Author Topic: Selling ebooks directly from your own website  (Read 2180 times)  

Offline Puddleduck

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1056
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #25 on: June 14, 2018, 08:27:40 AM »
The main attraction for a reader seems to be getting the book for less money, but I'm 99% sure Amazon isn't going to like an author discounting below the Amazon price.

Think outside the box a little, bud.

I set mine up using Wix, since I have a Wix site. It's incredibly easy and free to set up. Like, super duper easy. I only have digital content currently, but I'll probably add physical books at some point, which I guess might be a little more complicated to figure out.

I set the price the same as everywhere else (including Amazon). But see, as a retailer, I get to control my store. Which means I can make coupons. Very, very easy to set up on Wix. You can do 15% off everything, $5 off an order of $20 or more, $0.50 off a specific book, whatever you want. You can do it short-term or just leave it up all the time. You can make the coupon code visible on the site or only send it out to people who sign up for your newsletter (I have a separate one set up as a publisher to alert people to new products/sales, separately from my author newsletter, because I know not everyone wants the sales info). I have payments set up to go through PayPal, so I don't get any of the financial info, and Wix delivers the goods automatically.

I as the retailer have control of my own store. You make it sound like setting up a store is some huge, time consuming process with little return. It's not hard or time-consuming. If you're wide anyway (and I know you are not, but for those of us who are) and you have your own website, it's a pretty simple thing to add.

Sure, I guess you could choose to be a slave to Amazon and take whatever they're willing to toss at you, or you could take more control of your business in every way possible. Maybe I'm just inherently averse to bullying, but the more Amazon tries to control my business, the more I want to make them the least-preferred retailer (not the most, as they want to be--for everything they sell).

Online dianapersaud

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1889
    • View Profile
    • Diana Persaud
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #26 on: June 14, 2018, 08:44:52 AM »

And as far as tax, check with your tax professional for where you live. My accountant told me I don't have any sales tax/VAT obligation for places other than the state I live in (unless sales get over some certain amount, where other states' sales taxes might come into play, though my bet is those thresholds are well above what I will ever actually sell).

That seems like odd advice. Every documentation I've ever read says you have to collect VAT from specific countries (in the EU). I've never seen an exemption based on a specific dollar value. Amazon and Smashwords collect VAT on ebooks. I don't think small businesses (Indie authors) are exempt from this.

Does anyone have documentation that suggests we are exempt from VAT?

Diana Persaud | My Website

Offline Puddleduck

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1056
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #27 on: June 14, 2018, 08:49:23 AM »
That seems like odd advice. Every documentation I've ever read says you have to collect VAT from specific countries (in the EU). I've never seen an exemption based on a specific dollar value. Amazon and Smashwords collect VAT on ebooks. I don't think small businesses (Indie authors) are exempt from this.

Does anyone have documentation that suggests we are exempt from VAT?

There seems to be a belief out there that just because foreign governments want us to pay them tax, that we are under any legal obligation to do so. This is why I say to contact a tax professional where you live, rather than just taking common belief from the internet or foreign laws at face value. Amazon and other corporations are obligated to pay those things for their own reasons--they just decide to take VAT out of our cut instead of theirs. We can't really do anything to stop them, even though it's their obligation, not ours. If we've got a store on our own website, then the obligations of these larger corporations doesn't come into play, and we as small business owners don't necessarily need to do the same things that a worldwide corporation does. Don't assume. Don't take "everyone says so" as evidence or fact. Don't let a government that is not yours tell you what you have to do without verifying that your own government actually requires you to do it. Check with a professional.

Online ibizwiz

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 119
    • View Profile
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #28 on: June 14, 2018, 08:59:59 AM »
We're preparing to launch a serious test of direct ebook sales and expect to develop answers to many of the questions raised by the OP and others. "Serious" means heavy advertising in Facebook, with clicks going to a custom landing page which is Woo Commerce enabled and delivers via Bookfunnel. (Hi, Julie!). I used Patty Jansen's approach as my model. (Thanks again to you, Patty, for this and for years of solid guidance in this forum.)

Before starting our new publishing company, I had ten years as an Amazon apparel merchant, and had concluded that Amazon will never be a reliable business partner. I was willing to publish with KDP, but quickly learned that introducing a new series the conventional way in Amazon was not likely to succeed economically.

