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This may be the idea that saves the bookstores.
 

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WOW... now that's an idea... has my mind scrambling right now! :)
 

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This is an AMAZING idea.

Great to see a way that indie writers and indie booksellers could work together for the benefit of both.

Dave
 

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dgaughran said:
This is an AMAZING idea.

Great to see a way that indie writers and indie booksellers could work together for the benefit of both.

Dave
And not only the Indie booksellers, either....imagine going into your local downtown bookshop and browsing in the paper book section or online, and then being able to buy a book on a card right there and then...with profits going to keep the bookstore alive...and the author fed, too, of course.
 

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I have a feeling that Smashwords and others may not like the idea that ebooks are free on their sites but that the cards are sold...especially since the authors may make more using this system than with their royalty systems.

It will be interesting to see how this evolves.  Our own Mr. Chen may have been right when he said something like ...being an Indie is like playing the old version of Pong and always struggling to keep up with the new versions of the game as they are brought out....(or something like that).

Actually, it's beginning to feel more like a game of chess.
 

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susie said:
I have a feeling that Smashwords and others may not like the idea that ebooks are free on their sites but that the cards are sold...especially since the authors may make more using this system than with their royalty systems.
Agree. I'm not crazy about using the Smashwords coupon because I would feel like I'm scamming Smashwords or something. But setting it up for a website would be cool.
 

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susie said:
I have a feeling that Smashwords and others may not like the idea that ebooks are free on their sites but that the cards are sold...especially since the authors may make more using this system than with their royalty systems.
Wondering about this, too. Yes, it brings new customers to Smashwords who might buy something, but what if not enough people do? Even now, without the gift card idea, Smashwords is spending a fortune offering the free downloads. They may only cost pennies a piece (in hardware, software, customer service time, etc.), but when you have hundreds of thousands of downloads, those pennies add up. Smashwords probably should get a cut, or at least charge authors/publishers a nominal fee per download. In that case, and if Smashwords could make gift codes that are one-time-use, the gift card idea would still likely be profitable for all.

--Maria
 
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That's a good idea. You could support indie bookstores quite easily like that, and reach a wider audience at the same time.
 

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That's a GREAT idea. Go with it, and use them as business cards almost. Drop some off at Starbucks, like those iTunes cards they always have. Get together with other authors doing the same thing, trade 100 cards to each other, and spend lunch one day (next fall of course) on a college campus passing them out to students (get clearance from the school to do this).

Heck, See if the college bookstore would do the deal. I bet they would jump at the chance. This would be almost a no brainer for them. (ps. check the college, find out how many English professors there are, and give them each a card for free.. Some of them run reading groups on campus.
 

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I've been chewing on this all day, and even went into the local ex-pat bar to ask if they'd be willing to carry a stock and sell them for me...no problem.

Now...not ever having put anything onto Smashwords, yet, and so not knowing about the details....what's to stop anyone from pirating books and doing the same thing?  This sounds too easy for anyone to do...what's to stop someone from copying a book, putting it onto an ebook site, then grabbing cards from it and selling them?

 

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You could do this through eJunkie, or all sorts of other sites: but because it's a great idea, I suspect Mark Coker won't take long to realize that something like this could be a great way to expand his own business as a distributor.  Done right, coordinating this could be a great revenue source for him.

Camille
 

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I think its a great idea and worth the experiment. With the same caveat that always applies, make sure your book is well edited and of high quality. The chance make a mis-step and ruin your 'rep' is great here. Now that I get the 'Debbie Downer' part of out of the way, I can see some good opportunity here to build up a rep as a 'real author'. I'm kind of suprised Hallmark hasn't picked this up to bundle their romance books with.

For Smashwords this a win, as its bringing traffic (and introducing) people who've never otherwise would have heard of them. To do that normally you'd have to launch a major televsion and print advertising buy (millions of dollars). The cost of providing a 'free' download to a first time customer is a pittance compared to that.
 

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It's a nice way to give a gift of a book, and if the card comes with nice packaging...it could almost look like a real book, with all of your information right there on the cover and inside.  As Mr. Smith points out, it could be free and transferable, just like when you buy a paperback and give it away after reading it...and then perhaps the reader would go looking for other works by the same author.

I think I'd like to get a gift like this.  I'd also like to be able to buy this as a gift for someone...easy to buy and mail to the recipient.

As an ordinary reader, one that already shops online for books, this might be a 'impulse buy', which can't be bad for sales for any author.


So....if sites such as Smashwords and Amazon think about this, it could be a great thing for them, too.  Sites could offer writers a choice between an ebook card or a paper copy, and charge accordingly...same as now with Createspace.  After all, what's to stop someone ordering a hundred copies of their book on Createspace and then selling that book for as much as they like?

The bulk buying power that the big sites have might make the entire card thing a very good deal even for the authors, it might be even less expensive to go through your ebook site than to go out and do it on your own, if TPTB think this out.
 

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I'm still wondering about the pirates.  Of course, you could then call it 'free advertising'.
 

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modwitch said:
Okay, I don't get it. Well, I sort of do - it's a nice way for readers to support indie bookstores. But at least in my town, most of the people who still go to indie bookstores don't eread. And people with ereaders don't go to bookstores. What would make them want to go to a bookstore now, vs. amazon (where they get an actual product description, instead of just a cover?)

At $0.36 a card (and that's if you order 1000), they're expensive to hand out as advertising (especially if you're selling a $0.99 book - not everyone will go collect the book, especially when they discover you have to know how to transfer a file to your ereader).

I can see doing a bigger display, with more information on the book, and then the cards. Maybe at indie bookstores, maybe at other local businesses and push the local author angle.

But most things sold on giftcards are commodities (minutes, credits, etc) or straight dollars, so you can do the actual choosing online or touching physical product.

It's a lot of hoops to jump through (go to the store, pick a book based on a card, go home and fiddle with your cables to get it onto your ereader vs. buy with 1-click on amazon). What's the upside for the reader?
A couple of points here:

First: as Dean said in his post, this is NOT for the 99 cent ebook, and probably not a good idea for the 2.99ers either. This really is for those who are pricing closer to $5 or above. (And frankly, I expect to see this from the publishers in the not too distant future.)

Second: Dean was inspired by the fact that not all gift cards are commodities any more. He was looking at a card which was specifically for one product when he got the idea. It's not much different than Amazon's gifting feature -- just a way to do it in person. A lot of people want to start giving more personal gifts again -- of books and music and such. (And given that even a $5 ebook is no more expensive than a greeting card .... which is another idea. Package this as a greeting card with a message and all.)

Third: there isn't a wall between paper book buyers and ebook buyers. A lot of us really miss bookstores, but we just don't want to buy the products they sell any more. Furthermore, I expect that brick and mortar booksellers will be more and more oriented toward gifts anyway. This would be a great way to bring ebooks into that fold.

But it does all go back to whether the audience is ready for it. Who knows? That gift card for WICKED which Kris and Dean found, we don't know that the effort succeeded, only that somebody is trying it. We'll see.

Camille
 
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