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Old 04-27-2012, 01:17 AM   #1
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Selling ebooks in bookshops

Do many bookshops also sell ebooks?

I'm a compulsive bookshop browser, and much prefer paying cash over the counter than the rigmarole of passwords, credit card numbers and other tedious digital aggravation.

I'd like to be able to stroll into my bookshop, buy the latest book as a hardback, or a paperback, or an ebook according to my choice, (I use all three formats), and pay over the counter with real money.

To get an ebook, I guess I'd have to take my reader in with me and have it loaded over the counter. Either that or on a thumb drive.

If booksops want to stay in business, it seems to me that they'd be pursuing this approach vigorously. But are they?
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Old 04-27-2012, 02:27 AM   #2
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I've been in one bookstore where they had an e-book corner. Terminals with USB cables (mini and micor) where attached. You picked your books and put them in your basket. At check out you inserted your credit card (IC chip variant only) in a slot on the keyboard, entered you PIN and Ok. When accepted the download started. Books had no DRM.
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Old 04-27-2012, 03:14 AM   #3
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A step towards what I was thinking--but I don't have a credit card, chip or otherwise. Cash or nothing.
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Old 04-27-2012, 03:26 AM   #4
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I completely agree with you, it should be possible to puchase e-books with cash, just like anything else. That you can't pay with cash seems like an illegality to me but IANAL, since cash is legal tender.
As we move into the digital world cash becomes an anomaly and central banks will no longer be able to regulate the economy, corporations can create their own tender.
For stores the allure is not having to pay salaries to cashiers. Let the customers charge themselves. Hence, the incentive for identity theft.
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Old 04-27-2012, 06:57 AM   #5
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I know of one independent store that sells e-books. However, I think that bookstores without physical books will go the way of the dinosaur. You don't see any record stores staying in business with mp3 sales. It is quite sad really.
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:28 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Pulpmeister View Post
Do many bookshops also sell ebooks?
There's a lot of talk about it but, no; they don't actually do it.
Not to any significant extent.
Not even the ones who might actually benefit from it; B&N, Kobo partners, etc.
(The few attempts to sell ebooks through independent bookstores are online, not in-store.)

In *theory* there is some potential there but ideally you'd need a new reader design (one with a docking port) so you could plug the reader into a kiosk console and have the DRM'ed ebook directly transferred. Failing that, current readers would need a firmware update to use WiFi to identify themselves and pair up with the consoles. (Or through USB, bypassing the Mass Storage mode.) The simplest design would require DRM-free ebooks.

The biggest virtue would be the ability to sell to non-PC owners.

A Redbox-style kiosk business would allow cash purchases and the Kiosks could be sited at supermarkets, pharmacies, dept stores, and convenience stores all over. It probably would not generate enough in rent to appeal to bookstores, though. It might appeal to newstands.

The problem is that in a world of smartphones and abundant wifi hotspots and home networks, straight online retailing serves the vast majority of buyers just fine.

Especially since the dominant platform (Kindle) allows Gift Card ebook purchases and those gift cards can be bought at B&M retail at many of the big supermarket and pharmacy chains. (Not sure about B&N and Kobo, though.)

Gift card buying isn't as convenient as actual cash buying but it's close enough. So, between the limited audience, the upfront cost for the Kiosks, and the need to rework the reader installed base there probably won't be enough of a market for anybody to risk it. (In the console gaming world, GAMESTOP does sell digital content in the form of product-specific download codes on cards but none of the existing ebookstores are set up for anything but gift card credits.)

I suppose there might be a place for this approach in the undeveloped ebook markets (europe, Japan) where there isn't a big installed base of ereaders to contend with but those markets also have low ebook sales volume to amortize the hardware costs so I can't really see B&M ebook retailing being much of a business.

Digital products just aren't a good fit for B&M sales outlets.

(Kiosk-based ebook serving is being deployed now but for *libraries*.)
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:40 AM   #7
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That you can't pay with cash seems like an illegality to me but IANAL, since cash is legal tender.
Actually at least two ebookstores that I know of do accept cash...
...by mail. (Checks and money orders, really.)
(BAEN and Fictionwise.)
https://www.baenebooks.com/t-micropay.aspx
http://www.fictionwise.com/help/eBook_FAQ.htm

WalMart recently added a cash payment system for their online sales operation: you place the order and it stays on hold until you go to a Walmart store and pay there. (You can also order online for delivery at the Walmart store.) Sears allows ordering (and paying) in-store.

Convenience-wise it is simply easier to convert cash into either a gift card or pre-paid credit card, with the gifft card being the cheaper approach.

As you say, we *are* moving to a (somewhat) cashless world.

In the US there are the first suggestions of phasing out cash altogether and some thought is being given to how to implement it but I doubt cash will be abolished any time soon. Cash will endure; on privacy and personal security grounds, if nothing else.

Plus, politicians need a hard-to-trace vehicle for their "unofficial" income.

Last edited by fjtorres; 04-27-2012 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:47 AM   #8
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Actually, there are more than talk in Sweden. Riidoo and Ugglan offers a service ( might still be in beta) that let's bookstores sell e-books. Billingska was the first one out, but more are coming.
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:49 AM   #9
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Actually, there are more than talk in Sweden. Riidoo and Ugglan offers a service ( might still be in beta) that let's bookstores sell e-books. Billingska was the first one out, but more are coming.
And how many ebooks are they *actually* selling that way?
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:00 PM   #10
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And how many ebooks are they *actually* selling that way?
Too early to say, really. The market is really in its infancy. I think they are trying to avoid all the mistakes that the music industry went through.

If we leave cash behind then every transaction will be traceable. Welcome to 1984 some 30 years late.
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:48 PM   #11
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Barnes and Noble does it. They just have to look up the ISBN number of the e-book, you pay for it at the register, and then I think you give them your email address and it syncs up with your account.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:06 PM   #12
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Norli Libris in Norway sells e-books loaded on magnetic cards. You need a special reader with a cardslot in the back, and you can buy the cards (one per books) in the stores. Want to read a new book? Just take out the card, put in a new one

They hope it becomes an industry standard
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:12 PM   #13
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Norli Libris in Norway sells e-books loaded on magnetic cards. You need a special reader with a cardslot in the back, and you can buy the cards (one per books) in the stores. Want to read a new book? Just take out the card, put in a new one

They hope it becomes an industry standard
That could have worked...14 years ago...
But 14 years ago even 256Kb flash cards were too expensive.
http://www.gutenbergnews.org/2011071...ebook-readers/
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Old 04-27-2012, 02:20 PM   #14
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One of the main benefits for me of ebooks is not having to drive to a store or having to wait for a physical book to get shipped from a physical location. As for paying by cash, I could honestly not care less if my credit card info were stolen; Visa would be out the money.

Does anyone remember when Sandisk tried to sell MP3s on SD cards? Ya, that lasted about as long as you'd expect.
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Old 04-27-2012, 04:30 PM   #15
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I think I would really enjoy the experience!
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