Another, better way to reach e-book readers

While pondering the e-book landscape, it’s best not to jump to any conclusions about how things will unfold. So far we’ve all been handed a few pieces of technology that are ungainly, untested, and extremely powerful. If you think you know how they will ultimately fit together, you are probably mistaken. There are some really smart and creative folks out there who are highly motivated to find clever ways to use what they’ve been handed, and they’re not done thinking things through.

Here’s an example, an idea buried (!) in a dialog between Joe Konrath and Blake Crouch on the state of e-book publishing.

Joe: Barry Eisler has been working with his web designer on a PayPal store that automatically delivers ebooks to anyone who wants to buy through his website. Which got me thinking.

If I gave Barry two of my titles to sell on his website, we could split the money 30/70 on any he sold. Then I could sell two titles of Barry’s on my website.

If I did this with a hundred authors, making sales from their books on my site, making sales from my books on their sites, I’m doing something analogous to cloud computing. I’m selling my books via a network rather than a specific location.

Blake: I’m also talking to a company right now who wants to do this very thing. They sought me out, because they saw a huge opportunity here to turn author websites into storefronts with the maximum amount of profit going to the writer. Their demo is mind-blowing and so smart. A reader can register their device on an author’s website, and with a 1-click, have an ebook delivered straight to the device, the convenience factor has suddenly made shopping at a writer’s website no different than shopping at Amazon or And don’t you think readers want to spend their money where the maximum amount goes to the writer?

Joe: Earlier, I talked about the ereader itself being a storefront. But web sites are also a storefront. They’re the purest type of storefront as well, because they are a direct link between reader and writer. No publishers taking money. No retailers taking money (other than a small PayPal fee.)

Writers need to have their own PayPal stores. And it’s a smart idea to say, "If you like my books, here are some others you might enjoy," and then offer other authors’ books, as well.

If you were selective, choosing only books in your genre with similar appeal, you’d be helping readers wade through all the ebooks out there by giving them specific recommendations.

One of the key pieces of the puzzle has proven to be one-click purchasing of ebooks. Folks are most likely to buy a book at the point of discovery, and each additional step needed to complete a purchase makes the purchase less likely. This is why writers should be thrilled to give Amazon 30% of the transaction when a reader discovers a book on their website. But it’s reasonable to be less thrilled about giving up that 30% when the reader discovered you through your own website—and then had to be redirected to another site, making the sale less likely. My guess is the cost of putting one-click ordering on your site will be much less than 30%.

I also love the idea of selling other writer’s books on your website. Everybody wins—your readers are exposed to writers you recommend, the other writers get some highly targeted exposure, and you are rewarded for sharing some of the attention you’ve earned.


One thought on “Another, better way to reach e-book readers

  1. I’m glad you’re still writing like this, I enjoy you connecting the dots and thinking out loud about this new world of books. We have yet to buy any reader or tablet or smart phone for that matter. My husband is a software engineer here in Ontario, so it’s not that we are Luddites. But I think of it as taking the wait-and-see approach to get a sense of where this technology will take us before we commit to a product line. I’m not an aspiring writer, I prefer to do the reading but I can see how this would make it easy to find worthwhile books from known authors.
    I’ve seen your name pop up on a few of my Google+ homeschool circles, but I haven’t really started using it like I do Facebook. But consider me a fan! :)

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