Many publishers and authors ask us about selling their eBooks from their own website, and there are many great reasons for this idea, for example:
Selling your own eBooks is completely possible, and can be very rewarding for these and other reasons. However, there are some drawbacks to selling your own eBooks.
First, applying Digital Rights Management (DRM) to an eBook is expensive, and can become prohibitive if you only have a few titles. As is explained on our DRM page, the only standardized DRM you are able to apply to your own eBooks is Adobe Content Server. The license for Adobe Content Server is very expensive, and the cost of setting it up and maintaining it is also regularly cost-prohibitive. The easiest way around these issues is to not worry about applying DRM to the files. That actually works in your favor in other ways, as well, since it means you can sell Kindle files in addition to ePub files.
Second, consumers are most comfortable buying eBooks from the major retailers because they have accounts already set up and the eBooks usually appear on their device after the purchase without any extra effort. Offering payment options like PayPal can be one way of making customers feel more comfortable about their personal data, and creating thoughtful, easy-to-execute download options for different devices is always an important part of selling your own eBooks.
Third, most publisher and author websites do not have a very large reach, so their discoverability is less than that of the major retailers. This can be addressed with solid marketing to your target audience, adding informative content on your website on a consistent basis, and using the retailers as a platform to push your most popular titles.
Fourth, most publishers and authors do not have the necessary infrastructure in place to sell eBooks on their own websites. There are not many web store solutions that include the ability to sell digital content natively, especially with DRM applied. However, there are some solutions to this problem, so it is not insurmountable.
If you are a publisher with at least 10 titles, Firebrand can set up Direct2Reader eBook sales capabilities to your own shopping cart, including management of Adobe Content Server. This allows your customers to purchase ePub files from you with the Adobe DRM applied, maintain a digital locker for downloads, and access your eBook store on their mobile devices. This also ties into Content Services, our eBook distribution service for publishers, and with NetGalley, our galley management service. For more information, please see the Direct2Reader page.
If you decide to sell or give away your eBook files on your own website, it is important to give your consumers the information they need to load those files on their eBook devices. This can become a little bit hairy because of the large number of devices on the market, so we normally recommend pointing consumers to the device websites for help and information on these processes.
Below is some template text (and links) you can use on your website to assist customers in knowing how to load their files. Feel free to copy, re-use, and adjust this text as needed:
To load the Kindle file (.mobi) on any Kindle device or in any Kindle app, first upload it to the Kindle Personal Documents Service. This service will allow the file to be treated like any Kindle book you purchase from Amazon, including syncing your bookmarks, reading location, highlights, etc. between your devices.
To load the EPUB file in iBooks on an iPad/iPhone, etc., add it to your iTunes library choosing File > Add to Library, or drag the EPUB file to the Books library in iTunes on your computer. Then just sync your device with iTunes to add the book to your iBooks library. Alternatively, you can visit the book download page on our website in your iPad browser (Safari, etc.) and click on the download link. That will open up a dialog on your device asking if you want to load the file in iBooks.
Here is a helpful video about how to sideload the EPUB file on a NOOK device.
To load the EPUB file on a Kobo device, use the Kobo Desktop application.
So, what if you don’t have the ability to sell eBooks on your own website? You might want to consider just pointing to the eBooks you have up for sale on the different retailers. We recommend you sign up for an affiliate account at each of the major eBook stores. These affiliate programs give you a kickback on each sale when someone follows a link from your website to the store. It is not the same as selling your own eBooks, but every little bit helps.
Apple: Affiliate program: http://www.apple.com/itunes/affiliates; Link Creator: http://itunes.apple.com/linkmaker