National Book Tokens is to launch “The Indie eBook Shop”, providing independent booksellers with the ability to retail e-books priced at r.r.p. at a commission of 17.5%.
The company has decided to develop the online transactional website to help indies sell e-books; it also launched an e-book giftcard.
The Indie eBook Shop will open in April after the London Book Fair, powered by Gardners and selling more than 350,000 e-books (including agency titles) with a 17.5% fee for indies on each book sold. The figure is understood to be more than double what Kobo and Gardners’ Hive offer booksellers.
Alex de Berry, managing director of National Book Tokens, said the website launch followed consultations with booksellers on the gift card. “It was clear that e-books were really hard for indies to sell and that when they do sell them, the margins tend to be quite small or uncertain, because they rely on factors largely outside their control, such as how much profit a company makes,” de Berry said. “Obviously from a business point of view it is hard for booksellers to invest in something where the return is unclear, but with this proposition it is very clear what it is going to be from the start.”
He added that the service had been built around the principle that booksellers would hand-sell e-books to customers in-store. Booksellers can register to become an affiliate with the service and thereafter add a web link to the e-book site to their own website, blog or email. The system will log every customer who buys an e-book from the site via the indies’ link, paying commission to booksellers by way of their Book Tokens giftcard account.
The e-books are in ePub format and will work on any device apart from Amazon’s Kindle. De Berry said: “Obviously a big caveat is that the Kindle isn’t included as Amazon isn’t a member of the BA, but the Nexus is growing, tablets are growing, the Kindle Fire is an open platform, so we are operating in a growing market with potential.” He added: “What we are not trying to do is convert people from physical book readers to e-book readers. The margin is still much lower than it would be on print books. But by September we hope booksellers will be in a position where they are facing Christmas with a digital book offering.”
Posters will soon be sent out for booksellers to display reading “eBooks Sold Here”.