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REVIEW: Ebookstore Review: All Romance Ebooks

 

All Romance Ebooks

 

Angie W, Executive Editor of Samhain Publishing, brought a new ebookstore to our attention last week: All Romance Ebooks. All Romance Ebooks or “ARe” opened its doors on November 1, 2006, and while it took a while to get my attention I appreciate it didn’t go around and spam comment on all of our blogs like another ebook company did a couple of months ago.

This ecommerce site offers ebooks from all the major electronic publishers except for Ellora’s Cave. I started with its FAQ section and its suprisingly complete, even bringing up issues I hadn’t thought of such as whether they are selling our personal information to any third party (NO) or whether the “tell a friend” section is a way for them to harvest more emails (another NO). Here’s why I love this idea. As a consumer, I like to go to one place to buy all my books, particularly ebooks. I cannot remember all of the ebook publishers out there and bringing all the epublished romance books together in one location makes for easy browsing and even easier purchasing.

Publishers who are reselling through ARe:

Aphrodite Unlaced, BooksForABuck, Champagne, eXtasy, Freya’s Bower, Linden Bay Romance, Liquid Silver, loveyoudivine, Mardis Gras, Midnight Showcase, Phaze, Samhain, Siren, Uncial, Writer’s Exchange, Zumaya, and others.

***

Website layout – The home page features the covers of “What’s New” and “What’s Hot”. I figured out that “What’s New” referred to newly added, but I was unsure what “What’s Hot” meant. On the lower left side, there is a list of the “Top 10 Bestsellers” and the “Top 10 Highest Rated.”

According to the FAQ, bestselling status is calculated by the average sales per day for the past 30 days. The ratings are given by those who have purchased the book.

There are links to “Home”, “My Library”, “Discount Books”, “FAQ”, “Logout”, and “Cart”. You can browse by category (Vampire/Werewolf, Shapeshifter, Inspirational, Multiple Partners, and so on). Within the category pages, you can sort the list by Bestselling, Top Rated, Recently Added, and Word Count. You can also search by “Author”, “Title”, or “Publisher.” If you click on a title, you will also be given the option to look at all the books by that particular author. Some books have excerpts and some have reviews from review websites.

Rating- There is a 5 flame heat index with one flame representing books wherein love scenes either without consummation or without details of consummation. Five flames contain explicit love scenes using graphic and direct language and subject matter than some find objectionable. The “heat” index is on each page right under the word count.

Information about each book - Clicking on a book title will take you to a page which shows the book cover, author, link to other books by author, publisher, ISBN no., Word Count (on every book!!!), Heat Index, and format options. There are sometimes

* * *

  • Navigation – By category. Having chosen a category, you can browse by bestselling, top ranked, recently added, and word count. On a book page, you will have the option to browse that particular author’s other works. You can search by title, author, or publisher.
  • Excerpts – One page and dependent upon the book. Not all books have excerpts.
  • Reviews – None by book purchasers but book purchasers can rate the books.
  • Series -Not identified.
  • Wishlist – None.
  • Cart – After clicking on “Add to Cart”, a new page shows up showing your cart contents and suggesting additional books for purchase. You have the option to “Continue Shopping” or “Checkout Now”. The next page shows your billing information and requires you to enter your credit card number. When the purchase is complete, you are given a link to your library page where you have the option to download your book in whatever format the book was available in.
  • Bookshelf - Eternal bookshelf with the option to redownload your book, only in the format which you originally choose. In other words, you get one chance to determine what format you want and there is no going back.
  • Payments – Visa and Mastercard. NO Paypal.
  • Downloads – Immediate upon payment.
  • Confirmation – Email sent with details of purchase (book and price). There is no download link.
  • Account set up – Must register. The billing information is saved, but the credit card number is not.
  • Formats – Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Reader, and HTML. Some books also offer Mobipocket and Rocket.

* * *

While every commerce place has room for improvement, ARe is doing a lot of things right. It has a great discount program: buy 10 books and get 1 free. It has an “eternal library” meaning that you can redownload your books at anytime. You don’t have to wait for a confirmation email to download. The FAQ was very detailed and provided an answer to almost every question you could think of. I really appreciated the word count information on each page (versus no word count or some cutesy name disguising words count). I loved the ability to browse by word count as well.

Irks -No paypal. Can only download a book in one format. The category pages default to an alphabetical listing which I think is unfair. I would prefer the default listing be “bestsellling” or “top ranked” or even “recently added” versus the alphabetical listing.

