Scott D. Parker
Other than my typical writing and publishing books this year, the big goal is to create an online store in order to sell my books directly to readers.
The thing is, how best to do it.
Why Sell Direct?
I've had a few folks ask me why I'm creating a website to sell books and other products directly to readers? Aren't there enough other places--sites like Amazon or Kobo or Audible--where users are more accustomed to go? Yes, there are. But there are some compelling reasons to try.
One, naturally, is money. Minus the transaction fees assessed by the companies like PayPal, I would keep a higher percentage of each sale. Nothing wrong with that.
Of more importance, however, is the bond between buyer and seller. As it is now, readers can buy my book via an online store and they will get the book. The store takes its cut and I get the rest. But the store is the middle man, and the middle man can make any rules he wants.
Take ownership. Right now, when you purchase an ebook from an online retailer, you only purchase the license. If the online store negotiates a new deal with a different company, then the book you paid for vanishes from your device. It happened this week with the game Tetris and it happened last year to owners of ebooks purchased via Microsoft's store.
A key component of any store I create is ownership. When I reader buys an ebook from me, they get the digital file. It'll be theirs to keep and do with what they want. Kind of like a paperback. Ownership. It's a fundamental thing for me, even though I still purchase ebooks via online stores. But at least I know it going in.
One might say, for example, that it'll never happen to Amazon because they're too big to fail. Well, so was AT&T in the 1980s.
Which Platform to Use?
When it comes to the selling platform, there are a wide range of choices. A friend of mine started up an online business in the last few months and he selected Shopify. They take any payment method he knows about and the onus is on Shopify to collect payment and distribute the money to his bank account. Now, you might think this contradicts my ownership argument, but when it comes to money, that's a whole other thing. Better to let Shopify, Stripe, or Apple take care of that.
Shopify has a decent number of templates you can use to get the store started. The minimum viable product, the MVP, or the 1.0 version of the store. I am simultaneously getting my store started while helping my wife get hers up, too. We can tweak as we go, so it's better to get it up and running.
Late this week, however, I learned about Payhip. Joanna Penn (as J.F. Penn) uses it and I dove into a bit of research about it. Payhip enables sellers of digital products (ebooks, software, music) to sell direct to customers. In terms of an MVP, I can enable Payhip on my author website with little effort, so I might try it first while I get the store setup.
I'll admit: I'm leaning to Shopify for many of the same reasons my friend used to start his store. If the new store grows rapidly, I can always upgrade along the way. It's remarkable the number of tools and services available to use creatives to distribute and sell what we make.
For any writers reading this, do y'all sell direct? I'd love to hear some real-world tales, pros and cons, about the various services.
Book Murdering?As it does multiple times a day, the internet exploded when a tweet was launched into the world. As best as I can discern, writer Alex Christofi posted a photo on Twitter of a few paperbacks that were ripped in half. The reason: better portability.
I love physical books: the smell, the feel, the shelf appeal. I have long taken pencil, pen, and highlighter to the pages of books I'm reading. Always in the Bible, often in non-fiction, and occasionally in fiction books when I see a particularly good piece of storytelling. I dogear pages if I don't have a bookmark or if I don't have any post-it notes handy. Basically, I view the book as mine and I can do with it whatever I want in order for me to get the most out of the reading experience.
Maybe it's the ebook reader in me, but I can't imagine ripping books in this manner. Granted, I don't have a commute via mass transit where carrying a heavy tome is something I do. I do all of my physical book reading at home where this isn't an issue.
But I can't imagine ripping a book like this. I don't find it particularly abhorrent. See my rational for book ownership above. But if Alex or other use this method to get the most out of the words on the pages--the real reason you buy a book in the first place--who am I to judge.
They would look weird on the shelf, however. Then again, you'd know exactly which books you've actually read.
TV Show of the Week: Modern Love
Just got around to seeing this show. Holy cow, is it good.
Modern Love, on Amazon Prime, is an eight episode series showcasing not only excellent acting and storytelling, but the various ways in which people love each other. From romantic love to familial love, old love to happenstance love, this show is a wonderful reminder that kindness and love can pierce through the mundane and the sadness we too often see in our world. The full review is here.