I came to Indie publishing from a forty-year career in technology development and marketing, so I'm used to hearing lots of doubts and skeptical observations.  I've never been offended since this kind of resistance is a very necessary part of the process of introducing a new way to do an old thing. The doubters force us to deal up front with buyers objections. In every new application design project I managed from the very first days of mainframes and online systems, the skeptics always made us think of better, simpler ways to do the job.

Julie's experience with her "CEO" is a case in point. In fact, Bookfunnel's decision to expand into direct sales support and integrate with Woo Commerce is what persuaded me to give this a determined try.

I won't attempt to convince any others to go this route, just give a nod to TwistedTales and the few who've pioneered it.

I will list a few of the things I've learned so far, however:

1  Volume is the problem to solve first, not after you've assembled all the pieces. To build a direct selling and customer support platform and then settle for a few hundred sales each month is an economic waste of time.

2  Go big or go home -- if your pilot effort earns out, be prepared to scale rapidly. Scaling is really hard, especially in Facebook ads. After sending the first two novels our series to the editors, I spent months poring over the accumulated wisdom of Facebook advertising consultants. This was in addition to taking Mark Dawson's course. I learned via reading and then my detailed emails from the best of them that they don't know that much about scaling, beyond increasing the ad spend. That won't work reliably or significantly or quickly with Facebook. Can you drive traffic to your content-rich landing pages with other ads? Or other traffic-gen tools like the excellent ones from UpViral? You need to know, and now. Solve how you'll do this before you invest in the several building blocks you'll need. Be ready to exploit launch success before you spend a single dollar on advertising.

3   Become an expert in landing pages. The folks at Instapage and its competitors know a very great deal, but their expertise is mainly in B2B marketing, not B2C, and certainly not in "converting" finicky readers. A successfully designed landing page will convert twice as many visitors to trying a free book or buying one as a slap-dash, copy-cat, template page will. Meaning doubling your direct sales revenues.

4   Limit your audience. Target a selected group of readers carefully and shape all your program around their needs and expectations. I agree with the several skeptics that many mass-market readers will not want to try this new channel. Forget them! Build a smarter, more demanding audience, especially those frustrated with Amazon's continuing decline in shopping quality and new book discovery.

5   If you have a new author name, or a new series with no branding, take even more care with your landing page and follow-up email campaigns. Selling a new series direct to readers means not just explaining the Woo + Bookfunnel delivery scheme, but engagingly presenting a new author and new main characters.

6   Given this doubled persuasion challenge, give your niche audience an entirely new experience. If they really want something, and cannot easily get it in the big stores, they'll be much readier to try the new delivery method. And make quality your lodestar: read-through will be the key success factor in selling series directly.

7   Read all of Patty Jansens comments on this topic, and when you do, see particularly how she uses her method to capitalize on her boxed sets. In our case, we'll have the first three-novel series boxed and ready for sale by November.

8    Sales taxes are potentially a major concern if one intends to build a substantial sales channel. Ive spent the better part of two weeks with reps at the two major services, Avalara and Taxjar, and have developed our strategy for handling tax filing if we succeed with our stealth launch phase. Mind, our books are written for a global target market, so well have issues both in the US and other countries.

I'll leave this topic for now with one, to me, all-important mantra: Facebook users are not looking for books; they're looking for entertainment. Engage their imagination and sense of humor, or curiosity, or dread, or mystery, or romance, and the selling will come naturally.

Best of luck to other wide authors and self-pubbers attempting to master this challenge. 

Online Mercia McMahon

  • Status: Dostoevsky
  • ******
  • Posts: 3618
  • Gender: Female
  • London
  • living in the Shadow of pulp speed
    • View Profile
    • Mercia McMahon
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #29 on: June 14, 2018, 02:49:40 PM »
That seems like odd advice. Every documentation I've ever read says you have to collect VAT from specific countries (in the EU). I've never seen an exemption based on a specific dollar value. Amazon and Smashwords collect VAT on ebooks. I don't think small businesses (Indie authors) are exempt from this.
Does anyone have documentation that suggests we are exempt from VAT?

