Starting an Ebook Business
By Alan King
You’ve decided to start an Ebook business. Ebook distribution is the easy part. This doesn’t mean it is all that easy. Every time the Ebook is sent out, by FTP, email or straight download using a web browser, the ISP has to carry the burden. When you set up your account, there was a maximum amount to download within a given period of time, and exceeding that results in additional fees. It is well worth checking that carefully to ensure that you can either not hit that limit, or that your pricing scheme compensates. Additionally, if you use the low-tech option and email the books, it is surprisingly easy to be tagged as a spammer and blocked by many servers for suspicious behavior.
For those who can’t write their own shopping cart software, and who don’t have a friend who can write secure shopping cart software, there are alternatives. A quick web search shows several companies willing to sell or lease their services to run your shopping cart for you. There are electronic commerce packages that include access to shopping cart software, open source and proprietary shopping cart software and free shopping cart software. Before going with the latter, investigate their service to determine where they make their money, and if this is something that will not hinder your plans.
Naturally, there are a great many features in every possible combination available. Try and determine what your customers will desire, whether you expect customers to carefully look through everything you offer and select a few products or you expect customers to routinely select large segments of your line. Since you are selling Ebooks, this means you’ll want the software to either automatically begin an Ebook download to the customer or to automatically provide a link for the customer to download the Ebook when it is convenient, perhaps with a time limit of some sort.
With a focus on Ebook business in particular, there is no need for a physical distribution model except in special cases. For those special cases, a plan to physically mail a CD with the documents burned to them for a set fee is probably sufficient and those can be created at need. This greatly simplifies the model. This also means that there is no need for a physical warehouse to store stock, reducing overhead and workload in very attractive ways. This means the limiting factor in how many Ebooks you handle is your ability to write or buy rights to the Ebooks.
It is worth considering what to do if a known customer contacts you because some sort of computer failure has destroyed their copy of the Ebook. Depending on the nature of the specific market you are trying to reach, a case can be made for a resale, a resale at a reduced price or a replacement. It is worth figuring that out before it happens to ensure you aren’t rushed into a decision.