Tuesday, May 24

How to Sell Ebooks in Bookstores


Problem: How can a brick and mortar bookstore sell an electronic book?
Answer: Put the book on a card!

One day, in addition to stores carrying racks of gift cards for iTunes, groceries, phone minutes, etc., there will be one for books. (This idea is from Dean Wesley Smith.)

Imagine walking into your local bookstore, buying a plastic book card, scratching the back of the card to reveal the code, going to Smashwords and entering the code to download a book.

Yes, granted, simply going to Smashwords (or Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com etc) and buying the book would be simpler, but using a book card would be one more way for readers to find authors and it would be a way for bookstores to sell ebooks.


The question of whether ebooks and Amazon are killing bookstores took on new life this last Monday when Amazon announced they were launching a fifth publishing imprint, Thomas and Mercer, and that this imprint would make its books available in "Kindle, print and audio formats at www.amazon.com, as well as at national and independent booksellers. (emphasis mine)"

I'm not sure what Barnes and Noble's reaction was but many of the independent bookstores said, "Heck no! Amazon is our competitor, we're not selling anything they publish."

From the perspective of a bookstore, one part of the problem is Amazon's ability to sell print print books more cheaply than your average independent store and ship them to customers less expensively. The other part is that Amazon can sell ebooks and brick and mortar (or whatever they are made of these days!) stores can't. Sales of ebooks are gradually increasing and sales of print books are declining. It has come to the point that many brick and mortar bookstore owners are wondering if they will still be operating in five years.

That's where Dean Wesley Smith's idea of a-book-on-a-card comes in. It would be a way for physical bookstores to sell electronic books. I'm not sure if it would be enough to keep bookstores from going out of business, but it is something.

For details on how the process of selling and buying book cards would work, I urge you to read Dean Wesley Smith's blog post on the subject.

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