It's not odd advice, but sounds like it's advice about other United states rather other country states. Everyone selling to customers in the EU have to collect tax. The hoo-haa over the switch to VAT rates being based on the customer's address in 2015 brought the earning possibility to other countries attention and from memory Google Play have informed me about new VAT type policies for Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Not sure of the precise countries but Japan was the first I received a notification about. Any business without an office in the EU has had to charge VAT based on customer's address since 2008 for digital products. So Second Life lowered my annual fee when I moved from Ireland back to the UK in 2008 (i.e., Irish VAT rates were higher). Exemption from charging VAT applies only to residents of that country. E.g., if I sold in the UK to only UK residents I could avoid registering for VAT until my income (not profits) reached something like 85,000 pounds. Ireland has a similarly high rate, but as I am no longer a resident of that blessed isle I would have to charge VAT from the first euro of income. There was a kboards thread recently titled "Help Canada says I owe GST." International GST/VAT laws are complex so professional advice is recommended. Hoping they won't notice little old you is a fine policy until they do notice you when it becomes a completely stupid [mule] policy.


no longer writing political works (for work reasons)
Mercia McMahon | Author Site | Publishing Site | Pinterest

Offline Puddleduck

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1056
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #30 on: June 14, 2018, 04:01:35 PM »
It's not odd advice, but sounds like it's advice about other United states rather other country states.

No, I specifically asked my accountant about both other states' sales taxes as well as other countries' VAT. Because, again, just because another country wants me to collect and pay taxes to them doesn't mean I have any obligation as far as my own government is concerned to do so. And as many times as this issue has come up on these boards, I've still never seen anyone point to an actual US law that says US citizens selling online from a US address are required to collect and remit taxes to a foreign government. I'm inclined to take my tax professional's opinion over hearsay on the internet or opinions from non-Americans (who will obviously be less familiar with US tax laws than a US tax professional). This isn't "hoping they won't catch me". This is me not having any actual legal or ethical obligation. (And anyway, due to the way my store is set up, I don't even collect enough customer information to know where they live.)

Online Mercia McMahon

  • Status: Dostoevsky
  • ******
  • Posts: 3618
  • Gender: Female
  • London
  • living in the Shadow of pulp speed
    • View Profile
    • Mercia McMahon
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #31 on: June 14, 2018, 05:04:48 PM »
And as many times as this issue has come up on these boards, I've still never seen anyone point to an actual US law that says US citizens selling online from a US address are required to collect and remit taxes to a foreign government. I'm inclined to take my tax professional's opinion over hearsay on the internet or opinions from non-Americans (who will obviously be less familiar with US tax laws than a US tax professional).

Every time someone has a thread like this my response is to note that in 2008 Second Life (based in California) started charging me VAT because I lived in the EU. I am sure that Second LIfe can afford top notch tax professionals.

From the Smashwords Site Update of December 2014
Quote
Smashwords has always distributed books through our global retailers at a VAT-inclusive price.  This means that VAT for European sales was deducted from the sales price, and only then did the retailer take their cut before sending the remaining proceeds to Smashwords.
Smashwords (a California company) can afford good tax professionals (based in Bainbridge Island, Washington State).

Maybe your tax professional is smarter than those employed by Second Life and Smashwords. Maybe not.


no longer writing political works (for work reasons)
Mercia McMahon | Author Site | Publishing Site | Pinterest

Offline Puddleduck

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1056
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #32 on: June 14, 2018, 06:31:23 PM »
Maybe your tax professional is smarter than those employed by Second Life and Smashwords. Maybe not.

I tend not to base business (or personal, for that matter) decisions on assumptions about why some company/person that is very much not me has made the decisions they have. I like to go to the source and get information of my own. And every time this issue comes up and people ask for specific US law that they can look up and read for themselves which compels US citizens to pay foreign taxes like VAT, no one can ever come up with an actual source document. It's always, "Well, obviously," or, "The EU says," or "So-and-so's doing it." None of which is an actual US law that we can read for ourselves. I'm open to someone pointing such a law out, but until I see something like that, all I can do is ask a professional who actually knows about the tax laws in the state and country that I live in.

Online Kwrite

  • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
  • **
  • Posts: 75
    • View Profile
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #33 on: June 14, 2018, 08:35:26 PM »
No, I specifically asked my accountant about both other states' sales taxes as well as other countries' VAT. Because, again, just because another country wants me to collect and pay taxes to them doesn't mean I have any obligation as far as my own government is concerned to do so. And as many times as this issue has come up on these boards, I've still never seen anyone point to an actual US law that says US citizens selling online from a US address are required to collect and remit taxes to a foreign government. I'm inclined to take my tax professional's opinion over hearsay on the internet or opinions from non-Americans (who will obviously be less familiar with US tax laws than a US tax professional). This isn't "hoping they won't catch me". This is me not having any actual legal or ethical obligation. (And anyway, due to the way my store is set up, I don't even collect enough customer information to know where they live.)

