Author Topic: Selling ebooks directly from your own website  (Read 3848 times)  

Offline Abderian

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Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« Reply #25 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.


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    Offline The Bass Bagwhan

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    Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
    « Reply #26 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?
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    Offline Patty Jansen

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    Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
    « Reply #27 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.

    Offline ibizwiz

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    Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
    « Reply #28 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 ibizwiz

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    Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
    « Reply #29 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

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    Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
    « Reply #30 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. 


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    Offline Patty Jansen

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    Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
    « Reply #31 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 Damon J Courtney

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    Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
    « Reply #32 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. :)

    Offline Kwrite

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    Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
    « Reply #33 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

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    Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
    « Reply #34 on: June 17, 2018, 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.

    Offline ibizwiz

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    Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
    « Reply #35 on: June 17, 2018, 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.



    Offline Arches

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    Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
    « Reply #36 on: June 17, 2018, 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 Going Incognito

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    Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
    « Reply #37 on: June 17, 2018, 10:36:15 am »
    Beautiful bookfunnel post. Thank you, one Texan to another.  :-*

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