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Setting Up a Bookshop

How do you set up your own bookshop?
We have developed some guidelines below, and some more technical considerations that you can use to obtain cost estimates when dealing with developers.

Setting up your own bookshop - The options:
You have two choices -
1. Have a custom-made bookshop built
or
2. Use an existing package. Within this option, there are two choices:
- Proprietary software (a piece of software that has already been developed, will usually be installed for you, and should include continuing support)
- Open Source software (is available for free, but usually does not include support, nor installation)
Below is an outline of what is involved in the options above:
 
Custom Made Software:
You will need to hire a developer to build your software, and it can be as simple or as complicated as you wish, but it should include a CMS (content management system) and administration area so the bookshop can be populated with ebooks, and payments can be processed. You will also need to software to integrate with Paypal, or another online payment option. Alternatively you can offer bank transfer or cheque payment options. We have included more information about Paypal below.
Existing Packages:
1. Open source options
Two popular open source CMS are:
nopCommerce (taken directly from their website: http://www.nopcommerce.com) is an open source e-commerce solution that contains both a catalogue front-end and an administration tool backend. (Most existing packages do). It is powered by Microsoft's .NET framework (which means that you will require the help of an IT person who can code in Microsoft .Net)
ACS’s online bookshops www.acsebook.com and www.acsbookshop.com use nopCommerce to power their websites.
2. Drupal: Drupal (http://www.drupal.org) is an open source Content Management System which can be used with several different shopping carts. If you choose an open source software, you will need a shopping cart to with it, for example: http://www.litecommerce.com/ or Ubercart. It is advisble to hire a programmer to integrate the two. Althougn programmers aren’t really needed for these steps, they will ensure that the need to compromise with the packages features is kept to a minimum.

So how does it work once you have chosen a software option?

ACS will provide you with a URL for each book.

ACS will track each time the book is downloaded from the URL (website address). They will also check to ensure that it's not just the same computer downloading it again in the case of an initial failed download. The part of the URL highlighted in red will represent your code, it is important not to give these URLs out to anyone incase they decide to distribute it. You may also advise ACS that you want your code changed possibly every week or month to ensure that they won't be distributed without you knowing.

These URL’s need to be set up as the source download file for each ebook they refer to. This will need to be done by your chosen IT person. Here is an example of how this is set in nopCommerce with one of our ebooks:

More information on Paypal

Another equally important aspect in setting up a bookshop is to be able to provide the customers with purchasing methods they have confidence in. Paypal is the most widely used and one of the most trusted names in this area. It also allows for instant transactions with credit cards and in some cases may charge you less to make these transactions than a bank would. Another advantage is if you were using an existing package to build your bookshop, they would likely have paypal built directly into it so that the time taken to set it up will be minimal. In a situation where you are developing from the ground up, the developers will need to access the Paypal API through their code and possibly implement Instant Payment Notification to ensure that the bookshop can process book orders without any manual intervention.

Since texbooks aren’t huge purchases customers will be able to make a paypal payment using their credit card without having to log into an account.

Other online payment gateway services are available, however paypal is the current industry standard and it would be wise not to deviate from this until a new service becomes more popular. This is unlikely to happen any time soon.

Local methods such as cheque, bank transfer etc can also be used in these situations, but obviously the processing will be manual. However it can never hurt to also offer other methods.

Content (Filling your bookshop up with books)

To increase the chances of visitors to your bookshop it is vital that the book data is not simply copied from ACS but rather rewritten. This acquires better SEO and can actually strengthen all sites. If not done however, you will find that this will dilute all similar sites SEO. An option that can help would be to offer additional range of books. Whether it be your own or other ebooks that you are licensed to sell or even also paper books. However when paper books is involved it means that you will have to deal with something tangible, therefore it needs to be shipped and you will need to figure out whether you will use a shipping calculator or even just give people manual quotes. Essentially if all you are selling is digital products then technically the bookshop should be able to run on its own and much less manual work is required to keep it running. (It will need to be looked over by a human to make sure nothing is broken and everything is processing the way it should).

Samples: Book samples are important, you should be able to offer your customers a selection of sample pages for them to download from the books, obviously don’t offer them the whole book, don’t offer them only insignificant pages, rather offer them either a good average or the best pages possible without giving too much away.

How you report on sales
Every month (or other duration specified) ACS will send a report of how many times the books were downloaded, duplicate downloads made on the same computer/connection will be taken into account so you will not be double charged. However it will still be wise to check sales and cross reference with the report sent from ACS to ensure everything is going smoothly.

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