I'm not going to get into VAT or GST/HST filing requirements, but I say this as someone who works in public accounting and prepares state sales tax filings for some of our clients, I would revisit sales tax discussions with your accountant. What experience does he/she have in SALT? I ask because CPA doesn't necessarily = current on all state sales tax laws. We have a group that does nothing but state income and sales tax. A lot of our Tax CPA are not current on all state/local sales tax rulings and need to defer to our SALT group when needing to address client questions. I'm hesitant to sell direct from my website b/c as someone who has to deal with state sales tax filings in my day job, I know what a pain in the you-know-what it can be. After discussions with one of my sales tax managers, I agree with him that selling through Amazon creates nexus, and wherever Amazon has physical location & is required to pay sales tax to that state, I would be required should I sell to someone in that state. Also, I hope that you are collecting enough information to know where you're selling to. Even should your accountant disagree with me about Amazon & nexus, at the very least you should be collecting & readmitting sales tax in your own state. If you aren't collecting information, how would you know when you do so? Lastly, I'm confused about this "threshold" you must meet before being required to pay sales tax to another state. I'm not aware of one. If you're only selling direct from your website & nowhere else, then you only have to worry about your own state. But if you're selling through Amazon and/or B&N, I strongly recommend another discussion with your accountant.

Offline Abderian

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1469
    • View Profile
    • JJ Green
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #34 on: June 14, 2018, 09:57:35 PM »
I tend not to base business (or personal, for that matter) decisions on assumptions about why some company/person that is very much not me has made the decisions they have. I like to go to the source and get information of my own. And every time this issue comes up and people ask for specific US law that they can look up and read for themselves which compels US citizens to pay foreign taxes like VAT, no one can ever come up with an actual source document. It's always, "Well, obviously," or, "The EU says," or "So-and-so's doing it." None of which is an actual US law that we can read for ourselves. I'm open to someone pointing such a law out, but until I see something like that, all I can do is ask a professional who actually knows about the tax laws in the state and country that I live in.

To be honest your accountant sounds a bit dodgy. I would hesitate to work with someone who bases their professional decisions and client's best interests on their personal interpretation of the rules and not what is standard interpretation/practice.

J.J. Green | Website | Twitter | Facebook

Offline The Bass Bagwhan

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1074
  • Gender: Male
  • Western Australia
  • Horror & Urban Fantasy... I think.
    • View Profile
    • Graeme Hague
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #35 on: June 14, 2018, 10:09:23 PM »
Even if Book Funnel is a solution to the side-loading problems (sorry, I haven't researched BF yet) isn't there an added issue if you're doing audiobooks through ACX? Because Audible demands any audiobook be available as a book on Amazon. So you'd be selling direct and through Amazon to meet audiobook requirements?
Author, freelance writer and editor, professional musician, recording engineer... published in Australia, the UK and Germany. So why am I poor? Oh, wait...
I'll be a writer... seemed like a good idea at the time

Online Patty Jansen

  • Status: Harvey Chute
  • *********
  • Posts: 12209
  • Gender: Female
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Destroyer of Science Fiction
    • View Profile
    • Patty Jansen Author of SF and fantasy
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #36 on: June 14, 2018, 10:23:03 PM »
Even if Book Funnel is a solution to the side-loading problems (sorry, I haven't researched BF yet) isn't there an added issue if you're doing audiobooks through ACX? Because Audible demands any audiobook be available as a book on Amazon. So you'd be selling direct and through Amazon to meet audiobook requirements?

Of course. Selling direct doesn't mean that you don't put books on Amazon. It can mean that, but most likely, it doesn't.

Online ibizwiz

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 119
    • View Profile
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #37 on: June 15, 2018, 10:36:19 AM »
Emphasizing this:

Of course. Selling direct doesn't mean that you don't put books on Amazon. It can mean that, but most likely, it doesn't.

