Gumroad Goes Where Aerbook Already Treads
When I wrote about the Gumroad Hachette deal on Monday I said that Hachette would have to find a new partner if it wanted to scale its book sales on Twitter effort beyond just a few titles.
Gumroad simply doesn’t offer key features required for selling books at scale, like a shopping cart, storefront, etc, but that’s okay because there’s another company that is working on offering all of these features. It’s called Aerbook.
Aerbook is a white label ecommerce platform which is designed to go where the customers are. It’s built to integrate with social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and offer users of those services the option to pitch products to their followers.
Aerbook hasn’t gotten a lot of press yet, but you may have read it in March in PW:
What’s the best way to sell a book in the era of social media? Ron Martinez believes it may just be Aerbook, a venture he founded that creates branding and retail opportunities in social media for publishers and authors. The service, Martinez explained, allows publishers to connect with its readers via the social streams—i.e., the timeline, news feed, and boards—on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and similar applications, offering product information, sample chapters, social sharing, and, now, buy buttons.
“It’s a shift from just advertising to commerce,” Martinez said of Aerbook’s model. “It’s completely available to any book.” He described Aerbook as a form of “native” commerce that produces interactive social content and links to purchasing opportunities that can be sent down the social streams of targeted consumers, alongside their posts, RTs, and social chit chat. The service is focused on selling digital as well as print books, but Martinez emphasized that it can be used to sell anything.
In describing Aerbook, I think it would be best to compare it to Gumroad. While the latter service is designed around one-off sales of digital content, Aerbook can sell anywhere from one to dozens of items, including both digital and physical goods.
Aer.io is still in beta, but Aerbook is up and running. It can sell ebooks – or direct customers to retail sites including the Kindle Store.
And it can also sell paper books.
Aerbook has a deal with Ingram for the latter to act as a fulfillment service for anyone who sells via Aerbook. Basically if Ingram has a book in their warehouse, you can set up a store to sell it on Aerbook.
While Hachette is dabbling with Gumroad and selling only 3 titles, you can set up a site on Aerbook and sell dozens. Each item will have a listing page which looks something like this one:
Or if you want to upload an ebook and sell it yourself, it could look like this:
As Aer.io is still in beta, certain features like a store maker are still being rolled out. And its selection of products is currently limited to media (books, DVDs, etc) but that is going to expand as more suppliers are signed up.
But even though it is in beta, Aer.io is still leagues ahead of Gumroad. The latter service is still wrapping its head around the idea of selling physical media, while Aer.io is built to sell anything which can be drop shipped or downloaded.
What’s more, Gumroad is creator-centric rather than being focused on selling stuff. As Pando Daily put it:
Delk says Gumroad will be careful to choose partners that share its creator-first mentality — and Hachette has already proven its pro-artist bonafides by fighting one of the most powerful companies in the US to protect its authors’ livelihoods.
“In all these industries whether it’s music or publishing, [labels and publishers] all play a very vital role,” Delk says. “Part of why we’re looking at Hachette is that they’re really really excited about helping their artists make more money.”
That attitude is great and all (actually, i think Delk’s viewpoint of Hachette is wrong to the point of being delusional, but I’m not allowed to use words like that any more).
But if I were looking for an ecommerce platform I would want one that wants to sell stuff. By Gumroad’s own statement, that is not what it wants to do.
Peter Turner December 12, 2014 um 9:09 am
Aerbooks is well-know to the major book publishers because of the Ingram partnership (they’re also an investor). I think the key question is why Hachette decided to partner with Gumroad instead; surely there must a logistical or strategic reason that isn’t apparent.
Ron Martinez December 12, 2014 um 5:43 pm
Aer.io and Gumroad are very different services, as Nate has articulated. Different use cases.
Aer.io will let any individual, organization, or enterprise create, customize, and curate a storefront that can be dropped into any site with a line of code, drawing from a catalog of nearly 2MM products from thousands of publishers. That storefront operator is like a super affiliate, earning significant revenue from sales but also getting the customer relationship. You could bring up your personal bookstore, Peter. With both your books and Amanda Palmer’s. For example…
Making those products richly visible and purchasable within social streams and apps (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, G+, LinkedIn, etc.) is an important aspect of our service. But we also believe that in a mobile/social world, these are table stakes.
Aer.io is working to make these capabilities available to everyone, in addition to fine, individual artists like Amanda Palmer. The Gumroad/Hachette release is great, in that it raises the visibility of native commerce. But stay tuned.
Peter Turner December 12, 2014 um 6:24 pm
Don’t get me wrong, Ron, as you know I’ve been following Aer.io for a while now and love what you all are doing. I just wanted to raise the question about Hachette working with Gumroad to highlight the difference in the use case and biz model.
Aer.io and my start up inbooks.com (due to go public at the end of March) are maybe barking up the same tree–connecting people with books where they are, rather than trying to drive them to a destination eCommerce site. At some point, we should compare notes again.
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