Self-publishing News: Wattpad for sale?

In this week’s Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway takes a close look at the potential sale of Wattpad to Tencent.

Dan Holloway head and shoulders

ALLi’s News Editor Dan Holloway

Tonight’s #indieauthorchat on Twitter is on one of the most important subjects there is. Tim will take us through how to plan for 2021. In our current self-publishing news podcast, Howard and I look back at last year’s biggest story, Audiblegate. Which is also still current news.

Wattpad for sale?

I talk about Wattpad a lot. They are one of the most innovative businesses in publishing. What they have done to create a system that takes writers from first tentative sentence to studio picture and other subsidiary rights deals is amazing. And they get too little credit for it. Not even Amazon has created an ecosystem to rival them. The other thing I talk about is their eye-watering numbers. And I really do mean eye watering. Mark Williams’ latest post highlights some of them – 90 million monthly users. 23 billion minutes spent monthly on the platform.

That makes the main number in Williams’ report feel really eye-opening. He speculates that Chinese media giant Tencent may be about to buy Wattpad for $500m. If there’s any truth to this, it would be one of the steals of the decade. And interestingly, I found a story on the tech pages about Tencent’s ramping up of investment right now. So maybe there’s more than a grain of truth. Watch this space.

Will the replacement for BookExpo be indie friendly?

The publishing industry would appear, like nature, to abhor a vacuum. And the demise of Book Expo left quite a vacuum. It appears that Publishers Weekly have rushed in to fill it like so much air (not sure this metaphor is flattering anyone). They have announced that they will be staging a new Book Fair on the same dates that were originally pencilled for BookExpo – May 26-28. This year at least, they have committed to making it an all digital event. Whatever else happens, that’s already more decisiveness than Reedpop managed for much of last year.

ALLi, of course used to run a Self-publishing Advice conference to coincide with Book Expo. That changed as Book Expo turned its back on indies, and ALLi hooked up with the much more proactive revamped DigitalBookWorld. An encouraging sign is that there is a commitment to include indies in the event. We’ll keep you posted.

Book sales are strong but publishing stocks are weak

Over the past year, we’ve got used to stories best described as “unexpected good news.” Books sales have held firm. Print sales have done better than expected. Indeed, just this week we have yet more encouraging sales figures. Audiobooks have turned out to be just what people spending less time on the move want, contrary to initial speculation. And ebooks have maintained their performance. This is all really good news.

Which provides context for Publishers’ Weekly’s story about deteriorating share prices. Over the past year, share prices of the leading listed publishing companies have fallen 4%. So maybe all is not quite as well as it would seem. Given this week’s story about bookstores, that may be a trend.

Bookshop.org and Storytel post impressive figures

OK, so let’s have a look at some more of those good news stories. Mark Williams puts it well when he says “Night follows day, Storytel beats forecasts…” The Swedish subscription streaming platform continues its relentless growth, though Williams points out the challenges that lie ahead if it wants to move into English language markets.

The really interesting figures come from Bookshop.org. We’ve written about them a lot this year. So much that it’s hard to believe this is their first year of operation. But in that first year, they have sold over $50m of books. That equates to more than $10m going to independent bookstores. This is nothing to be sneezed at. On the other hand, given how few books have been sold in store this year and how many sales of paper books have gone through Amazon it’s too early to start seeing a long-term picture of the paper book ecosystem. And most important it’s too early to see whether Bookshop.org will be the saviours of the bookstore.

Goodreads Ransom Reviews

I want to close with some worrying news from a column reader. I won’t name them for obvious reasons. It seems that people are targeting books on Goodreads with phoney negative reviews. OK, that’s not new. But they are then asking for a “fee” to remove them. That’s basically the literary equivalent of ransomware. This link takes you to a forum thread on the subject. Please be careful before contributing to the thread. It seems new commenters might be targets.

Is Tencent about to buy Wattpad, a replacement for Book Expo, and top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy #publishingopenup Click To Tweet

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