Do you have a website for your book? Does your website also serve as a storefront? Are you selling a lot of books from the storefront on your website? For those who’ve answered “yes” to all questions, I congratulate you for your stellar achievements. Why? Because it takes a rare set of skills above and beyond creativity to successfully design, market, sell and distribute your eBooks and printed books online--without help from some kind of publishing software.
Evolution of Digital Distribution
Digital distribution (also known as content delivery, online distribution and electronic software distribution) delivers and distributes media content such as eBooks, audio, video, software and video games. The term generally describes distribution over an online delivery platform, bypassing physical distribution methods, such as paper, compact discs, DVDs and brick-and-mortar stores,.
Most of us are now regular customers of some of the eCommerce operations which have become mainstays in today’s world. Sites such as Amazon, eBay and others have given us the option to purchase whatever we want with just a few clicks of a button, versus making a trip to our local stores. In the case of books, Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iBooks and platforms such as Smashwords have created digital stores focused on specifically selling eBooks.
Last year, in my BookWorks blog, I reviewed reKiosk, which launched in 2012. They are an indie retailer still in beta providing services for creators, in which indie authors can open up digital kiosks on their site. Focused on small presses and indie music labels, as of January, 2016, ReKiosk indicates that approximately 500 independent publishers are using their services, including such notable personalities as Julian Assange who promoted his popular eBook on their platform, titled Cypherpunks.
Aer.io, A Different Mousetrap
Aer.io, on the other hand, founded by Ron Martinez, decided to shift the storefront paradigm from what we’ve seen before. Instead of relying on a commercial presence on sites like reKiosk, authors can now set up their own storefronts. Established as a direct-to-consumer solution for publishers, this allows self-publishing writers to offer their eBooks and printed books to purchasers direct from their own websites.
Ingram Content Group, which is a major distributor for independent bookstores and operates a print-on-demand business model, saw value in this type of proposition and acquired Aer.io last December. Regarding the acquisition, Marcus Woodburn, vice president, digital products at Ingram Content Group, said: “The addition of Aer.io addresses our customers’ growing desire to connect more directly with their readers. Aer.io extends the sales network of anyone with a web presence - whether a publisher, author or bookseller - and will provide the ability to sell content worldwide.”
“Even before their acquisition by Ingram this week, I would have said the big news is the evolution of Ron Martinez’s retailing tools at Aer.io, which, for the first time starts to address the problem of distribution for indie authors, especially those who publish print books. Aer.io allows authors to sell direct to readers on their own site or through the social web. This will also spur authors to build their own independent platforms of readers, helping them realize real income directly from their own publishing efforts.“
How it Works
Aer.io’s software allows individuals and publishing sites to create stores, get opt-in customer relations, and curate a selection of products, books, DVDs, graphic novels and more from a catalog of 2 million. These stores can be shared in a simple link, and for those writers familiar with YouTube, can be embedded as easily as uploading a video.
Overall, the economics of selling books are, in effect, made transparent. Martinez says: "Every book you put in, we show what the wholesale price is, what the minimum cost of the sale is, what the list price is, and the cost of the book, plus the shipping and handling, so you can discount all the way down and make no profits, Or you can sell it at list price.”
"You can discount it to a price lower than on Amazon, because they don't do the same deep discounts for all books, just the bestsellers. So, you have power that you never had before. You could even charge considerably more for books if you were doing it for fundraising. ... And there's a lot going on, on that front.”
How Much Does It Cost?
Aer.io offers three marketing services that range from zero to $99 per year. For those who’d like a chance to kick the tires before considering one of their premium levels, I’d suggest the Aer.io “Retail” package which provides you with a free set-up and no annual fees. There you can upload your eBooks and offer them alongside print editions drawn from the millions of books in Ingram Content Group’s library.
Then you can brand your offerings and sell on your website, in addition to the social web (which is another option offered.) Aer.io charges a 10% commission of the selling price of each sale and handles fulfillment and support. Sign-up for the service, complete with a simple four-step registration process can be found here.
Your Thoughts Readers?
If Aer.io is something you’ve tested already, we would love to hear back from you about your experience with it. And if not, please let us know if Aer.io is the type of platform you might consider for your self-publishing needs in 2016, and if so, why. We really appreciate your feedback.
Readers & Writers: I look forward to your feedback, comments and critiques, and please use BookWorks.com as your resource to learn more about preparing, publishing and promoting self-published books. My blogs appear bi-weekly on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month.
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