Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Unbridled Books 25cents deal

I've been reading about this interesting new promotion by one of my favorite publishers for a couple days. 25 books, 25cents each.  Sounds like a good deal, but truthfully, I've got a LOT to read and the idea of buying books just cause they're essentially free doesn't really get me to the buy button.

But I got an email from Unbridled tonight (of course I'm on their mailing list!) reminding me of this offer again, this time with a list of the indie stores that were part of the deal.

Here's the first paragraph:  
Dear Janet,

For the next three days -- June 9, 10 & 11 -- twenty-five of our favorite titles will be available in ebook form for 25c each, exclusively via independent bookstores who sell Google eBooks. You can find a list of these stores here...

Curiosity more than anything got me to click.

I landed on a page with a long list of stores, and it took me a moment to recognize they are organized by STATE first, and then store name (hint to people posting lists: use headers)

I scrolled down to the store that's nearest my office geographically, and one I haven't been to, thinking I'd use this opportunity to "meet the store" too.

Here's what I found.

Yea. Useless.  Clearly no one from the store, Unbridled, or Indiebound went through this list of stores and just clicked to make sure each link works, and gets you to a page that actually helps you find what you're looking for.

So, I clicked on the next store I know: McNally Jackson
I'm a long time customer of the store. I've been to dozens of events there, including ones for my authors. I love buying from McNally Jackson.

Except there's NOTHING on the front page that says "Unbridled Book deal" or even "buy Google Ebooks"

In other words, the page that launched me to that site was linking to a general site about the store, NOT a page about the offer.  And thus, useless.

So, I looked at the list again. And there's Greenlight Books.  I'm going there on Monday to hear Sara Gran talk about her new book.  So I clicked.

And there's how it's done. Front page of the website is EXACTLY the info I came here looking for.

And I bought 24 books.  All of them except the one I'd already read.

They download to my google home page, which means I had to give the store access to my google account.  Given it was Greenlight Books in Brooklyn, I was ok with that.  I'm pretty sure I would NOT have done it with a store I didn't feel like I knew.

And the books are right there on the screen. They look nice, the covers are beautiful, and the books are easy to read (by which I mean font size and style, not a comment about the content!)

But, they're not on my Kindle. And my Kindle is where I read my electronic books. I tend not to read on the computer cause I'm already reading a LOT of stuff here.  The backlighting hurts my eyes after awhile, and sitting at my desk with a computer is really not the same as lounging in my hammock with a physical book.

But, this is a promotion to get out from under Amazon, so why in the hell I thought I'd be downloading to my Kindle is beyond me. (Yes, customers can be stupid, even when they're not!)

So, what did I learn?

If you're directing people to a website for a promotion, work with the website owners to have those folks land on a specific page for that promotion OR put that promotion on the front page. Even if its just a "Looking for the Unbridled deal, click here" kind of thing.

TEST the links!

On a promotion like this it would have been great to have a button that said "buy all"  As it was I had to click a title, then click "back to shopping" then click a title. It took a while to buy all of them, and make sure I didn't duplicate or miss a title.  For 25cents a title, bookstores can't afford to do much template changing, but one rule of good selling is make it easy for people to buy more than they intended.  (thus the Amazon "add this book for only X, and VistaPrint's offer to increase your order quantity for X in the next ten minutes  etc)

Would I do this again? Probably not. I have a feeling those 24 books are going to sit unread on my virtual bookshelf for a long time. Unlike physical books, they're hidden from me as I wander around my Lair looking for something good to read on the subway. And I'd have to read them on the computer...something I'm not likely to do.

Did anyone else do this? What was your experience?


magolla said...

Nope, didn't try it, but I'll give you my middle grade stories for free. . .
Oh, damn!
You don't rep MG and fantasy isn't your thang.
Oh, well. . .

Lolo said...

My local indie bookstore posted the link, so I got to the offer without any issues. However, I had the same complaint, re: having to add one book at a time, and in the case of my bookstore, having to click back a couple of times to the original list rather than being given the option to "keep shopping," etc.

Like you, too, I read via Kindle (the app for iPad, though) and found myself a little dismayed by the odd formatting via Google Books. But I guess you get what you pay for, and it was still worth the $6 for such a wealth of titles.

