Amazon’s Kindle publishing platform is the giant being faced down by numerous smaller e-book publishers. There’s no doubt that Amazon has the brand recognition, customer base and clout to suppress other competitors. Yet there are numerous less-known competitors struggling mightily to maintain some diversity in the e-book publishing world.
There are many ways that challengers such as Smashwords, BookBaby, Barnes & Noble’s PubIt, Lulu, Kobo and others can compete with the Kindle. First and foremost they must do a better job of selling themselves. No one will use a company they’ve never heard of when the competition is so well known. A marketing campaign could include the use of ad agencies to get the word out. The use of online advertisements is essential, but there is a place for print ads as well.
Another way that the competitors can grab a bigger slice of the e-book publishing pie is to offer a better easier-to-use product to writers. Kobo launched their new service in June. Kobo Writing Life is a free program that promises greater control over pricing along with competitive royalties for authors. By giving authors greater control over their creations, Kobo and other small e-book publishers can potentially capture the interest of more writers.
Venerable e-book publisher Smashwords is perhaps in the best position to capture a greater market share. With over 125,000 titles already under their belt and a fairly simple processing tool, they could be the most serious threat to Amazon’s dominance of the market. Smashwords has an excellent royalty plan and its own e-bookstore. Their Meatgrinder tool allows a variety of formatting options. They can distribute works to most retailers, but uploading to Amazon for distribution is a problem. The KDP system at Amazon doesn’t function well with Smashwords. Since Amazon prefers authors use their system it is unknown when the problem will be corrected.
It is possible to take down the giant, but first customers have to find the competitors. More effective advertising including SEO campaigns would help. Aspiring authors must be able to easily find the alternatives and they must see value in going with the lesser-known brand. Competitors who offer better payment plans and prompt service will appeal to writers if they are aware they can get a better deal going with the competition. User-friendly publishing platforms and intuitive financial reports can help the small competitors flourish.