In this week's Self-Publishing News, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway takes a look at the expansion of Kobo Plus and Wattpad developing manuscripts for the screen.
Remember, ALLi publishes a summary of the questions and answers from its weekly #IndieAuthorChat Twitter chat on the ALLi blog. This will be published on the Tuesday after the chat. Tonight's chat will be about short fiction, with Mark Leslie Lefebvre. And a reminder that ALLi has created a resource that seeks to answer any questions you may have about Covid-19, from concerns about the impact on events to ideas and news about how the services we rely on are responding. And as we look at online events in the news, do read this fabulous ALLi post on how to host online events as an author.
Kobo Plus Expands
Kobo Plus is the paid subscription service from Kobo. It offers a platform for authors not enrolled in Kindle Select to reach subscription readers. It is also open to publishers. Thus far, Kobo Plus has been very limited, most notably rolling out in the Netherlands in 2017. It caused some ripples when it did so as some publishers used it to offer exclusive content. Not, you might think, unlike other platforms. Now, Kobo Plus is set to roll out in Kobo’s home country, Canada.
The Digital Reader suggests this might be the first step in a wider roll-out, with the US next on the list. Whatever the next step, Kobo is clearly dipping a further toe in the subscription market. And that is something to keep a close eye on.
Video and Subscription Audio Boom
If we needed further confirmation that subscription is something we should take seriously, two sets of figures offered it this week. First up, a familiar story – the growth of Storytel. Double digit growth of revenue and subscribers in Q1 sees them soaring past the 1.5 million subscriber milestone.
Perhaps more interesting is the boom in gaming. Video game sales in the US grew 9% to over $10bn in the first quarter of the year. That puts Storytel's $44m revenue in some useful context. Of course, you only have to look at the amount of Animal Crossing in your social media feed to feel this growth. As ever, this is something I welcome. One of the things that has surprised me since lockdown began — or rather one thing I have become more aware of — is the lack of virtual or augmented reality in our conversations. While everything else digital is booming, we seem still to be too early for AR or VR to become widespread. People are busy buying Nintendo Switches not Oculus headsets. But if this gaming trend continues, expect the AR/VR market to take off in a big way very soon. And when it does, as I've been saying for a long time, that will be the next frontier hungry for high quality narrative.
Of course, at this stage it is not clear whether the marked prominence of subscription models in people’s cultural habits is a unique result of lockdown. We’ve been talking about it for a while, after all. But more people are starting to ask questions about what kind of a world will emerge. And as we try to get a handle on what that means for us as creators of culture, we need to be part of that thought process.
How the Industry is Changing
With that question still hanging, a new report from Aldus looks at the way the European Book Fair industry is changing. You will remember that Bologna Children’s Book Fair has already held its 2020 edition online. The report, which you can find in full here, looks at 18 different fairs across Europe. Publishing Perspectives offers a handy digest of how plans have changed. What’s most notable is how many events have postponed until the autumn. BookExpo was heavily criticised for initially postponing until July, and Bologna did a great job of holding a digital event. Given that the autumn really isn’t that far away now, it makes you wonder.
Wattpad Film and Widewizard
One company always at the cutting edge is Wattpad. One of the areas they have led in is bringing works uploaded to the site to the screen. They have done this through Wattpad Studios which, until now, has tended to partner with existing screen media companies to develop promising scripts with an already-proven audience. Now Wattpad are taking some of that in-house and putting money into their own development company.
Finally, there's an interesting new browser extension from Booksprout called Widewizard. The free extension saves time when publishing to multiple channels by allowing you to pre-fill information for your book.Kobo Plus expands to Canada, Wattpad develop manuscripts for the screen in house and top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy… Click To Tweet
Over to You
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BAIPA, 13 June