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Thread: Setting up an online bookstore

  1. #1
    Moderator Kay is a Premium Member
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    Setting up an online bookstore

    Before we start, I know that this isn't going to make me rich. But I want to do it anyway.

    Background

    I read a heck of a lot of Kindle books and these days I quite often review them on Amazon. I can't see the benefit to me of writing all these reviews. Why am I doing it? I don't know. I would be better using this content on my own site rather than giving Amazon my free labour. I'm mostly reading books related to online business because the subject fascinates me. Sometimes I can read up to half a dozen a day! You can get loads of free books on Kindle and some of the "books" are very short, which is how come I can read so many. You can even get some really good books this way because many (most?) authors put their books on a free promo when they launch.

    Implementation

    So, I want to put this content onto my blog. This could be done manually - create webpage - add book descriptions (reviews) - sell books with affiliate link. The disadvantage of this is that it's, er, manual. Too much work for an end result which will probably look amateurish.

    The obvious solution to this is to set up a new Amazon aStore. It's free and simple to set up (we've already got aStores for other sites), and Amazon makes it all very easy to add books to your store. I can't remember the exact process but somewhere during the stage of buying or reviewing a book there's an "add to aStore" button. I was thinking I could add an excerpt of my review where one would normally enter a product description. Going down the aStore route seems so blindingly obvious, I wonder if I'm missing something.

    Would any of you do it differently? Why?

    Monetising

    I've got other aStores which I'm using as book shops. For example, my food blogs sells cookbooks (mostly ones I like) via an aStore. It's a while since I checked how much I've earned - it might even be into double figures by now! A specific problem with this proposed new bookstore is that the majority of books I review get one star ratings with comments such as, "This book is full of bullsh!t. Don't buy it." Believe it or not some people do buy things after I've recommend they don't. It's happened a few times on my food blog. Anyway, maybe that will add to the "trust" of the site that all my business book reviews are totally honest.

    If I've built up enough reviews to reach a critical mass, do you think it's possible that people might visit my blog before buying a book to see how I reviewed it, and then buy (or not) from there. I know Amazon has reviews for most books but an awful lot of these reviews are shills, revenge ratings, sabotage, and all sorts of things. Mostly you can't trust the reviews.

    Maybe this whole idea is a waste of time. But I'm reading and sometimes writing about the books anyway and it would be more content for my blog. I don't really see any reason not to do it other than the fact that it probably won't make any money. Please don't rain on my parade as I would like to have my own little bookstore selling business books.

    Is there anyone here who is making money from an online bookstore? What's the secret sauce? How do you push a potential buyer through your sales funnel? I'll need to look again at attribution and how Amazon cookies work. Does anyone know off the top of their head how they do it?

    It would nice to have some people joining in and posting rather than just reading everything. Go on. Say something.
    British Expat - helping people to live and work abroad since the year 2000.

    The joy of Internet delivery - the cartoon illustrating this will make you laugh!



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  3. #2
    Marketing Mentor Mikl is a Premium Member
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    Kay,

    You've raised some interesting questions. I've had a little experience of selling books through an aStore, although I suspect you know more about it than I do.

    I'll just make a few points, in no particular order:

    1. On my vegetarian site, I have affiliate links to specific books. In each case, I select the book in accordance with the subject and content of the page. I format the ad myself (as opposed to using an Amazon widget), and I add a few words for the main selling points. I've also tried selling the same books through an aStore. Despite the fact that I had a prominent link to the aStore from every page on the site, it was always out-performed by the individual links to specific books. I made (and still make) a reasonable income from the affiliate links, but only a very small proportion of this came from the aStore.

    I believe the reason for this was, quite simply, that it required an extra click to get from the original page to place where the visitor sees the info about the book - and most visitors have no incentive to make that click.

    But that was just my experience. You might do it better than I did.

    2. Although the aStore is easy to set up, it still requires the same maintenance as the ordinary affiliate links. You have to regularly review your selection to make sure the book is still available.

    3. Pehaps the biggest problem with an aStore is that it is country-specific. With my normal affiliate ads, I put links to Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, and hope the visitor will choose the correct one. With the aStore, you have to set it up for the specific country, which means you'll lose all the visitors who shop in a different country.

    4. Despite the huge and growing popularity of ebooks, most of my Amazon book sales are still for paper books. I don't know why.

    5. You mentioned cookies. As you no doubt know, an Amazon session lasts 24 hours. So any purchase (with some minor exceptions) made within 24 hours of the customer clicking your link will qualify. However, if I've understood the operating agreement correctly, once the customer has made their first non-digital purchase in a session, any subsequent Kindle purchases made in that session do not qualify. So if they buy a paper book, and then buy a dozen Kindle books, you only get paid for the paper book.

    These are just a few thoughts off the top of my head. I hope you find them of some use.

    Mike

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  5. #3
    Moderator Kay is a Premium Member
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    Thanks, Mike!

