Earlier this month the Dutch ebook subscription service Kobo Plus, run in tandem by Rakuten Kobo and Bol.com, launched an exclusive new series by Dutch thriller writer Linda Jansma and an exclusive pre-release title from another Dutch thriller writer Willem Asman, in cooperation with the authors’ publishers.
Both authors have seen considerable success with digital editions in Kobo Plus, and offering the latest of the Asman series exclusive with Kobo Plus, Kobo and Bol through until November 9 seemed at first like a great idea. More digital-first releases are planned for next year.
Given Kobo Plus has, since its launch in January, notched up 100,000 subscribers, it makes sense.
But the publishers may be having second thoughts now, after seven major Dutch bookstores retaliated.
The “Triple A” bookstore collective – Paagman (The Hague), Broese (Utrecht), Broekhuis (Twente), Van der Velde (Northern Netherlands), Scheltema (Amsterdam), De Drvkkery (Middelburg) and Waanders (Zwolle) – have expressed their dismay at being locked out of the Jansma series altogether and being given second place ranking to sell the Asman books. The group has cancelled all orders for books by these authors.
The fracas comes just as the Central Book House releases its third quarter book and ebook barometer report showing print sales 0.4% up year on year but 5.2% down on Q3 2016.
Ebooks fared better, up 3.6% on Q3 2016, and up an impressive 8.7% year on year, meaning Dutch publishers won’t have to invent nonsense notions like “screen fatigue” to explain supposed ebook disinterest.
As with any ebook reportage, the figures will be debateable as many sales by self-published authors will be going uncounted, but the trend is clear – the Dutch like ebooks and they like ebook subscription services.
The two big questions there, of course, are
a) will Amazon introduce a Kindle Unlimited subscription service for its Kindle NL store? And
b) how might it fare against an established rival service like Kobo Plus with the backing of Dutch publishers?