If my long comment gave anyone the impression we won't make our books available at the proper time on Amazon, let me apologize. We want Amazon along with readers who prefer the other stores to have access to our books once we're ready to officially release them. By pre-releasing them however we can discount and give away as we see fit. Try different pricing points. Experiment with special sets and collections. And when we're ready, offer the boxed set to our list at a price well under what we'll be charging in the stores.

Before I decided to go into systems in the middle of the last century I was trained in mathematical economics and operations research. Thanks to several professors who showed great patience with my impatience, I'm able to draw inferences from numbers reflecting behavior. Just ask my current wife!

This approach we're about to test is merely an adaptation of the commonly accepted thinking behind A/B testing. I found the conventional way of launching a new title or series in Amazon maddening, because the various promo channels could not be tested. The numbers couldn't be compared with any precision. Success (for the few who found it) was willy-nilly. It seemed obvious to stop throwing money at the problem when one had no quantitatively reliable method to decide how much to spend, and no way after the nail-biting to say with certainty if it was worth it. Instead, find and adapt a statistically reliable method to book launching. As Mark Dawson recognized three years ago, Facebook is really the only promotional platform that has the numbers and operational stability over time to allow one to say "This stategy works!" And then repeat the performance over and over.

So yes, we'll list the books in Amazon and the other stores, but only after we have solid data on what the early-bird readers think of them -- and how much they appear to be willing to pay for them. And, just to be clear, after a good many have signed up for our series mailing list, so we can go into Amazon with momentum.

As I said, I'm not touting this time-consuming, costly method to anyone. I may well be wrong about one aspect or technique or timing assumption or another. As a quantitative analyst, I expect to be wrong. That's a good thing, because I'll have numbers that tell me where I messed up, and why, and how to fix it.

« Last Edit: June 15, 2018, 03:09:41 PM by ibizwiz »

Offline Puddleduck

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1056
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #38 on: June 15, 2018, 12:06:11 PM »
Also, I hope that you are collecting enough information to know where you're selling to. Even should your accountant disagree with me about Amazon & nexus, at the very least you should be collecting & readmitting sales tax in your own state. If you aren't collecting information, how would you know when you do so?

The answer to that question is always: never. Why? Because I live in a state without any sales tax.

I went to the IRS website to see if I could email them directly to ask about this. And apparently it's impossible to email a question to the IRS. You can only phone. What is this, the seventies?

Online ibizwiz

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 119
    • View Profile
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #39 on: June 15, 2018, 03:08:14 PM »
I didn't want to comment on sales taxes here, since it's a large subject. But several commenters seem to think they can simply ask a lawyer for advice regarding sales from their own site, while others assume they aren't liable for some reason or other, obtained from soneone or other. In fact the sales and use tax laws in the US are muddled and even problematic. The long accepted assumptions of "nexus" is in question, as states and localities try and tax sales made over the internet to their residents. Plus there is a pending Supreme Court decision due this month or in early July that could utterly redefine the groundrules for taxation of sales made by out-of-state sellers. And certain states are not waiting for the the legal ruling: Illinois has decided to tax all "economic" sales beginning in October of this year, while Iowa passed a law to tax Internet sales beginning in 2019. With all due respect, I suggest many local tax accountants and business lawyers are probably uninformed with respect to the current ecommerce tax issues in states other than the one where you're operating.

If you are selling direct you need to get the real information, or risk a costly audit and potential legal action down the road. My business (not legal!) advice is to:

1  Not ask me for help or guidance.
2  Do the basic research on nexus using the many free resources online.
3  Subscribe to the free monthly Sales Tax Institute newsletter at salestaxinstitute.com.
4  Sign up for free at Taxjar.com and gain access to their well-organized, hugely helpful archive of state-by-state data. It is kept up to date, right down to the local sales taxes.

I won't go into non-US taxes, other than to say I've found the (free) library of "foreign" resources at Avalara.com to be very helpful. Uniquely among smaller business tax services, Avalara has actual service offices in six or so overseas locations, as well as numerous offices around this country. For a seller who is wide, their info is a good starting point IMO.
 

Offline Diana Kimpton

  • Status: Dr. Seuss
  • *
  • Posts: 27
  • UK
    • View Profile
    • dianakimpton.co.uk
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #40 on: June 16, 2018, 06:37:33 AM »
As an avid ebook reader, I want books to download direct to my Kindle so wouldn't buy from an author website. I suspect I'm not alone in feeling like that. 


