I've been brainstorming...
According to The International Digital Publishing Forum who collects quarterly US trade retail eBook sales in conjunction with the Association of American Publishers, eBook sales are going through the roof. Just compare the sales figures from the first quarter of 2009 ($25,800,000) to those of the same quarter of this year ($91,000,000). Not a bad increase during a recession, eh?
However, there has been little interest in eBooks here on FaithWriters (the newest post in the eBook Store topic of the forum is dated a year ago). Could this new industry be used to help FaithWriters, as well as some of its members, out of dire financial straits?
Although the groundwork exists for a competitive eBook store, there are a few problems with the current model. For one thing, it’s hard to find. For another, visitors are met by a “Sign Up For An Account” page, which is enough to send most people screaming back to Amazon.com; if books are what is being sold, books is what visitors should see. Thirdly, there is no rating system to create consumer confidence. Again, hello Amazon.
What I propose is an online presence similar to bigfishgames.com. It is exciting to visit and all the games are sold at a very reasonable price. The games are also rated according to popularity. Check it out.
The work to create/maintain such a site would be minimal since most of the programming – purchasing, delivery, etc. – already exists. It should operate separately from the existing section and have its own easy-to-remember URL.
Although contributors would be responsible for actually creating their eBooks (.pdf), each one should be approved by a panel of at least three “editors” to insure quality. In addition, this system would offer a platform for authors of works difficult to sell to traditional/CBA publishers (horror, sci-fi, poetry, etc.).
Advertising could be handled (at first) through Facebook ads. A good publicity angle would be eBooks are environmentally friendly (PUR is currently using this tactic to compete with bottled water companies).
FaithWriters would be paid a percentage of each eBook sold and the author pockets the rest (which even with a $4.95 “cover” price would amount to several times the commission on a traditional publication – about 7%). It is important to keep the price low enough (at first, anyway) to cause potential shoppers to shrug and say, “Oh… what the heck.”
Remember, the most successful internet ventures were enjoyed by those who got there first (Amazon, eBay, etc.).