

China is not an easy market to access, and you can’t go to the Kindle China store via KDP, but there are ways and means. My books topped the Kindle CN charts way back in 2014, so this is not something new either.

But China is also an exciting market for print and for audiobooks. In fact China is a massive audiobook market, with 560 million listeners and a valuation on par with the US audiobook market. And right now they are making inroads into AI narration.

India is next in the internet stakes, with 560 million people online, and India is only at 40% internet penetration.

India is incredibly exciting for authors, but challenging. While Kindle IN is easy to access through KDP (unlike Kindle CN which is not part of KDP) there are challenges. Print books are by western standards incredibly cheap, and KDP does not let indies set ebook prices as low as mainstream publishers.

But India’s ebook market is growing fast and well worth persevering. Amazon is not the only show in town. Check out Google Play Books , Kobo, and local players like Juggernaut and Airtel Bharti.

Unlike in our western bookish world, book fairs in countries like India are where most books are sold. In January this year the Chennai Book Fair attracted 1.3 million visitors who spent $2.8 million on books.

That event ran pretty much at the same time as the New Delhi World Book Fair which attracted over 1 million visitors, the Kerala Literary Festival (400,000 visitors) and the Jaipur Lit Fest 400,000). And let’s not mention the Kolkata Int. Book Fair which typically pulls a crowd of over 2 million that typically send $3 million on books.

Then the pandemic hit and India’s and the world’s book fair calendars were ripped up.

With the result, in India and globally, that more and more readers have been driven online. A silver lining for indie authors to this dark cloud that is the Covid-19 pandemic.

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