Selling Books Online? Offer Options!

I’ve said for a long time that every author website should include a photo of the book cover(s) and links to buy on every page. But what’s become even more of an issue of late is the various ways a book can be sold, and the various vendors that sell it.

When I first started creating author websites, Amazon was the preferred vendor for selling books. We had one “Buy the Book” link under each cover, and that simply linked to Amazon.

But times have certainly changed. Here’s what’s happened in the last five years:

  1. Some self-published authors have decided to sell the book themselves — even offering autographed copies to those who buy directly from them.
  2. Books are now available in Kindle/Nook/iTunes form, as well as the traditional hard copy
  3. Book vendors have made a point of demanding that they receive equal attention in a Buy the Book link. I’ve had authors contacted by companies like B&N, who tell them that unless their site is given equal weight with Amazon on the author website, they would stop selling the book altogether.

So what does all this mean? Well, it certainly makes selling books more complicated.

In short, you can’t really have one “Buy the Book” link any more. If you do, it needs to at least link to a menu of the various ways the book can be bought. Here are a few examples of ways that we’ve done that:

  • Lost in Plain Sight — the “Buy the Book” link goes to a page that lists the various vendors
  • Clare O’Donohue — there are buttons for each vendor right next to the book cover
  • Rebecca Merrill — we included links to each vendor (and each form of the book that’s sold through the vendors) under the book cover
  • Coach Coretese — we include a PayPal “Buy the Book” payment icon

Offering all these options is a nice perk for consumers as well. After all, if a potential reader has free shipping with Amazon, prefers to pay via PayPal or has a gift certificate for Barnes & Noble, then he or she will have an extra incentive to buy your book if you offer it through their preferred vendor.

Here’s to selling more copies!