Sunday, June 10, 2012

International Prices for My E-books

I had considered dropping support for some of the ebook marketplaces as I released my latest book. Amazon Kindle and B&N Pubit are easy to use and don't take much effort, once I have the ebook masters generated.  It's all over and done with in less than an hour.  The ebooks are available for sale in a day or so.  Easy, smooth, and satisfying.

But Apple's iBookstore has gotten even more difficult lately.  The restrictions are tighter and sometimes it requires a customized master file, just to make sure I don't accidentally mention the Kindle edition.  There is also the problem of setting prices internationally.  As Apple expands its marketplaces, there is more opportunity to find English readers across the world, but it also means I have to set the price for each and every one of those countries.

So, for each title, I have to fill out this screen for each of the (currently) 32 different countries.  And, since these markets have been added over time, I have to go back to each of my previous books, and add the markets that have come on-line since I released that book.

It's a chore, but it's an opportunity as well.  I've got writer buddies who are more popular in other countries than the US.  It could happen.  So I decided to work through the stack of books and add all those markets.  I learned a few things as well. I found a website http://www.exchangerate.com/ where I could find the exchange rates for all the countries I needed.  I made a spreadsheet where my paper-edition price and likely ebook prices were calculated, so I could have an idea just how much Euros, and Swiss francs, and the various kronas were worth.  Then it was just a matter of watching a TV show (old Lois and Clark episodes) while filling in the forms.

I was a little worried the first time I submitted the updated package for an older book, fearing the multi-day delay that is common before a book actually comes on-line in the Apple system.  I was very pleased to see that a simple meta-data change like this only takes about an hour before everything was live.  At the same time, my newest book hasn't been approved in nearly a week now. 

The same sort of task was waiting for me at Google Editions.  This time, there are nine countries to deal with, and Google lets you download a spreadsheet, where you can change all the prices in one operation.

In another couple of days, I'll have all my books available for sale in far flung places, as long as the reader is looking for English language books.  Maybe it'll be worth it, maybe not.  Time will tell.

UPDATE:  7/26/12 : I just received an email from Apple stating that 'based on your feedback', they had made changes in the software to allow quick population of all the international markets based on exchange rates.  The next time I add a book, I'll try that out.  Hmm.  I wonder if they read my blog or if that 'based on  your feedback' thing is boilerplate for all users.  I suspect they got quite a few official feedback messages.

6 comments:

Chris Meadows said...

I thought that Amazon was making self-published e-books available internationally, too. Are they not? Or do they just handle price conversions themselves?

Henry Melton said...

Yep. You can choose to have it handled automatically on Amazon. That's what I did. However, each of the marketplaces handles a different subset of the world. Google has Japan, for example, but far fewer European locations. Amazon's reach is pretty much invisible to me except when they report sales. I could wish for Apple to make it as easy as Amazon, but I'll take what I can get.

Jenny Boylan said...

Wow...this article's timing and content was perfect! I just put a note on my to do list last night to research this very topic! Thank you!!

Henry Melton said...

I just heard on the WWDC reporting that Apple is intending to add an additional 32 countries to their app store. I assume that applies to books too. I guess that means still more updating.

Anonymous said...

Hum, if I were you, I would manually manage kindle as well. With dollar to euro conversion (+ vat), you are actually screwing yourself in Europe. Believe me, I am living in Europe and can tell you are losing a lot of money, considering how they will convert (two years ago, a book priced $3 in the US was sold 1€49 in Europe, which converted manually was about $2.39 less 5% for vat).

Henry Melton said...

Thanks, anon, I'll look into that.