If you liked book tokens…
May 24, 2011 § 5 Comments
I was reading the blog of Mr Dean Wesley Smith this morning, specifically a post about a proposed way of selling electronic books as a physical product which can be stocked in a high street book shop. The idea is to print gift cards with a scratch-off panel on the back, underneath which will be a code. A code that can be entered at the checkout at, say, Smashwords to get a free download of a digital book. Or, in more detail direct from the original blog:
“Step #1: Publish your book to electronic publishing, including Smashwords. Set up the book for free on a Smashwords code page. (There are other ways to do this, but this is basic and simple for the moment.)
Step #2: Have a plastic credit-card-sized gift card printed with your book cover on one side.
Step #3: On the back of the card print the free Smashwords code under a black scratch-off bar plus directions and other information.
Step #4: Either give the card away as a promotion at signings and such or put the card into a cardboard hanger with a price and sell to bookstores.”
This is a stunning idea. It caught my attention immediately because it instantly made me think of the days of book tokens.
I was a terrifically nerdy kid, naturally, and the best thing about my birthday was when my grandparents’ book token arrived (£10) and I could go spend an hour picking out books at WHSmith’s. It was still possible to get two brand new books for £10 in those balmy days and that was the height of excitement for me. Now, if I try to re-imagine that childhood pleasure in light of some of these new developments… imagine selecting one’s two books with painstaking care and then being given a gift card for a free book download at the checkout. My little heart would possibly have exploded with joy. Since I was so seriously nerdy I would probably have loved the thrill of downloading it myself onto my kiddie e-reader (charmingly decorated with My Little Pony, I have no doubt). It’s the sort of thing that makes a ten-year-old feel quite grown-up.
You could stuff them in libraries too (the gift-cards, not the nerdy children or the pink e-readers) and that would have the added advantage of allowing the recipient to download the book immediately. It’s a great way of melding e-reading with physical books, bookshops and libraries and giving people reasons to visit both online and high street stores. All of that could happen within the next year or two. Looking further ahead, of course…
“The new future of books is almost here. Books on gift cards.
But they won’t be called “gift cards.” They will be called “books.”
Electronic books in a physical product, for the same price, can now get into brick-and-mortar bookstores and make bookstores a great mark-up.
Customers can easily buy they, give them as gifts, even wrap them up as stocking-stuffers.
It is easy for any publisher of any size to do.
Gift Card Books take up less of the very expensive bookstore shelf room. You can get a hundred of these in the space of ten paperback books.”
An appealing idea. But what attracts me most to the notion at the moment is the ease of offering free e-books even to people who don’t habitually browse blogs, twitter or facebook or sign up for newsletters in order to hear about the downloads. There are people with e-readers who still love visiting libraries and bookshops (me, for one) and plenty who manage with e-readers but aren’t sufficiently internet-comfy to search up all the freebies. Perfect solution. And any dedicated reader brightens up at the words free book.
Here is the link to the original post at ‘Think Like a Publisher’.