In no particular order, the following is a list that I would like to see all epublishers/etailers implement.
- Eternal Bookshelf. An eternal bookshelf means that every purchase you have bought can be downloaded at any time. Most of the larger etailers have this feature but not all.
- Mass Downloads. Along with the eternal bookshelf should be the ability to re-download all of your books. This is necessary in the case of a computer crash or some other computer related malfuction. Fictionwise is the only etailer/epublisher I know of that offers this.
- Buy a book for a friend. The only site that offers this feature is Fictionwise. Amazon does not even offer this for Kindle which makes no sense. When a reader wants to buy a book for a friend, she wants to buy a specific book. She doesn’t want to send a generic gift certificate and hope her friend uses it for said book. I was quite shocked when I went to buy Kristan Higgins’ Just One of the Guys for a couple of friends of mine who had a Kindle and found that there was no option to do such a thing. It would seem perfectly suited to the Kindle’s internet connectivity to allow people to purchase books for others that would magically appear on the Kindle. Wouldn’t it? Harlequin also doesn’t have this feature. Ditto for Samhain Publishing or BooksonBoard, the other epublishers/etailers I visit.
- Paypal. I think every online merchant should allow consumers to pay via paypal. I find this particularly comforting if I am buying from a new vendor whose reputation I don’t really trust. I know that they’ll have very little information about me and that’s how I would like it to be. Additionally, paying with paypal is often so much easier because I need not fill in a dozen fields along with a credit card number that I don’t recall off the top of my head.
- Keep Credit Card information. If a merchant is not going to allow me to pay via paypal then I want them to keep my credit card information on file. Note, that I won’t be giving that to places I don’t feel comfortable trusting with that information but for those that I do, I want that to be an option. Amazon does a good job of allowing customers to keep several credit cards online. Other sites, like Fictionwise or Harlequin do not.
- Gift certificates. Not all sites have the ability to buy a gift certificate, let alone a specific book. Harlequin is a big culprit. Samhain has this weird system of buying a certain amount of credits or something. I tried doing this once and ended up buying credits for myself, not for another person. Sometimes I feel like etailers/epublishers are actively trying to curb my spending habits.
- Wishlist. BooksonBoard and Fictionwise both have a “wishlist” feature. This means a person can browse and place books that she might be interested in a temporary cart. The key is that this temporary cart is always available when you log in. This way you can mark the books you are interested in without committing, but it also helps to remind you of purchases you once thought might be interesting.
- Wide availability. Some epublishers don’t make its books available to all etailers. I find it frustrating to have to buy books from several different online venues. I know I buy less books from places like Ellora’s Cave and Loose ID because I can’t buy them from Fictionwise or BooksonBoard.
- Multiple formats. All books should be sold in all formats at the same time. I have no small irritation with those books that are available in only one format on one site and still another on another site. I.e., why doesn’t Harlequin offer ereader format at its site, but you can buy the same books in ereader at Fictionwise. Or some books are offered in Amazon’s Kindle format earlier than others. I am finding that with Simon & Schuster releases. It is very frustrating.
- No DRM. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is for going forward. Wal-mart just announced that it was discontinuing its servers storing DRM’ed music. It sent out a press release saying that customers better download their music now and burn it to a CD because the music will no longer be available on its servers and no tech support will be offered. In another example of why DRM is bad, one need only look to the recent iPhone App debacle by Spore. Spore was a game put out by EA Sports, a very popular one. It came with draconian DRM and in the space of days, a cracked version was leaked onto the net and over a half a million people turned to the cracked one instead of downloading a legitimate one crippled by DRM. EA relented and released a patched version with less constraints.
How about you commenters? Like something that a particular epublisher/etailer does for readers? Got a suggestion?