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Self-publishing News: Overdrive Is Sold

Self-publishing News: Overdrive is sold

Dan Holloway head and shoulders photo

ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway

In this week’s Self-Publishing News, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway takes a look at Rakuten’s sale of Overdrive. 

It’s a real honour to have the last ALLi post of the decade. I absolutely love trawling the wonderful worlds of literature, technology, culture, and beyond for anything that might be of import to indies. I can’t wait to see what the next decade brings, and very much hope that it will include even more success for and acceptance of, indie publishing.

Rakuten sells Overdrive

We have talked a lot about Overdrive in the past year or so. Overdrive supplies ebooks to libraries. This has given indies a wonderful opportunity to get our books onto virtual library shelves. This has been made even easier by virtue of Overdrive’s owners: Rakuten, who also own Kobo. Only that has now changed. Rakuten have sold Overdrive to the equity firm KKR for a sum in excess of three quarters of a billion dollars. Interestingly, KKR have also recently acquired RB media, a big player in audiobook distribution. It will be very interesting both to see what this means for Overdrive, and to see what it means for Kobo.

Romance Writers of America Implodes

If I were putting together literary references for the end of a decade I would have topped my list with the most famous line from T S Eliot’s The Hollow Men: “Not with a bang but a whimper.” But the decade had other ideas. It’s fair to say it’s been a bad week for the Romance Writers of America. The organisation, which advocates for thousands of authors, has been at the centre of a massive ethics storm. Courtney Milan, long-time advocate for diversity within the organization, and ethics committee member, has been suspended for a year. The move was taken by a newly-convened ethics committee in response to complaints of harassment from two authors Milan had called out for racism. Further complicating matters is the fact that the complainants seem to have been acting not as authors but in their capacity as publishers. Which leads to all kinds of questions about what an authors’ organisation should be doing. The romance community has been very quick to rally round Milan.

Alyssa Cole has been reporting the story on twitter as it broke. And this account by Claire Ryan goes over the history of what has happened. The issues this has brought to the fore – not just around diversity but whose interests a writers’ association should represent – will echo through the literary world for the next year and beyond.

People love libraries

As I noted in last week’s round-up, libraries have been the big news story of the year. So it’s fitting they should be in the news again as the year closes. And not just thanks to OverDrive. Figures showed that this year 100 million more people (1.3 billion) visited a library than a movie theatre. It has been a bumpy decade for libraries, but if this is anything to go by, the signs are that the 2020s might not be all gloomy.

Amazon Ads expand and KDP celebrates 2 million books

Amazon adverts for KDP authors are now available in Italy, France, and Spain. This adds to a list that already includes Germany, the US and the UK. And Mark Williams has highlighted two big landmarks for Amazon this week. There are now more than 2 million books published through KDP. And KDP in India now has more than 100,000 authors. William’s post gives a fascinating insight into self-publishing in India. One of the most interesting figures is that of that 100,000, 98 earn around $5,000 per year, or twice the median wage. India is most definitely going to be at the centre of indie news in the decade to come.

Looking Ahead

After looking back last week, here is a brief look ahead. Few things are as predictable as that predictions will turn out to be wrong. But there are some things I am fairly sure will dominate the news for indies next year, and probably next decade. What happens to the relative sales of audiobooks and ebooks is one. The growth of opportunities offered by subscription and local global markets is another. I also expect to see more opportunities for authors to engage directly with readers – exactly the kind of thing you can learn more about in ALLi’s Self-publishing 3.0 campaign.

In the final news of the 2010s Rakuten sells Overdrive and top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy #publishingopenup Click To Tweet

Over to You

What are your hopes for the 2020s? Let us know in the comments below.

Upcoming Conferences and Events

FEBRUARY 2020

San Francisco Writers’ Conference, 13-16 Feb [San Francisco]

MARCH 2020

London Book Fair, 10-12 Mar [London]

APRIL 2020

Self-publishing Conference, 25 Apr [University of Leicester] Short story course, 2 Apr – Sep (6 workshops) [London]

AUGUST 2020

Self-publishing Live, 14-16 Aug [Chicago]

Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40

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