Thursday, May 26, 2011

Google Wallet and Commerce

Google announced the Google Wallet today and expects to roll out the service this summer. Google Wallet comes on the heels of the Square mobile credit card system and anticipates a wallet service Apple will announce this year.

While the Square service enables small merchants to swipe credit cards, Google has a vision based on existing point-of-sale terminals. The Google Wallet enables merchants to deploy coupon and loyalty programs either online or via in-store. Also, the checkout process can be streamlined so that coupons are presented automatically by an Android device and receipts transmitted back.

As one presenter at the Wallet announcement pointed out, the check-out process is the least exciting part of the retail experience. Presumably the entire check-out process with Wallet and similar technology could be reduced to a visual validation that the shopper had scanned everything going out the door.

Expect retailers to experiment with this technology first as they deploy it in their stores. Product companies will follow quickly with promotions heretofore unimaginable.

Like what?

Since I've been thinking about ebook marketing for my new book Delux, I realized there are great ebook marketing opportunities with this technology. For instance, suppose you write a book about pop music. With Wallet technology, you could place posters that concert-goers scan to buy your book. If it's an ebook, it would download automatically to their preferred eReader. If it's a physical book, you can direct them to the closest bookstore with a copy in stock.

Clearly the Google Wallet technology enables new marketing programs for ebooks, and everything else.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Replacing an Auto-Pay Credit Card

With the ongoing hacks into Sony and the recent employee security breach at Bank of America, you are more and more likely to have to replace a credit card.

When that credit card happens to be the credit card you use for auto-pay accounts (or automatic payments), it's a hassle. Prepare for a few hours of contacting merchants whom you auto-pay. If you're systematic in updating your auto-pay accounts with your new credit card information, you'll save time.

Here's a checklist for updating all your automatic payment accounts:

  • First, replace the compromised or lost credit card. Ask the credit card company to expedite a new card.
  • You can wait for your auto-pay accounts to fail and contact you, but it's better to contact your auto-pay accounts and provide your new credit card information.
  • Make a list of your auto-pays. Auto-pay accounts fall into three categories: 1) automatic monthly payments or automatic annual payments like rent, insurance, or memberships, 2) auto-pay accounts on websites like Amazon or Google that keep your credit card information to speed transactions, and 3) auto-pay for smartcard replenishment for services like transit and toll cards.
  • For your regular automatic monthly payments, scan recent credit card statements and you'll find those merchants quickly. Note website or phone information on your statement.
  • For other auto-pay accounts, check your email. If you keep online receipts, you can search for terms like "payment" or "credit card" and skim through the results.
  • Look through your wallet. If you have insurance cards or transit cards, those accounts may be tied to an auto-pay.
  • Once you have a list of all your auto-pay accounts, find any missing contact information. Again, email records are your friend. If you search for the merchant name, email from the merchant usually contains URL links and contact phone numbers.
  • Last, contact every merchant on your list and provide your new credit card information.
I made this list recently, and now I maintain it in a spreadsheet. I assume the frequency of credit card replacement is more likely to increase, so I'm ready the next time I have to replace my auto-pay credit card. Also, you can count on contacting your automatic payment accounts when your credit cards expires. Plan ahead!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The ePaperback

The new e-paperback is here. Barnes and Noble announced their new $139 Nook.
The new Nook is more compact than rivals and predecessors, with a 6-inch Pearl screen and no keyboard. The display's contrast is 50 percent better than the original Nook, the company said.
While the technology media focuses on the tablet market (some analysts had expected the new Nook to be a tablet product), book distributors like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Borders Group have sold large unit volumes of eReaders by keeping prices low. In the end, eReader devices are designed to suck up ebooks from online stores, not to run supercomputer calculations.

Here's what is similar between the eReader and tablet markets: differentiation through online services. The same way that tablet buyers need to evaluate Apple's and Google's respective app markets and online applications before buying an iPad or a Android tablet, eReader buyers should look at how Amazon, B&N and Borders sell you ebooks. The book distributors host their own online ebook stores with different DRM (Digital Rights Management) systems, pricing and selection.

