The Ideal eBookstore

I’ve had notes for several days, but seeing Shopping for eBooks the hard way finally made me do this post.

Amazon’s Kindle Bookstore does many things right, but still falls short.

All of the others compared to Amazon are simply pathetic.

These are the things an Ideal eBookstore would offer:

1) Multiple sort options: Don’t presume you know how I want to find things. Give me as many options as I can take! These include sorting on multiple options at once. Among the sort items available should be: price; writer; publisher; date published; and date added to store.

2) Email Alerts for writers: There are writers whose work I will automatically buy. Make it easier for me to do that by telling me when a new book by them is in your store!

3) Email Alerts for eBooks in stock: Don’t tell me to put something that can’t even be pre-ordered and won’t be available for six months in a Wish List. I want you to tell me when you have it. Why do I have to do what should be your work?

4) Marketing emails that ignore bestsellers in genres: Look, I know who the big sellers are. And I won’t read them. So ignore them when you market to me. Tell me about new writers and the midlist ones. They need the sales.

5) Marketing emails that give eBook tallies: I can’t see how many eBooks you’ve added this week. So tell me. And tell me how many in each category so I can go look.

6) Sampling: I really don’t care if this is online-only or a download. But make it worth my time. One store offers online sampling that is so pathetic, I wind up reading nothing but a book’s front matter! That’s no way to entice anyone to buy a book.

7) Affiliates: Spread your store all over the place. Although I won’t corrupt myself by becoming an Affiliate, others like this incentive.

8) Embedded web preview: Again, spread your store around so people can bump into it in unexpected places and can sample a book without having to open a new tab.

9) Brick & mortar Gift Cards: These are restrictive economic times. Not everyone still has plastic. Gift Cards are your economic lifeline, enabling people to buy without going through a bank.

10) Accounts/payments with Gift Cards: Not only should these cards be easy to find and buy, set up your eCommerce system so accounts can be created with them!

11) Buy an eBook as a gift: Why can’t this be done? How hard can it frikkin be? I pay for the book, you put it in that user’s Library, you send them a Gifting email, and they can go download it. BAM!

12) FREE section: Don’t bury or mix in free books with others. Put them in a distinct area. And it’d be better if there was a subset of Free, called Limited-Time Free. This would separate the public domain books from ones that are for-sale but trying to build an audience through a limited free promotion.

13) Books by price range: Let us slice this the way we want, not the way you want. I don’t want just High-Low or Low-High. And I don’t want only your ranges. Let me put in prices.

14) Report bad formatting: Do you know how much this button is needed? Let us report a book has bad formatting so you’ll have a tally of complaints to use against the publisher as leverage to get them to fix a book. And if they don’t comply, remove the book from your store.

Now all of you out there running these eBookstores, there’s your damned business plan and checklist to start from. If you can’t do that, get out of the business because you have no place being in it.

reposted with permission from Mike Cane’s Xblog


  1. Doug7 October, 2010

    I suspect that the “e-book as a gift” problem is dealing with returns. The recipient might already have that e-book, might have received it as a gift from multiple people, or might not want it.

    With paper books, they just return it to the store for credit. With e-books, it’s trickier. With the gift-giving holidays approaching, I’m expecting at least one e-book store to set up e-book gifting (probably Amazon). I’m also expecting the kinks to not be fully worked out of the system.

    As to the overall topic: aside from Amazon, has *any* of the big e-book stores shown even a glimmer of cluefulness in their online store design?

    1. Nate the great7 October, 2010

      I don’t see why refunds would be a problem. Amazon refund ebooks all the time.

      1. Doug7 October, 2010

        Which is one reason I expect Amazon to be the leader in this. The other big e-book stores don’t refund e-books.

        – Amazon: eligible for return and refund if we receive your request within 7 days of the date of purchase.
        – B&N: [doesn’t specifically say, but refunds are usually available if the e-book hasn’t yet been downloaded; the trick is that the NOOK likes to automatically download new purchases.]
        – Kobo: All Sales are final.
        – Borders: All sales of downloadable material are final.
        – Sony: There are no refunds…

        Amazon would just have to modify their 7-day limit to deal with gift returns, and they no doubt have the tech chops to do that. B&N would need to do something to keep gifts from automatically downloading. The other guys would need to set up a refunding system.

        Again, a lot of it comes down to just how crummy the big non-Amazon e-book stores are.

    2. Chris7 October, 2010

      I think geo-restrictions is another reason why gifting isn’t allowed. You’d end up with someone buying a book as a gift, only to have the recipient unable to open the book.

      Or if they allowed the purchase based solely on the location of the giver, it’d be too easy a work-around for geo-restrictions. There’d be professional gift-givers out there!


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