Melissa said...

Oh, crap. Google Books? Something else I've not heard of? What is it? Obviously, these ebooks are not in Kindle format. So what format are they in, PDF? Or another entirely?

This is what makes me crazy about the "digital revolution." You know, I want one format and one type of e-reader (not necessarily made by the same manufacturer) that opens it, like a DVD or CD player.

pat said...

Thanks for the feedback. I'll check my link, but it's set up to take the customer to a store's front page. We can't change it. We also can't set up a "buy all" button. The ABA Indiecommerce websites are managed by ABA, and they are working on improvements, but it happens when there is demand from a number of stores. For this promo, it may be harder since the sales are also routed through Google. My answer is to allow customers to click buy buttons all they want, and then click on the cart to check out. I think the goal of this promo is to bring awareness that booksellers sell ebooks too. I like your points on what we need to do to compete with Amazon.

jesse said...

I still prefer physical books. eBooks are convenient, but they lack the personality, the weight, the smell, and feel that analogue offers.
I might change my attitude when AR takes off, and I can see my "on deck" pile of digital books sitting on my nightstand, and smell a faintly musty odor as I flip pages of an aged text.

Kristi said...

You can read them on Kindle with a bit of tweaking. Download Calibre and Google "convert Google ebook to Kindle". It might take a bit of time initially but it's doable!

On the iPad you can download the google ebooks app and read that way.

Cheryl said...

Besides using Calibre (which I *love* ) as Kristi said, you can also download the google eBooks app and read your books on your phone (Android or Apple), not just an iPad.

There's *always* a way to get your ebooks where you want them. ;)

David said...

Have you tried sending any of those books to your kindle address? Kindle reads HTML the best, and if you can get the books into that format, you are in business.

Janet Reid said...

I downloaded Calibre and while it looks nifty, I absolutely can not figure out how to download google books onto anything.

As far as I can tell, google ebooks can't be exported to a file on a computer.

If anyone can help us all out here, I'm listening!

Cheryl said...

This should help: and

Calibre will be your "ereader library management software."


ryan field said...

This is why I've been avoiding google e-books.

ryan field said...

I have a friend who swears by Dropbox. I've never used it, but I hear you can even send e-books as e-mails to your kindle. And it's free.

Janet Reid said...

Cheryl, I'm feeling pretty stupid here but I can't find the phrase "ereader library management software" on either of those pages.

CathrynLouis said...

Ouch... Prime example showing the diferent levels of 'savviness' when it comes to selling books in the digital world. Easy to see who 'gets it' and who doesn't. Even when they get it (as you've experienced), they are limited by the tools they are using - like the shopping cart. Looks like there's a long way to go before the book buying and reading experience - from print through the customer's digital preference - is seamless and easy.

Cheryl said...

Sent you an email with step by step instructions.

Hopefully it's not lost in your daily sea of queries. Subject line: Calibre and Google ebooks if you need to do a search for it.

mallard said...

For those who downloaded the books and want to read them on another device (and who might find this an issue in the future), try using Calibre. It's a great program that lets you convert from one format to another and then export the books to the device of your choice. I use it a lot to navigate the confusing array of ebook formats.

Elise M Stone said...

After reading your blog, I had to see how this worked for me. Kudos to both my participating indie bookstores (Antigone Books and Mostly Books in Tucson, AZ) for having the "badge" on the front page. You had to scroll down on the Antigone Books page to find it, but it was there.

I was much more impressed by Mostly Books ( . Not only was the Unbridled Books button prominently displayed, if you look just above and to the right, there's an option for "Ebooks - How to Set up" with instructions.

This, however, was not without issues. I have a nook and not long ago downloaded an ebook from the library just to try out how this worked. It requires Adobe Digital Editions, which is what the Mostly Books site told you to use, so I already had that loaded on my Mac. But I had to quit and reload Adobe DE after the download to get it to recognize my now-plugged-in-nook. I then was able to transfer the books I purchased.

On the Mostly Books site I was able to add multiple books to my cart before checking out. It looks like they have their act together.

All in all, it wasn't really painful, but it certainly wasn't as easy as buying a book directly from Barnes and Noble and just turning on the wifi on my nook to get it.