A post by Shannon of the DuoLit team from earlier this year rings true, especially during the busy last-minute holiday shopping season. In the post–which got a surprisingly low number of critics in the comments section–the writer points to the need for authors to only advertise two retailers for their ebooks and one retailer–Amazon–for their print editions.
The writer points to the phenomenon of “analysis paralysis,” whereby too many choices can result in a pattern of indecision that leads to refusal to make the purchase. The post even sites a widely referenced study by Sheena Iyengar that studied this behavior and its consumer consequences when faced with too many product choices.
But as critics pointed out, having the choice to buy one book from several different retail platforms is not the same thing as having too many choices in the toilet paper aisle (which, as it turns out, consumers tend NOT to avoid buying, possibly out of sheer necessity). Additionally, in the realm of e-reading where so many consumers have platform-specific devices or store their credit card and gift cards in accounts related to specific retailers, not having enough buying options for readers is the same as cutting them off from the book.
According to the post, authors should make their books available everywhere–assuming they are not registered in the KDP Select exclusive program–but should only strongly advertise via their social media channels and their own websites that the books are available at Amazon, due to its massive reach of readers, and Smashwords, due to its compatibility with nearly every device platform.
While this did not raise nearly as much ire from commenters as you might expect, one thing that authors do need to keep in mind is the far easier and less inflammatory generic statement, “Available everywhere ebooks are sold.” That key phrase can minimize both the confusion that comes from having to select a retailer for purchase, as well as cut down on the confusion of sending the inadvertent message that the book is only available in two locations. Linked-through buy buttons to the specific retailers were also suggested by readers, as were third party sites that help consumers locate their specific international markets.
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