Author of more than 40 books and several scripts. Writes for adults as well as children.
Diana Kimpton | website

Online Patty Jansen

  • Status: Harvey Chute
  • *********
  • Posts: 12209
  • Gender: Female
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Destroyer of Science Fiction
    • View Profile
    • Patty Jansen Author of SF and fantasy
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #41 on: June 16, 2018, 06:40:30 AM »
As an avid ebook reader, I want books to download direct to my Kindle so wouldn't buy from an author website. I suspect I'm not alone in feeling like that. 


Bookfunnel allows you to do that. Your book goes to whatever device you want.

Offline Al Stevens

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2138
    • View Profile
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #42 on: June 16, 2018, 01:39:42 PM »
I just browsed Bookfunnel to see how they address the sideload issue. Typically the buyer tells bookfunnel the email address of the e-reader device. That's a bit of a distance from the one-click delivery you get with Kindle and others. For them, the buyer needs to have the device registered with them. That's more than one click too, but it's only one time after which it's one click for each purchase. The registration process also automatically senses from the device how to make the connection. The buyer doesn't need to look up and type in the e-reader's email address. Or even know that there is one.

[geel alert]
If I was going to do this, I'd download Calibre's source code. Then I'd reverse-engineer the code that effects their sideload via USB cable from the computer to the e-reader device. A plug-in for browsers comes next. All the buyer would need to do is connect the device to the computer with its USB cable and click download for the book being bought. If the plug-in hasn't been installed, the user would be asked to allow that.

One cable connection, one click.
[/geek alert]

This explanation is a simplification, I admit, but a good programmer should be able to implement it.

Now expecting the usual, "If it's all that easy, Al, why don't you do it?" To answer: I don't need it, don't want it, and I retired from programming, distributing and supporting software a long time ago.

But I'm willing to discuss it. Preferably where geeks hang out. :D Good luck.

Offline Al Stevens

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2138
    • View Profile
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #43 on: June 16, 2018, 01:45:15 PM »
A much simpler solution would be for your website to ask the buyer for the e-reader's email address. Store that in a cookie for future purchases and then email the book's file as an attachment by using the html mailto: tag.

Online Damon J Courtney

  • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
  • **
  • Posts: 87
    • View Profile
    • damonjcourtney.com
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #44 on: June 16, 2018, 05:18:21 PM »
I just browsed Bookfunnel to see how they address the sideload issue. Typically the buyer tells bookfunnel the email address of the e-reader device. That's a bit of a distance from the one-click delivery you get with Kindle and others. For them, the buyer needs to have the device registered with them. That's more than one click too, but it's only one time after which it's one click for each purchase. The registration process also automatically senses from the device how to make the connection. The buyer doesn't need to look up and type in the e-reader's email address. Or even know that there is one.

[geek alert]
If I was going to do this, I'd download Calibre's source code. Then I'd reverse-engineer the code that effects their sideload via USB cable from the computer to the e-reader device. A plug-in for browsers comes next. All the buyer would need to do is connect the device to the computer with its USB cable and click download for the book being bought. If the plug-in hasn't been installed, the user would be asked to allow that.

One cable connection, one click.
[/geek alert]

This explanation is a simplification, I admit, but a good programmer should be able to implement it.

Now expecting the usual, "If it's all that easy, Al, why don't you do it?" To answer: I don't need it, don't want it, and I retired from programming, distributing and supporting software a long time ago.

But I'm willing to discuss it. Preferably where geeks hang out. :D Good luck.

Hey, Al! Creator of BookFunnel here, grain of salt, I think we're awesome, yada yada yada. :)

BookFunnel goes a good bit further than what you saw. If you're being asked for an email address, that's not the download page, that's the page where a reader can sign up to join your mailing list. They don't receive the book download until AFTER they sign up in most cases.

Once you hit the download page, BookFunnel automatically detects your device and walks the reader through the process based on that device. You probably only saw what was there for the one device you're browsing on. We support dozens of device and app manufacturers and hundreds of devices and apps, and our support team is trained on all of them to be able to help any reader.

For any iOS device (about 48% of our downloads), it's two clicks, and the book is in their app. For Android, they download a small app from us that makes the process one click (after installing the app the first time). We do the same for the Kindle Fire, though it takes a few more steps because Amazon has locked it down more than your typical Android device. Kindle and Kobo e-readers can download directly to their device via the tiny, built-in browser with a few simple steps. We did a lot of work to support every major device in the easiest possible way.

