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Can Indie Authors Trust Kobo?

It would be easy to get angry at Kobo. When their UK partner WHSmith removed all self-published ebooks to stamp out the pornography that’s been hogging headlines, Kobo cosied up to them and followed suit. They cut off thousands of indie authors from any revenue they might have earnt via Kobo. They punished the many for the sins of the few. In short, they burnt downt the house to get rid of the ant nest, and they asked indie authors to pay for the matches. An indie author could be forgiven for wondering if they should trust Kobo. But here’s my point:

You shouldn’t trust any of them.

There are a lot of indie authors who don’t bother with Kobo, or Apple, Barnes & Noble etc. They cosy up to Amazon, sign up to their exclusive KDP Select scheme and sit back. They trust Amazon to sell their book for them and no-one else.

I have often said that’s not what authors should do. I’ll say it again too. Authors should ensure their books are available in as many formats from as many vendors as possible. KDP Select might offer you a few perks, but why are you alienating the Nook owner who can’t download your ebook? Why are you telling the Kobo owner she’s not good enough to buy your ebook? If readers can own different ereaders, authors should make their books available on all of them.

But Kobo have highlighted the other side of this argument. Spreading your ebooks over multiple stores diminishes your risk.

Imagine Amazon reacted the same as Kobo. Imagine Amazon just stopped selling your book. If your book is sold by Kobo, Apple, Nook, Smashwords et al then you’ve taken a blow but it’s not the end of the world. But if no-one sells your book but Amazon? Then you just stopped earning any money whatsoever.

WHSmith have shown us how easy it is for a retailer to stop selling our books; they did it in a heartbeat. Kobo took less than a day. Trusting any retailer to have your best interests at heart is foolish and, if you rely on those royalties to pay the bills, dangerous. So whilst Kobo may be denying us sales, perhaps we should be thanking them for the lesson.

Don’t put all your ebooks in one basket.