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I was talking in Pms with an author about this, and I said in the fall this could be a great thing! Get together with other authors doing it.. Say 5 of you each have 500 cards printed, you swap 100 off to each person, so you now each have 500 in 5-100 card sets. Go hit 2 local colleges, work with the bookstore (trust me college bookstores would probably jump at this- they are always looking for something new and cutting edge) and each college gets half of the cards. That means in the time it takes you to get these into 2 campus bookstores, you are now in 10. College students read on anything they can, and books from Smashwords work on all sorts of platforms. Then you have the word of mouth factor in the age group that breathes communication.
 

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I really like this idea. It needs some tweaking (as some have said, getting paid for the book while using Smashwords to get it free seems like cheating), and the initial costs of printing the cards are slightly prohibitive (for me, at least), but it has a lot of potential. Definitely something to think about for future sales.
 

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susie said:
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?
Nothing except copyright law. But there's nothing stopping them from doing the exact same thing without the cards, either.

susie said:
This may be the idea that saves the bookstores.
I'm not really convinced. It sounds nifty as a publicity item. (About 2-3x as expensive as printing up full-color bookmarks, but with a nice novelty aspect combined with a built-in value that will make it more likely for people to actually hold onto them.)

But while this might be a nice way to make an e-book sale to someone who's already at the bookstore, I can't see anyone making a trip to a bookstore in order to buy a product like this: You can't browse through it and without a very large display there's not much space to actually describe or market the book. It's inferior to the online experience in every possible way.

daringnovelist said:
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.)
This, OTOH, probably has some legs to it. It lets you give an ebook as a gift that can actually be unwrapped.

Might be interesting for a company to design accompanying Hallmark-style cards. I could easily see a rack of those working very well.
 

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modwitch said:
I could see it working for brand name authors, or $10 books. But honestly, at $3.99, with a book that appeals to a pretty wide audience, I'm not sure I see how this is cost effective.

I'd love to be wrong ;).
Agreed: this idea is for those who, like Dean, are ready to do retail distribution of physical objects, for a price which suits retail. I myself am more interested as a customer right now. I'd suggest that people read his "Think Like a Publisher" series completely before getting too excited. You not only have to get the physical printing and such done -- you also have to get the bookseller to carry your cards, and that is not going to be any easier than getting them to carry your physical BOOKS. (So you can start by following his instructions on that.)

I suspect that there will be distributors who start doing this -- just like the gift cards -- taking on products and putting them into displays they own. I think this is also something that Smashwords could do to expand their base. If Mark were to set up something like this (the way he does with affiliates), and the logistics just means a smaller cut... I'd sign up.

But generally, gift retail is a very tricky business, and that's what this would be. Small players are going to have distribution challenges -- but it's a great business to be in.

Camille
 

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Thanks for this link.  Very interesting!

Instead of just focusing on bookstores, which are businesses that traditionally expect to return stock that doesn't sell, I suggest we also think about other retailers, which, I believe, buy their stock outright.  While it could potentially be a hard sell to a bookstore, a retailer that sells gift items and that ties into your book's theme (if your book has a local angle, or is centered around a hobby that the store caters to, etc.) may be more open to stocking these by the register as gift items/impulse buys. 

It's certainly making me think!
 

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marielamba said:
Thanks for this link. Very interesting!

Instead of just focusing on bookstores, which are businesses that traditionally expect to return stock that doesn't sell, I suggest we also think about other retailers, which, I believe, buy their stock outright. While it could potentially be a hard sell to a bookstore, a retailer that sells gift items and that ties into your book's theme (if your book has a local angle, or is centered around a hobby that the store caters to, etc.) may be more open to stocking these by the register as gift items/impulse buys.

It's certainly making me think!
Actually, small booksellers (and even big ones when it comes to non-book items or small press) buy their stock outright too. That's why it's critical to be able to give a large discount.

Camille
 

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I love this idea. Thanks for the link.

I can see it working if a bunch of small indie writers get together and sell a $10 or $15 card that includes downloads of all of their books. Or for authors who have a larger series. This makes the cost of printing the card not nearly as bad and introduces readers to a lot of new writers at once.

And even for a $2.99 ebook with a cog of $.50 and 50% going to retailers you're still talking about making $1 which is not that bad. Sounds like a great stocking stuffer to me.
 

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From a discussion on this board on the 20th, about a Russian billionaire buying a big book chain -
'Interesting developments, indeed. They see something we don't, or have a new business model in mind; combining upscale coffee shops with a book retailer? Nah, been done.
Perhaps loading displays with colourful covers and blurbs, which allow buyers to download an ebook by use of a unique code sold in the 'cover card' - this would save storage space and give shoppers the live physical browsing experience while also getting into the ebook market.'
We then went on to consider the possibility of installing one of those Print on Demand Espresso Book machines alongside the displays of covers-with-blurbs. With that you could leave the store with your choice of a card with a code to download a copy, a newly printed hardcopy, or even a memory stick or reading device with the book loaded.
This model would need minimal floorspace, zero storage or shipping costs, and allow a physical browsing experience.
 
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