Your idea of using Calibre's internals is not a bad one, and they actually have a command-line tool that will do just what you're describing. You wouldn't even need to rip apart their source. You just point the command-line tool at the file and your device, and away it goes.

The problem there is that the vast majority of readers are on mobile devices. Many of them browsing from their very reading device. And they HATE having to dig out a USB cable, connect it to a computer (many don't have one anymore, or at least not one they can reach easily), and then copy files over. Even if it were as simple as downloading and connecting. We consider a USB cable the last possible resort for a reader to get a book, but our support team will walk the reader through it if they need it.

I tell people all the time that side loading can still be an issue for some readers. Our support team can attest to that. But, that's the best thing you get with BookFunnel: our support team. Our software walks them through getting their book, but if there is any problem, or if they have a question, our team is there to help them every step of the way. All Texans, and all super polite and friendly. We specialize in technophobic, little old ladies. :)

Online Kwrite

  • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
  • **
  • Posts: 75
    • View Profile
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #45 on: June 16, 2018, 05:40:35 PM »
The answer to that question is always: never. Why? Because I live in a state without any sales tax.

I went to the IRS website to see if I could email them directly to ask about this. And apparently it's impossible to email a question to the IRS. You can only phone. What is this, the seventies?

Okay. I didn't realize you lived in one of the 5 states that doesn't require state sales tax. I may have skimmed over that if mentioned earlier. Still, my advise is to again speak to your accountant if you're selling through Amazon. Also be aware of the pending Supreme Court case South Dakota v Wayfair Inc. Depending on the results of this case, you might have to collect sales tax in states you don't have nexus or a physical presence in.

Also please note: the IRS has nothing to do with state sales taxes. Anything sent to the IRS has to be fax, not email. And hold time is usually 1-2 hours. At least based on all of my experience.

Offline Nate Hoffelder

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 226
  • I build websites, and blog about ebooks
    • View Profile
    • The Digital Reader
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #46 on: Yesterday at 03:43:53 AM »
There seems to be a belief out there that just because foreign governments want us to pay them tax, that we are under any legal obligation to do so.
the US govt is pretty insistent that Americans have to collect the VAT on sales to EU:
https://www.export.gov/article?id=European-Union-How-the-EU-s-Value-Added-Tax-VAT-Impacts-U-S-Exports-2016

I don't, but then again I don't do enough direct sales for it to matter.
- Nate, publisher of The Digital Reader blog - www.the-digital-reader.com

Ask me how to speed up your site, the best bookshelf plugins, how to get your site ranked in Google, and why your site keeps crashing. If I don't know I will find out.

I offer free site critiques (tech, content, and design) and I will happily tell you what your tech guy needs to do.

Online ibizwiz

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 119
    • View Profile
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #47 on: Yesterday at 07:14:15 AM »

Once you hit the download page, BookFunnel automatically detects your device and walks the reader through the process based on that device. You probably only saw what was there for the one device you're browsing on. We support dozens of device and app manufacturers and hundreds of devices and apps, and our support team is trained on all of them to be able to help any reader.


Thanks, Damon for clearing the delivery process air. And to Al Stevens and the several skeptics for raising issues and asking questions. Like Al and Damon, my background is in software, where one needs to begin the design process with the user's needs and "buyer's objections", then make a product or service that deals with each one.

The greatest strength of Damon's approach is the emphasis on after-sale customer support. But having been in his industry I'll add another strength he modestly failed to emphasize. BookFunnel evolves. Having started their business model-design at the end of the process, they've committed their company to the never-ending process of keeping current with end-user reader technology. Now they've "backwards-extended" their scope to include the selling process. I'm launching a business that will sell books all over the globe, and being able to satisfy every buyer's needs is a fundamental requirement.

Will there be issues with one device or another over time? Naturally; that's the nature of networked interaction technology. Will anyone other than BookFunnel be likely to solve the issue as speedily as Damon's team? My long experience in the industry says no.
 
I have a mantra stuck to one of my PC displays that reads "MOPA". It means "My Own Private Amazon", and serves to remind every day that I'm not simply trying to patch together services like BookFunnel and Woo Commerce. I'm creating a full "customer experience" to use the current jargon. My little platform doesn't simply sell books. It has to incorporate the entire process of marketing, discovery, sales admin, and customer support.

