There’s been much talk of late about the need to develop an ubiquitous bookstore to better compete with Amazon. Between Gumroad, e-Junkie, and Aer.io, authors and publishers have a bevy of options for selling direct, and pretty soon they’ll have one more.
StreetLib is a new white-label retail platform from the Italian digital publishing company Simplicissimus. Rather than draw customers into a custom store, Streetlib is designed to be integrated into other websites.
It provides easy to use widgets which let website owners simply drop a couple lines of code into a webpage and create a fully functional store. (Or at least that is how it is supposed to work; I bet I could break the widget.) The retailer can choose which ebook titles to stock from Streetlib’s catalog, resulting in a curated bookstore which reflects the retailer’s interests and focus.
Here’s an example from the Streetlib website:
When an ebook is sold, the website owner gets 15%, with another 15% going to Streetlib and 70% going to the supplier. That supplier can be either a publisher or an author who had uploaded their ebooks through Narcissus, the self-pub platform run by Simplicissimus.
And to be clear, an author can sell their own work on their own website and, assuming all goes well, recoup 85% of the retail price. That’s pretty good, but it’s not as good as Gumroad, which charges 5% plus a 25 cent fee.
On the other hand, Gumroad comes with a whole host of problems, including useful features hidden from creators, poorly written FAQ and support pages, a mis-identification problem with collecting payments, and more.
Why, no, I don’t like Gumroad, but I am including all of these details not just to bash the platform but also so you can better evaluate StreetLib, Aer.io, or one of their competitors.
White-label retail platforms like Gumroad have been around for at least 5 years (e-Junkie dates back to 2003) and over time I expect new platforms to supplant existing ones. By pointing out the flaws in one platform I am hoping to help authors and publishers avoid similar issues when they evaluate other platforms.