    Re your point #1, I'm pretty much doing it the same way as you do on my food blog. As well as doing specific book reviews with "buy now" links on their own blog postings, there's also plenty of scope to sell books on other postings too. Eg, if I write a recipe about lasagne, I could write "learn more about Italian cooking" with buy now links to a suitable cookbook.

    I think there would be a lot less scope to do that with business books. Maybe not, if I got creative about it. My foodie aStore doesn't perform well (understatement) for book sales, except at Christmas where I'll sell maybe a handful. The funny thing with aStore, which is fine by me, is that the few sales it does make are most often for things I don't even sell. Thus I've sold baby-related garden equipment and even things I never knew existed.

    #2. Yes, but I'd be doing a blog posting for a lot of the books anyway not least because the reviews would be too long to use as a product description. The idea for the aStore was more about browsing. People who know the blog and like my book reviews might browse in my bookstore with the knowledge that if they buy any book in there, it comes personally reviewed by me in my own straight talking way. Besides, having the books for sale displayed nicely in the way an aStore does might be a better sales tool than just blog postings. Yeah, right. I know, if this was intended to be a money making venture I'd probably have talked myself out of it by now.

    #3. Country-based could be more of a problem with my business blog. The food blog is very UK-based, but the business one is much more global. Plus I don't like the idea of losing the other countries, but I don't suppose the blog has a significant number of foreign-language visitors if you don't count Russian spammers and Indian blammers.

    #4. I'd expect that with cookbooks. I very rarely get them on Kindle, not even if they're free. I like the tactile quality of a "real" book, plus plenty of pretty pictures. With a business book, I like the instant gratification of Kindle, plus they're easy to store or dispose of. Much more convenient.

    #5. Cookies. I didn't know about the specific subsequent purchases thing. Aye, Amazon. We've said it before, but they do sometimes make it so very difficult to make money as their affiliate.

    Amazon is just like Google is to search - a massive secretive monopoly and your choice is take it or leave it because there's no one to touch them.

    All very helpful, thanks.
    British Expat - helping people to live and work abroad since the year 2000.

    The joy of Internet delivery - the cartoon illustrating this will make you laugh!



  6. #4
    aka "meathead1234" Thomas is a Premium Member
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    My honest advice would be don't bother. Trying to make money selling books through an a-store is going to be a complete waste of time for the return. You would have to sell tens of thousands of books a month to make it worthwhile.

    If you wanted to add value in this niche, then the best thing to do would be posting your reviews on your blog, trying to specialize (by genre, new releases or whatever) and building up a list of people who are interested in what you have to say (this is a novelty to me as well, but apparently some people do like to listen to me!). Once you have a following you can get to the stage when you are "featuring" new releases and getting paid for it. I just launched a book on Amazon (humour niche) and at the moment I'm looking for relevant review sites that do exactly this - and they definitely exist/make money. And, of course, if you have a following of people reading your reviews, you'll have a captive audience ready to go when you release a book(s) of your own.

    Bear in mind I'm looking at this from a business perspective, I only start projects if I think they can be worth my while. What I consider worthwhile will obviously be different for each person.

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  8. #5
    Publishing Mentor dsieg58 is a Premium Member
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    I agree with Thomas, and unfortunately, I don't have anything positive to add. I've never had any luck with Amazon products, or selling them as an affiliate. So to be successful you'll need your own audience. I would try using guest posting (With a link back to your site, of course) on high traffic sites in order to leverage their traffic, while you build your audience. It seems like an awful lot of work and years down the road to build to make it profitable to me. I'm sorry I can't offer more optimism.

  9. #6
    Moderator Kay is a Premium Member
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    Some good ideas there, Thomas. Thanks.

    I could do a book of the month or similar (ie my recommendation). Remember, I'm reading all these books anyway and already reviewing some of them for my blog, some for Amazon, and sometimes for both. The reasons why I spend time reviewing books which I think are a rip-off have nothing to do with making money. I have this wild and crazy idea that perhaps it'll be of some small help towards making it less lucrative for the get-rich-quick brigade to make money from some PLR rubbish they've cobbled together in less than half an hour. Kindle is full of these and it would be nice to see these pests exterminated. Better to do something small than do nothing at all. Also, I have this hope that somehow it'll save people from wasting their money on rip-offs.

    Good idea on the list too. I should already be doing that for my blog but there are always so many other things to do...

    I suppose I thought that the aStore would look nice - especially for presenting a lot of books on one page. I used to think aStores looked "professional" too, but now every man and his dog has one they just seem run of the mill.

    Yep. There are very few good reasons to do it, and I really don't need any more hobby projects.

    Good luck with your new book! Do tell more. Tell us the ASIN too, if you you like.

    I'm currently writing a book about insects. Don't ask why. I don't know why myself. Despite having never shown even the remotest interest in entomology before, I suddenly took it into my head that I should write a book about insects. It's an amazing subject - absolutely fascinating. I might even go so far as to say I like insects now but I still scream if there's a cockroach in the loo.
    British Expat - helping people to live and work abroad since the year 2000.

    The joy of Internet delivery - the cartoon illustrating this will make you laugh!



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