Sales tax collection and filing is another part of this process, and, like the reader technology, taxes on Internet sales are messy now and will get messier still for online booksellers. Having correct, up to date info is the first step to coping with your potential liability, and my previous comment in this thread tells where to get it for free. EG, you'll see that there are just two US states that do not collect sales taxes, not "five". You'll also fathom the complexity of "nexus".

Obviously, building an economically viable direct selling platform is not a realistic option for the vast majority of Indie author/publishers. First one has to understand that we're in a trade which, like so many others, roughly adheres to the Pareto principle, where the 20% effort to create a commercially marketable book leads to the 80% effort of production, promotion, sale, delivery, and post-sale reader base/community building. One needs a saleable catalog. One needs a large, qualified list to drive buyers to the selling site/landing page.

A well-thought-through direct selling platform can make this daunting challenge manageable. You may decide you're not a candidate now to build your own selling channel. But be aware that, thanks to BookFunnel's gritty commitment to service and Damon's integration with WooCommerce and other selling solutions, the single messiest part of the direct selling process is solved. We're at the point IMO where direct selling has become viable for a much larger number of Indies than it was just six months ago.



Online Arches

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 378
  • Gender: Male
  • Denver
    • View Profile
    • Michael Arches
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #48 on: Yesterday at 07:33:29 AM »
 
I have a mantra stuck to one of my PC displays that reads "MOPA". It means "My Own Private Amazon", and serves to remind every day that I'm not simply trying to patch together services like BookFunnel and Woo Commerce. I'm creating a full "customer experience" to use the current jargon. My little platform doesn't simply sell books. It has to incorporate the entire process of marketing, discovery, sales admin, and customer support.

Sales tax collection and filing is another part of this process, and, like the reader technology, taxes on Internet sales are messy now and will get messier still for online booksellers. Having correct, up to date info is the first step to coping with your potential liability, and my previous comment in this thread tells where to get it for free. EG, you'll see that there are just two US states that do not collect sales taxes, not "five". You'll also fathom the complexity of "nexus".

Obviously, building an economically viable direct selling platform is not a realistic option for the vast majority of Indie author/publishers. First one has to understand that we're in a trade which, like so many others, roughly adheres to the Pareto principle, where the 20% effort to create a commercially marketable book leads to the 80% effort of production, promotion, sale, delivery, and post-sale reader base/community building. One needs a saleable catalog. One needs a large, qualified list to drive buyers to the selling site/landing page.

A well-thought-through direct selling platform can make this daunting challenge manageable. You may decide you're not a candidate now to build your own selling channel. But be aware that, thanks to BookFunnel's gritty commitment to service and Damon's integration with WooCommerce and other selling solutions, the single messiest part of the direct selling process is solved. We're at the point IMO where direct selling has become viable for a much larger number of Indies than it was just six months ago.

I think you've captured the heart of the issue, namely creating MOPA. Some people enjoy that kind of thing and eagerly face the challenge of creating their own private marketplace. For me, however, I'd much rather focus on writing more books to put on an existing marketplace that sells them pretty well. I don't have any particularly objections to Amazon that I don't have with other large businesses, so I avoid the hassle of selling through other vendors or on my own. It's a personal choice.

Offline Al Stevens

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2138
    • View Profile
Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #49 on: Yesterday at 10:30:55 AM »
If you're being asked for an email address, that's not the download page, that's the page where a reader can sign up to join your mailing list.
No, I was not at that page. I went to the page with Chrome on my PC to download your sample Alice in Wonderland book. It asked which kind of device I had and then it asked for that device's email address.

Once you hit the download page, BookFunnel automatically detects your device...
That assumes the user connects from the e-reader device. Obviously it can't "automatically detect" a device that is not connected to the computer being used to visit your site.

You probably only saw what was there for the one device you're browsing on.
No, I was browsing on my PC and I saw the two choices mentioned above.
The problem there is that the vast majority of readers are on mobile devices. Many of them browsing from their very reading device. And they HATE having to dig out a USB cable, connect it to a computer (many don't have one anymore, or at least not one they can reach easily)...
Hmm. I wonder how they charge them. :D

I tried using my Kindle Voyage's experimental browser to access Bookfunnel.com. Not ready for prime time. (the browser, that is.)