Open For Business

One of the main strands of my business plan for Wizard’s Tower has been the need to have an online store where you can buy ebooks. Not just our ebooks, but a wide selection of good quality speculative fiction. The more good books there are, the more likely people are to check us out and spend their money with us.

Of course we can’t compete with the likes of the Kindle and iBooks stores, but we are a specialist retailer. We’ll only be stocking SF&F. What’s more, because the big publishers are unlikely to be interested in us, at least in the short term, we’ll be stocking only books from small presses. Hopefully that will make it a lot easier to find the books you want on our site than in any of the big online stores.

It has taken me quite a while to find an online store system that does what I want, and provides the sort of professional shopping experience people are going to expect. Hopefully what I have now mostly does the job. I’ll be doing some more serious PR later in the week, but before then I’m hoping that a few of you folks will take a look and let me know if you have any issues with the store. I can’t promise to do everything you ask for, but feedback is good. You can find the store here.

One thing the store doesn’t do is allow me to set firm prices in other currencies. Hopefully that will come at some point. Also I’m hoping to offer payment methods other than PayPal, but such things cost money and I need business in order to justify the fees.

As of now, we have all of the issues of Salon Futura and Clarkesworld that have been converted available, plus of course Dark Spires. I don’t have the MOBI files for Salon Futura yet, but they should be available soon.

You will notice, when you visit the store, that each product also comes with a donation option. That’s deliberate policy. It is an idea I got from Bandcamp.com (thank you, Amanda Palmer, for the tip). We hear a lot these days about how people are not prepared to pay “too much” for ebooks. But the meaning of “too much” can vary wildly from person to person, dependent on your financial circumstances and how much you like the author in question. So I wanted to give people an opportunity to not pay “too little” either. Think of it as a tip jar. And if you don’t know whether you want to tip or not, you can always come back later and make a donation when you have read the book.

100% of any money received in donations will go to the creators concerned. Of course they may have to pay tax on the income, but we won’t take any of that money.

Talking of taxes, the business is currently below the turnover threshold at which UK companies are obliged to charge VAT. That’s a good thing, because while paper books are zero-rated for VAT, ebooks are regarded as “software” and attract a 17.5% tax (shortly rising to 20%). Much as I’d like the business to grow, I’d like to stay VAT-free as long as possible.

If anyone out there runs a small press, or is an independent author who has made ebooks of their out-of-print back catalog, and is interested in having us stock their books, please get in touch (info [at] wizardstowerpress [dot] com). We will be selective about what we stock, and in particular we will insist on well-made ebooks (though we can help you clean yours up) but I very much want to see the stock grow. Also I want to talk to prospective partners about contract terms to make sure we come up with a deal that people are happy with.

Anyway, please take a look, and feel free to ask questions here. Tomorrow I’ll talk a bit more about what we have on sale.

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5 Responses to Open For Business

  1. twilight2000 says:

    What a lovely note for Wizard’s Tower. A book shop is a lovely addition! I don’t currently have an e-reader (cost and my issues with “they can take it back or alter it” without my knowledge – and I can’t lend them like I can my paperbacks) – but the store is lovely!

    • Cheryl says:

      I hasten to point out that any ebooks you buy directly from us will be DRM free and cannot be taken back. You can lend them to friends if you want. I do intend to make the books available through the Kindle and iBooks stores too if I can, but I’m much happier selling direct.

      Also you don’t need an expensive device to read our ebooks. There is plenty of free software that allows you to read it on a PC. See here for details.

      • Errolwi says:

        Can I suggest mentioning your (very sensible!) DRM policy on say the ‘About Ebooks’ page, and expanding on it in the FAQs.

        Also, given that some stores don’t let you know about any geographic restrictions (I assume that you don’t have any) until very late in the purchasing process, perhaps a note about this in the FAQs also?

  2. Kendall says:

    Just bought Dark Spires in epub format and the shopping experience worked quite well. Also, PayPal’s improved–they told me exactly how much US$ it cost. So while you can’t set a firm price in other currencies, I’m happy that as a customer, I can see exactly how much it’ll cost me before I click that final payment button. (At that moment, with whatever fees PayPal charges me [?!], £3.99 was $6.50.)

    The only oddity I saw relates to autocomplete interacting oddly with your hidden-then-revealed fields, so this is not a complaint–just FYI. I let autocomplete fill out the form with my name/address and clicked submit, but a previously-hidden field, State, was not filled out. But that was no problema; it told me I was missing a field, I filled it in, and all was well.

    Having something to actually download for the donation was unexpected, and slightly amusing. 😉

    Anyway–congrats on the store! I look forward to seeing the line-up grow!

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