QR Code of the link to this article (in theory, I've not tested it)

E-Books Without iBooks Bookstore %#@^ing Things Up

Thanks to Warren Ellis in THIS POST, my attention was drawn to THIS POST over on the Massive Sqwertz blog. It’s essentially about “how to get your comic or book out to the people without having to use Apple’s retail set-​​up – called the iBookstore, naturally – which inevitably shall involve USA tax numbers (and if you’re a foreigner then you’ve got some forms to fill-​​out), the Agency Price Model, the possibility of having your content pulled if they don’t think you’re avoiding ‘naughty words’ sufficiently, and a chunk of money going to Steve Jobs’s little dog and pony show for the benefit of reaching billions of people wanting to see fancy things on their shiny iPad or iPhone or iPod Touch, or whatever.”

iBooks, on iShelves, on your iPad (click to initiate embiggenator)
iBooks, on iShelves, on your iPad (click to initiate embiggenator)

A shorter way to explain it would be to quote Mr. Ellis himself:

This might be fucking brilliant. A method for selling ebooks and comics to devices that doesn’t involve Apple. Laid out in what looks like almost idiotproof detail by Brett Jackson.

Oddly enough, the process outlined in the article, is astonishingly close to what Atomic Fez already has done with its electronic books since Day One: PayPal, automatic access to content, DRM–free, easy to read on a smart-​​phone.

There are some specific differences to the system as outlined in the article at the second link above, however.

  • I don’t use the QR Code image or IS.GD shortening for links
    • The PayPal button is pre-​​programmed with links longer than the average arm and leg, plus someone else’s appendages on top of that
  • I don’t have a canned e-​​mail reply to the buyer
    • Right after the transaction is completed via PayPal, the purchaser of books through the Atomic Fez site is automatically directed to a “dedicated to the title” download page
    • The Kobo & Kindle buttons take the customer to those sites, and it’s up to those companies to sell you e-​​books at that point
  • The file at the end of the transaction isn’t a PDF
    • It’s a *.ZIP file which contains an ePUB file, a PDF file, a PRC file (which you can re-​​name the extension of to AMZ for the Kindle), and an HTML file of the book
  • The transaction isn’t termed a ‘donation’
    • Which means Atomic Fez  pays the transaction fee of whatever percent of the selling price is (3.5% sticks in my head, however), what with it being an actual business and all
  • Uses the $_​_​.99 price model
    • Because I probably get off on being a sneaky bastard making you think that $4.99 isn’t five bucks
QR Code of the link to this article (in theory, I've not tested it)
QR Code of the link to this article (in theory, I’ve not tested it)

There’s a lot to be said for those extra details, however, especially if you’ve got a web-​​comic or book you’ve written, and you really want to figure out how to get things to people easily and are starting from scratch at this sort of thing. Due to being involved with small-​​press publishing for a few years now, some of the solutions were already known to me, but some of those specifics were things I had not thought of. For instance, the plan suggests using QR codes as a promotional tool; even shaving the pattern [image, right] into the back of someone’s head or the back of a dog. These new version of a bar-​​code are something which are quite new, and are intended mostly for mobile smart-​​phones. I don’t own a mobile*, and the use of them in adverts for links to purchase e-​​books (or anything, really) isn’t something that had crossed my mind as being something customers might like to do… or would you?

What with the PayPal buttons, the secure transaction is possible for everyone zooming here on the web. The site also uses a plug-​​in called WP Touch created by the geniuses at Brave New Code, guaranteeing that you can see most of the site on your smart-​​phone with the simplest of ease. In theory, the PayPal buttons should work just as well on the tiny screen of a mobile handset as on the screen of your laptop or desktop computer. So far, no one’s complained, so everything ought to be covered there.

That said, here’s the identical things to the plan done here that aren’t really pointed out in the list above.

  • All files are 100% DRM-​​free (for the ease of everyone’s life)
  • Downloadable immediately (so it can happen whilst I sleep)
  • Includes a PDF that’s guaranteed readable on your device… somehow (plus other formats too)
  • Uses PayPal for SMS–sending of money (probably; although you do need to go to this site to do it, instead of typing ultra-​​short link into your handset).

So, it’s not unheard-​​of, but certainly does have market exploitable aspects to it that ought to be taken a look at: shortened URLs, donation status, shaved dogs, and so on. It’s the way forward for just about anyone who wants an easy-​​to-​​implement solution(although maybe without the dogs).

The other thing that occurs to me is that much of the above is based on the purchasing of electronic books. This same process could easily be applied to buying printed books as well. No reason not to, what with people browsing the web on their mobiles; why not buy paper books this way as well?

Now, however, it’s over to you: does any of this make buying of electronic or paper books easier for you? Does any of it make buying them more attractive to you? Does it make the site, me, or our cats – should they have these patterns stenciled onto their fur – more attractive to you? Thoughts, anyone?


* The wife is now using my old one as I never really leave the house, and it’s not a smartphone anyway. Frankly, if I did get a mobile for myself, I’d get John’s Phone, which does everything it needs to, and if I go to the UK on business I can just swap-​​out the SIM-​​card instead of paying incredible roaming charges for only three weeks’ use once every 18 months or so. Besides, I already have a camera and a netbook, so why do I need those in my mobile as well? [back ↑]

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