Self Publishing Is Not Only About KindleKindle isn’t the only ebook reading device

With the clear dominance of Amazon and Kindle in the ebook market, and particularly in its almost ever presence in social media mentions, there is a natural assumption that this is a worldwide phenomenon and that ergo, ebooks and self-publishing must equal Kindle. However, in my judgement, this is just simply not true.

The popularity of the Kindle as a reading device is predominantly in the United States. Where I live in Europe, and I have heard the same from my UK friends, the Kindle is a rarely seen device. Amongst my own friends and family, both in Switzerland and Australia, not a single person I know owns a Kindle. While waiting in airports in Europe, I have hardly ever seen anyone reading with a Kindle.

On the occasions I have shown my Kindle to my French speaking friends, they usually have the same reaction. Total disinterest. Their reasons are quite logical though. Firstly, there is still a preference for books in Europe so ebooks are struggling for acceptance. Secondly though is that they think the Kindle, in any of its forms, looks and feels cheap and it really doesn’t do much.

But, if I started writing this piece all over again and talked about the Apple iPad, it is a totally different story. All of my friends and family have an iPad. All of my French speaking friends too, and they occasionally read ebooks with it. I see almost one person in ten using an iPad while I wait at the airport. The rest have an iPhone or Android. I see people on trains reading on iPads and iPhones – and, perhaps ebooks in French and German as well as English.

So because of this, I know why self-publishing is not simply Kindle publishing. Sure, it’s one important publishing platform, but one that’s basically limited to a US centric readership. The rest of the world is equipped and ready to read, (and buy) but not with a Kindle.

Smart self-publishers know this and are publishing on a number of platforms and online retailers already. The next stage of growth in ebook sales will come from markets other than the US, and it will not be driven by dedicated e-reading devices, but by fully functional tablets and smartphones that also serve as a multi-platform ebook reader and allow ebook buying choice.

With a tablet, you can buy the same ebook from a range of retailers, and perhaps even DRM-free, so you can use a purchased ebook on almost any device and safely back up and store your library. You can even lend it to a friend.

But are there enough readers outside the US who read in English?

As a result of a marketing experiment I have been working on using BitTorrent, the following graphic shows the geographical location of over 20,000 downloads of one of my free ebooks over the last few weeks. The ebook was in .epub and .mobi format so it could be used on almost any e-reading device from smartphones to laptops. What this proves to me is that there are a lot of readers of English ebooks out there and that there is a market developing rapidly.


Readers are all potential buyers, and there are millions upon millions of them outside the US. As a self-published author though, are your ebooks available for them, or are you only a Kindle author?

Self Publishing Is Not Spelt K.I.N.D.L.E.

23 thoughts on “Self Publishing Is Not Spelt K.I.N.D.L.E.

  • 03/01/2013 at 6:02 pm

    It’s pointless to ‘discuss’ with someone who seemingly can’t read.
    Show me where I said I never sold any books. I said I didn’t sell any books on Smashwords and the connected retailers. My books are selling and are borrowed through Amazon. I also never blamed Smashwords; I merely stated a fact, and my decision I made based on that fact.
    The good thing about being Indie means the decision is up to me. No reader has ever complained that they can’t obtain my books. You can disagree with that as much as you like, but in the end of the day it’s still my decision.
    And, just something else: not every book being published is destined to sell, for nobody knows what the public wants. To assume an author didn’t make an effort is just as wrong as promoting to fellow authors. Sometimes, it’s only a very simple reason: the book’s just not loved. Nothing wrong with that either.

  • 03/01/2013 at 6:48 pm

    ^^ Where did I state that you never sold a book overall? I was referring strictly to Smashwords and its retail partners. Yes. Most ebooks don’t sell well. Point of the matter is that not every reader buys from Amazon. By pulling away your books from the other stores, you’re simply not there. You’re not exposed. It’s like going into different bars, in hope of scoring with someone. Just because you didn’t hook up in some bars, that’s no reason to not frequent those bars anymore. Especially since it costs you nothing to be present in more outlets at the same time. If you want to be exclusive to one store, that’s your choice. Just don’t blame your lack of success on the other aggregators.

  • 03/01/2013 at 6:57 pm

    Once again: I had my books on Smashwords and they didn’t sell. I had more borrows last month than sales on SW since March 2011. And as I said, being exclusive doesn’t mean readers can’t buy my books. They just have to download the Kindle App and are good to go.

    My decision was based on zero sales vs. money from the borrows. And it seems it was a good decision. Smashwords is not very user friendly. I had sent out coupons to reviewers who didn’t know what to do with it. That was the only reason I stayed with SW, but since I ended up sending the mobi or PDF of my books anyway, I just didn’t see any point anymore.
    Not sure why you’re still hung up on my blaming Smashwords. I don’t. After almost 2 years, I think I can make a fair judgement on the success and which platform is right for me. I wish I had sales through SW, but I don’t. So I go where I get the money and readers. Simple, really.

  • 03/01/2013 at 9:40 pm

    I thank you cause this is going to be really interesting figuring a good platform to publish with :)

  • 16/01/2013 at 4:56 am

    There are a lot of platform where you can publish your ebook. B&N to name one, and there are a lot of ebook reader devices nowadays and more coming. But I still believe that Amazon and kindle is known and most sought by ebook readers.

  • 08/07/2017 at 11:00 pm

    Great article. I sell almost as many books via Barnes and Noble as I do Amazon. At one time I sold more. I even sell one now and then on Google play lol! As for iBooks I get a lot of free downloads (I offer short stories free) but not many paid. However I have friends who do very well. It’s all a matter of where you gain traction and I think exclusivity is a mistake.

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