Optimized For Mobile: The Future of Bookselling

Ecommerce Mobilization for Book Sellers

If I was an actual fortune teller, I would not be in the book industry. I’d have a lucrative hustle delivering good (or bad) news to anyone who believed me. But there’s no need for a crystal ball when deciding where to sell your book this year. In 2020, bookselling took a sharp turn in one definitive direction: Mobile Commerce. It’s already the next “big thing” in bookselling and online commerce.

Safe to say it isn’t going anywhere. 

Mobile Phone stock image

Mobile Commerce is a natural progression of Ecommerce. If your reader wants to buy your book, making it easy to shop from their phone will increase your chances of a successful checkout. Most book platforms and websites are already optimized for Mobile; meaning the page looks one way on a laptop and another way on a device. No matter how the page appears, it should be easy for the user to navigate.

Making the process easy is a win-win for the buyer and seller. How many times have you read a review that points out flaws in the order and delivery process? As an author, you’re already in the vulnerable position of having your content possibly reviewed. Ensuring a smooth buying and fulfillment process will put you in the best position to earn 5 stars.

Reimagine Your Marketplace

Bookselling on the internet is still going strong, it’s a $250+ billion industry. With the launch of devices like the Kindle in the early 2000s, one might have predicted we would all be only reading on devices by this time. But as it turns out, print sales are still outselling ebooks.

The past 20 years have been a fun ride in the publishing industry. We watched as EL James’ Shades of Gray trilogy went from self-published startup to best-selling blockbuster in 2012. Big box chains like Borders faced bankruptcy while Indie Bookstores have survived on locally curated selections, customer service, and being the anti-mega chain. The popularity of audiobooks is on the rise, and the pandemic had more consumers shopping online than ever before. 

Your Book, Your Way

Sell books on your website with Lulu Direct.

Sell Your Book,
Your Way

Sell books on your own
website with Lulu Direct.

Let’s look at where it’s headed for bookselling. 

Enter the Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol references. (Sorry, the lit nerd in me could not be stopped.) 

The Ghost of Bookselling Past

Who doesn’t love a bookstore? The smell, good music… it’s almost like the oxygen inside made us smarter. An actual brick and mortar bookstore might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about how we used to buy books. But looking back to the origins of bookselling on the internet, marketplaces like Amazon, B&N online, and eBay were all the rage and allowed anyone to create a book (with print-on-demand), sell it online, reap the rewards, and rinse/repeat.

These marketplaces became more than simply a store to buy books. They also sold proprietary devices like the Kindle and Nook. This added to the value of buying ebooks from their platforms, keeping the access and purchases within their specific device. The shift to online markets blurred the lines between traditional and independent publishing. Bookselling became about having options as a writer when you couldn’t get a response from an established publisher.

The Ghost Of Bookselling Present

Fast forward past Amazon, B&N, and eBay, and let’s look at what’s happening with the Direct To Consumer (DTC) Bookselling model. Direct to consumer means you are the business owner collecting money for the book purchase, securing the fulfillment to the reader, and reaping a new set of rewards, ones benefiting your marketing strategy and bottom line. Thanks to platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, or maybe even a custom-built website, you can take advantage of easy-to-use tools to take out the middleman (Amazon and others) of bookselling.

Some benefits of Direct To Consumer bookselling include: 

  • You’ll make more money – Yep. No third party taking out a chunk of the pie.
  • You’ll know who buys your book – No longer will your reviewers just be “Bob from Akron, OH”, but as you are the collector of shipping information and payment processing, you’ll actually be able to know who is buying your book.
  • Marketing falls into place – Knowing your customers puts the you in a good position to target your audience for the next book in a series. Hello mailing list!
  • For Business owners – Are you selling a book based on your expertise? Do you need lead gen? Well, there ya go.

The Time Traveler Of Bookselling Future

You guessed it. Mobile.

In 2021, more than 53% of all commerce will be Mobile. Mobile, in this context, means that you are selling books to buyers using their phones or tablets for purchases. The way a website looks on a phone should not be the same way it looks on the laptop. It should be a seamless customer experience on mobile, complete with easy payment options and sharing. 

Mobile selling gives you all the benefits listed above with direct to consumer sales, plus the benefit of a seamless checkout experience from your readers’ phones and tablets. 

We are now at the point where the consumers rely on their smartphones and tablets for making most purchases. Smart booksellers need to understand the power in selling is knowing where and how consumers buy. If you are not jumping on the DTC mobile commerce  bandwagon for bookselling, it’s time to embrace it. 

Your Bookselling Tool Checklist For Mobile:

  • Payment Options – Does your website allow for credit cards, Apple Pay, or Paypal? Select as many options as it will allow, this gives your buyer flexibility.
  • Provide Information – Make the buying experience professional by including all the information your buyer needs. Details like shipping times, order number, FAQs, coupon code availability, an address verification step, and the “thank you for your order” message are all important.
  • Set Delivery Expectations – Ensure a positive delivery experience by letting your readers know it takes 3-6 business days to print and then ship. Since you’ll have their contact information, it might be a good idea to give them a digital version of the first chapter for free so they can get started.
  • Capture Customer Information – This will lead to future marketing opportunities. Be cautious not to seem overly aggressive. Nobody wants to provide their phone number, so if you ask for it, it should only be for problems that arise during delivery. Also allow your customers to opt-in (or out) of future communications.
  • Ask For Followers – Give your reader the chance to connect with you on social media by providing the links to your accounts. 
  • Kick The Tires! – Test it out, and then test again. It’s a great idea to ask another person to test it for you too; he or she might see something you didn’t. Test it on a variety of machines, most important a smartphone and tablet.

Bookselling can be hard. Knowing where and how your buyers want to buy your book will ensure greater success. It doesn’t solve the challenge of finding buyers (no worries; we have more tricks up our sleeve for that one!), but it will remove any barriers to buy.

Sarah G, Ecommerce Marketing Manager

Sarah is the Ecommerce Marketing Manager at Lulu. Her primary role is to educate and help those who would benefit from our direct-to-consumer tools. Sarah is passionate about helping authors and publishers find ways to connect with their audience. In previous roles, she led public relations campaigns for over 75 authors and coached many more in preparation for their book launches. When not in the office, you’ll likely find her in the bleachers at her boys’ baseball games or cheering on the UGA Bulldogs.

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