The new Nook is slim on features, except the features you'd want while reading a book: great contrast, seven font sizes, six font types, and long (2 month!) battery life.

As book distributors learned from the success of the paperback book format: it's the price, stupid.

Last chance to buy the old Nook (prices reduced):

Barnes and Noble NOOK eBook Reader (WiFi only) [ Black & White ]

Monday, May 23, 2011

Backbite Book Promo

Adrienne Jones promoting a new book title on youtube. Expect many more online book promos as authors and publishers move to online sales.

The HoaxBackbite

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Even the New York Times

Even the New York Times Sunday Book Review section has an article about self-publishing.
Today, though, self-publication crackles with possibility as never before. Witness the March news that the thriller author Barry Eisler had backed out of a half-million-dollar deal with St. Martin’s Press, his new publisher. He’d decided that he could, over time, make more money publishing without their help.
Of course there are counter examples, but the economics of ebooks are pushing more authors, new and established, to the self-publishing route.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Blogger Labels

I set up a few blogs today.

I also learned about setting up blogs.

The main thing is, use "labels" in Blogger judiciously. There is a nice "Label" gadget that Blogger provides to help your viewers see a list of content organized around a particular label. On this blog, I've used something like 400 labels. Mistake. If you use Blogger, try limiting yourself to 20 or so.

I set up advertising and Amazon link on these blogs, too. That has got much easier since the last time I set up a blog on Blogger. The only problem I've run into is with Amazon contextual ads. They don't fit correctly in the Blogger gadgets. It appears to be a problem with Amazon's javascript code understanding the dynamic sizing of the Blogger gadget. I'm hoping that someone will fix that and make the ugly scroll bars disappear.

Each of these new blogs has a specific audience and is easy for me to maintain. Building web traffic is part of my one man media empire strategy.

Google Blogger For DummiesPublishing a Blog with Blogger: Visual QuickProject Guide (2nd Edition)Blogger: Beyond the Basics: Customize and promote your blog with original templates, analytics, advertising, and SEO (From Technologies to Solutions)

Monday, May 2, 2011

eBook Store Rankings

eBook authors are playing catch-up with game makers and musicians when it comes to online marketing. In bookstores, endcap placement drives book sales. In online stores, it's a rankings game.

CNET describes the games game publishers play to increase product rankings in Apple's App Store:
[T]he real heartbeat of it all, and where things still feel like the Wild West, is the realm of the top charts--the home, at any given time, of the hottest 300 free applications and the hottest 300 paid. Once on one of these lists, a good app can continue to make its way up, because a new--and large--group of users is now seeing it. That kind of power also makes these lists a big business target for those with the top in mind.
To increase rankings, some game publishers give away a game, then use Tapjoy or Flurry technology to promote downloads and convert free games download into sales. In response, Apple recently modified its rankings system. So the rankings game is played.

Rankings will be an important aspect of eBook marketing, too. Authors need to consider rankings in their marketing mix.

The best way to get high rankings? Write a good book.

Online stores are the best place to have high rankings. This review of top online eBook stores lists good target stores. High rankings at a few of these stores will yield great unit volume sales.

Besides writing a great book, here are other strategies to increase rankings:
  • Authors can spike a book's rankings by coordinating friends through social media to buy the book on the same day or same hour through a specific online store.
  • Advertising campaigns that focus traffic on a specific online store will increase rankings and, while campaign-related sales may not pay for the campaign itself, the residual increase in sales from higher rankings could pay off the campaign if high rankings persist.
  • Find rankings lists outside of stores, especially top-10 or top-100 lists for genres related to the book, and figure out how to increase the book's rankings on these lists.
  • To increase download rankings, authors can give away a few chapters of a book, and then provide a link to buy the rest of the book.
  • Adjust pricing down to move a book up a sales rankings list.
As the eBook market expands, more companies will provide these services, either for a fee or as part of an online publishing service. For now, authors have their emarketing homework cut out for them.