This is an informal series.
I have a truly international readership. The map, above, shows all the places in the world where I sell books….and this is just the places I sell books through Kobo. I sell books to other countries via other retailers and my own site, but don’t have a fancy-dancy map for those.
(And one day I’ll sell to Greenland, Iceland and Madagascar, among others, which will help my completionist soul settle down!)
For many readers in North America, the Big River is the first and possibly the only online location where they buy books. It is certainly the largest online bookstore in the world, but it isn’t the only place you can buy books.
And for many people, it is not their first choice, or they simply can’t buy from there.
The benefits of roaming widely to buy books
By not restricting yourself to a single store to buy your books, you’re reaping a dozen great benefits.
- No matter which stores you’re on, that store does not have every book ever published available there. But by browsing a dozen different stores and sites, apps and other sources, you can come pretty close to seeing every story available in your preferred genre.
- You can price match, coupon clip, and compare pricing….or get it free elsewhere.
Depending on where you’re acquiring the book, the price will vary. Some bookstores price match (which is nice), but by being flexible about where you acquire books, you can save a lot of money.
- You can take advantage of loyalty programs that other stores don’t offer.
- You can pick the payment system you prefer (credit cards, or debit cards, or PayPal, or more).
- You can shop locally, if you prefer.
- You can dodge retail sites laden with advertisements, or that filter your search results to show you what they want you to see.
- You can support favourite authors directly.
I frequently get emails from readers thanking me for making my books available as widely as possible, including my own site (which for some readers, is the only place they can acquire my books). .
There are dozens of places where you can acquire ebooks. And none of them are illegal bootleg sites.
My first stop for books is Kobo.com, for a number of reasons
1. Kobo is Canadian. And so am I.
This comes under the “shop locally” banner.
2. Kobo caters to a lot of international markets.
Check the range of countries that Kobo serves here. Is your country there?
3. Kobo has a reward points program.
This was a biggie for me. Do you remember Fictionwise? It was one of the first online ebook stores to ever pop up. They had a reward points program, and I loved it. Build up enough points and you get free books. Wooo!
This is also the reason why I made sure that my retail store on Stories Rule Press also has a rewards point program. Fictionwise trained me to like that little bonus payoff.
4. Kobo has a read-all-you-want subscription program
I don’t personally use Kobo Plus, the subscription program, but millions of people do. My monthly payments for Kobo Plus are frequently much higher than my monthly sales on Kobo.
BTW, nearly all my books are available for download through Kobo Plus. The only titles not in the program are those that are only available on my site (which is only three or so books). Everything else is there in Kobo Plus to binge on…including the other SRP authors’ books.
The Kobo Plus program is not yet available to USA or UK residents. I asked Kobo if they had a date when they would launch Kobo Plus in these countries, but they did not respond. I’ll keep you updated on this, if I do hear back from them.
Kobo Plus also includes audiobooks.
5. Kobo doesn’t insist you use their reader, or their software.
You can download just the book file and sideload it to your preferred reader. As the retail sites’ inhouse reading apps all have major flaws of one kind or another, or drench you in advertisements while giving you an inferior reading experience, being able to choose which reading software you use is a huge relief.
[Note: sideloading only works if the book you bought does not have DRM protection…or if you remove the DRM protection. Stripping DRM is usually against the terms in the user agreement that you agreed to or actually signed when you set up your retail account. Luckily, many publishers are starting to understand that offering DRM free ebooks is actually a positive thing for both readers and publishers and are removing the DRM from their titles as a reader service. And nearly all indie authors offer DRM free reading.]
[And another note: The Kobo Plus subscription books you download MUST be read in Kobo’s ereading app or on one of their Kobo reading devices, and you are not given the option of downloading the book’s file. This is so they know how long you’ve spent reading the book and can pay authors accordingly.]
On the other hand, if you use Kobo’s reading software or one of their reading devices, then you don’t have to load/sideload anything. Books you buy automatically appear on your device or in the app.
6. Kobo will price match if you find the book cheaper elsewhere.
They’ll even refund the difference. ’nuff said.
7. Kobo lets you use PayPal to pay for your books.
Some stores don’t allow you to use PayPal, which is a pain if you have a lot of funds sitting in your PayPal account.
Kobo also accepts all major credit cards and a range of other payment options.
8. There is no advertising on the Kobo site.
That means any search you do for specific books will give you the specific book (if it is on Kobo), and it won’t be buried under half a page of “recommended” or “sponsored” titles.
9. The free books are listed with the pay-for books.
This is a personal preference for me. I don’t want to get a book just because it’s free, so I don’t browse through exclusively free lists. At the same time, if a book I might like to read is hidden on a free page somewhere else, I won’t see it. So having both free and pay-for books in one list means I’m not missing any good reads.
But if you do acquire only free books, then Kobo has a whole page dedicated to free listings, broken up into genres and categories.
10. They only sell books.
When you search, your search results are JUST books, instead of every product that might mention your search terms in their descriptions, or that the retailer thinks you might want to see, or that someone has paid the retailer to show anyone who uses those keywords.
11. Also, Kobo doesn’t bury some books in a graveyard
This is another biggie for me.
Amazon has a “graveyard” — an electronically walled-off collection of books where search results don’t go, and you can only find them if you know the exact title and the author name.
Amazon includes in the graveyard any book they consider “inappropriate” — and they decide what is inappropriate. The author cannot appeal to Amazon to reconsider, or to explain that the book has no inappropriate content.
For many romance authors, their titles are dumped into the graveyard because Amazon thinks the sexual content is either too much, too steamy, or for other reasons they’re not obliged to share. A handful of my steamy romances have ended up in Amazon’s graveyard, over the years. Carson’s Night is one of them. You can’t search in the Kindle store for “steamy paranormal romance” and have it come up.
However, you can find Carson’s Night on Kobo just by searching on my name, or just the title, or “steamy paranormal romance” (but for this last, general search, you’ll have to click through a few search result pages to see it).
That is proof that you can discover a great many other books on Kobo that other retailers will never show you.
Kobo is a very small company, staff-wise, yet they have over 5 million books for sale, and provide those books to most of the globe. They have some great advantages that make them my preferred retail store. I’ll look on Kobo first for a title, and buy it there if I can.
If you’re learning to acquire your books from anywhere, which is a great mindset to adopt, because it opens up a world of books you won’t find if you stick with just one bookstore, Kobo is a good place to start. Check them out at https://Kobo.com.
Then there is a long list of other places where I acquire books, and even more places to get books that I have not yet explored. I’ll talk about them over the coming weeks.