Thursday 14 February 2013

Can a bookshop make money from ebooks? Yes!

Bookshops everywhere are worried. There's a revolution going on and they are losing sales because of it. The revolution is that of ebooks!

Oh I know there are those who say 'I love the feel and smell of a proper book' but these are mostly people who have not yet got an ebook reader. Once these people have got their hands on one it doesn't take long for them to change their minds. That means fewer sales of paper books.

Yet we all still like going to the library and browsing the books in a bookstore. Having found the book we like do we then buy the paper format or simply make a note of it and look it up at Amazon later to get it in ebook format? I have to admit, I've done the latter many times but felt guilty that I've denied the bookseller a profit from the sale. He/she has, after all, helped me in my book purchase.

So how can the bookstore make money from ebooks? I think there is an answer, and one which is simple to put in practice.

How a bookstore can cash-in on ebooks

The bookseller makes use of the many affiliate programs offered for ebooks. Smashwords seems to offer the best one but there are others such as Amazon and iBooks. Here's how to do this:
  1. If you, the bookseller, have not already joined an affiliate program then sign up for them at:
    Smashwords -
    Amazon UK -
    Amazon US -
    iTunes (iBooks) -
  2. If you do not have a Twitter account then sign up for that at
  3. For Amazon, add the site stripe to your Amazon account
  4. For Amazon, on your computer navigate to a book's page at Amazon and click the Twitter button on the associate site stripe toolbar
    Copy the text as far as the 'via@...
  5. If you're using the far more profitable Smashwords affiliate account the links are even easier to make - see here.
  6. Paste that text into a QL generator page on Internet. I use the QR Code generator at
    At this stage you can edit the text to include the price and any other details you wish to include.
  7. Copy the QR code generated and paste it into Word for further editing as follows:
  8. Print this out on a self adhesive label and fix it to a bookmark provided by the author. You can leave a stack of these at your sales desk, insert them in books or fix then to a thin card placed inside the back cover of a book (or on the back if there's space). You might also need to make a few posters advertising your ebook service and where the customer can get a free QR code scanner app for their mobile phone. (Try QR Droid
Customers browsing your books can scan the QR codes and buy the books immediately using Amazon's 'one touch'. You get the commission on the sale. 

Of course there is no reason why this should be restricted to using Amazon as an ebook provider. If an author comes into your store promoting his/her books negotiate a deal with them to sell their ebooks through Smashwords - Not only do they support more reading devices but they provide a higher royalty rate to the author - 85% and the affiliate rate can be set so that you get a higher commission on the sale than you would get from Amazon 30-40% would seem fair. (I give 35% affiliate commission at Smashwords)

You might also contact authors and invite them to send you some bookmarks featuring their book with an area on which you can stick your QL code.

You might even end up making more money from ebooks than you do from paper books and you won't have to do a thing at the till!

And authors? Try making and having printed some bookmarks. Here's some examples:

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