For the past couple of years I’ve written a number of articles on the publishing and author services sectors in mainland Europe, and while e-book growth lags behind the US and UK markets, Europe is due a pretty big shake up soon. I’ve also taken a particular interest of the Dutch market because this is where I live. Here is a quick link recap on those articles and news stories:
Yesterday, Bol.com, the largest Dutch e-retailer, took the jump on Amazon by announcing the launch of Brave New Books, an online self-publishing platform for authors to produce, publish and market e-books and POD (print on demand) books. Bol’s publishing platform is in partnership with Dutch publishing house, Singel Uitgevers, with a backend powered by one of the country’s leading author services providers, Mijn Bestseller.nl (My Bestseller). Like another European-based self-publishing service, epubli, Mijn Bestseller have also recently launched dedicated services on the UK market.
Bol’s move is a direct effort to pre-empt Amazon’s planned roll-out of Amazon.nl in the Netherlands. While there is no firm date on the Amazon launch this year, the real question for the Dutch self-publish community and the providers that service it will be whether Amazon decide to also roll-out a Dutch Kindle Digital Publishing facility. A major global e-retail player on the Dutch market might make many author services providers smile at the expanding retail options and new competition for their authors, but if Amazon.nl comes with KDP, that boon might be pretty shortlived. I’ve heard mixed feelings from several author services providers in the Netherlands. A Dutch KDP could seriously torpedo service providers e-book expansion programs if the trend for self-published authors in the US and UK to go direct with seller publishing platforms is mirrored.
Alternatively, with a Dutch e-book market share of just 3.9%, Amazon might just decide that a population of 16 million people doesn’t warrant a dedicated Dutch KDP and leave traditional publishers and author service providers dancing in the aisles. That said, I wouldn’t be popping the champagne corks just yet. Amazon does what Amazon does, and I’ve watched enough Amazon buy-outs and launches to know the corporate retail giant likes consuming any market it can shoulder into, getting bodies on board (dead or alive), and a lot of the time it doesn’t give a shit whether it makes money or not in the short term.
Bol’s move is business smart and it has partners on board that know the landscape. Amazon executives might even be doffing their caps to Bol today.
“Nice move, guys… but remember, if you don’t own it, you don’t control it. We’ll see ya all in a few months!”