I went to a bookstore opening for Back to the Books on Saturday and talked to author Bill Hubiak, who was there signing.  We brushed on the subject of ebooks: he’s selling some, and had color business cards giving the web addresses of place where people can buy the book.  I asked him whether he had any other ideas on how to sell ebooks at a book signing–but no dice.  Fast forward to today; thoughts about the booksigning are still running through my head.

So how hard would it be for a bookstore website to set up affiliate links for book purchases?

Well, that depends on the bookstore (and the state).  But let’s say that a) the bookstore already has a website, and b) the bookstore uses the website to promote author signings.

It should be doable to set up a page for the author’s signing that provides affiliate links to purchase the ebook versions of any of the author’s books.

And it should also be doable to have a booksigning computer: a small desk with a cheap computer on it with the browser open to the bookstore’s website…specifically, to the website of the author that’s signing at the moment.

At a bookstore and want to buy an ebook?  Great.  Sit down at the kiosk and buy it.  Then have the author sign a printed cover of the ebook (or postcard, or what have you).  Now you have an attractive souvenir and an ebook.

The bookstore isn’t making as big of a cut as they would if they were selling the book, but they’re not leaving money on the table.  However, it would force them to work with non-indie bookstores, and I think that would gall more than  a few of them.  Of benefit to the reader would be having the book available from their ereader’s bookstore (if they like), so it’s in their collection on the cloud: from my experience, this is a real benefit.

I’ve heard the idea of making scratch-off plastic gift cards to sell ebooks, and I thought it would be a good one, but the idea hasn’t taken off–mostly because it’s difficult with the way the systems are set up for authors to give out gift certificates.  Smashwords is great…but they’re a bridge too far for some readers.

Update:

Stephen Blackmore writes:

Actually, you just need a QR code. Mysterious Galaxy also sells through Google Books & has the code below the book on the shelf.   It’s on the bookstore’s end if the book’s available through Google. Here’s a list of indies that do it.

This is fantastic!