Overall, if you are an epublishing reader, All Romance Ebooks is a great new service. There is definitely room for improvement and it’s catalog of offerings doesn’t appear to be a full complement from the publishers but it’s a good start and definitely a decent alternative to Fictionwise. I’ll be using it again.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

30 Comments

  1. Danielle
    Apr 22, 2007 @ 04:53:46

    I will have to check this web site out…I recently purchased the Librarian for my eReader and I think I can buy books now in HTTML format and then save them without any problems. I like the flame idea. I just checked out their web site and it does look user friendly.

    ReplyReply

  2. TeddyPig
    Apr 22, 2007 @ 07:21:37

    Jeez,

    Great idea but…

    Where is the author links in the book write up page… well hell where is the authors link on the main page for that matter?

    Here is a brilliant idea for getting all an eBook authors books in one place and they miss that little tool.

    How about series? They have forgot that some people might want to see the books in a series too.

    It may take some time but they have a good start.

    ReplyReply

  3. TeddyPig
    Apr 22, 2007 @ 07:24:17

    Plus I like pdf. I would love if some site oriented on like pdf only or html only.

    That type of thing would rock, you might lose a few but you would gain with the ease of use crowd.

    ReplyReply

  4. TeddyPig
    Apr 22, 2007 @ 07:30:48

    Oops, sorry my bad I found the “all book by” on the writeup page.

    Now that rocks. I will use this site more.

    ReplyReply

  5. TeddyPig
    Apr 22, 2007 @ 07:39:14

    I LOVE the idea of buying Torquere Press books without having to use the Torquere Press website. For that reason alone I will buy a few books from these guys.

    ReplyReply

  6. Emily
    Apr 22, 2007 @ 13:41:41

    I don’t think they can really be criticised for not using paypal as their content would not be allowed under paypal’s terms of service.

    ReplyReply

  7. TeddyPig
    Apr 23, 2007 @ 03:29:00

    Oh bull,

    Several websites use it with no problems.

    Fictionwise uses Paypal, EC uses Paypal.

    ReplyReply

  8. Jayne
    Apr 23, 2007 @ 05:52:57

    I always try to use paypal as well and know of several sites besides the ones Teddy Pig mentioned that still take it.

    ReplyReply

  9. Jane
    Apr 23, 2007 @ 06:37:49

    Emily, I’ve certainly heard that excuse before but as Teddy P and Jayne noted, several other sites take paypal such as Ellora’s Cave. I think the failure to have paypal as an option is a big deal and one that I hope ARe looks into.

    ReplyReply

  10. TeddyPig
    Apr 23, 2007 @ 06:49:55

    I think many people read the Mature Audiences Policy terms wrong…

    Most websites sell both printed and eBook format which puts them into the Physical Goods clause above the Digital Goods category…

    Notice where it reads…

    PayPal may consider some or all of the following factors:

    Literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

    ReplyReply

  11. Emily
    Apr 23, 2007 @ 08:34:15

    If you look into it you will also find other presses, distributors and writers who had their paypal accounts frozen, and often the accounts of their contributors and cusromers as well. It isn’t an excuse, it’s a matter of whether you are willing to take the risk of losing not only your money, but that if your writers and customers. It is easy to assume the company is just being lazy or stupid or that I am just making this up for some bizarre reason until you look at the damage Paypal did to Ebookad, Belhue Press, Whizbang etc and even the personal accounts of writers. I fully support companies like Amber Quill who choose not to gamble with everyone’s money by using paypal. Going bankrrupt because paypal freezes your account for month, that is a big deal.

    Those who have yet to recieve this message have simply been lucky, so far–the sale of erotic material through paypal is not allowed (real email from paypal attached–I hope you never end up receiving one yourself, but don’t count on it)

    ————————

    As you know, the PayPal User Agreement states that PayPal, at its sole discretion, reserves the right to close an account at any time for any reason. We are writing to inform you that, after a review of your site, and in accordance with PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy, your account has been closed.

    PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy prohibits the sale of items for mature audiences. After a review of your site/account, you have either received payments via PayPal, or have PayPal referenced on your site. Due to the violation of the Acceptable Use Policy your account will be closed and the remaining balance will be sent to you by check. Please be sure that your account information is accurate, as we cannot be held responsible for checks issued to an incorrect address. We do ask that you please remove reference(s) to PayPal from your site.

    If you feel that this decision was made in error and that you have not been accepting payments in the mature audience space, please contact us at paypal-compliance@paypal.com. This email is intended to be used only by merchants who feel this decision has been made in error, and not for accounts that are in violation. Accounts that have violated the mature audience policy will not be reinstated.

    For a better understanding of our Acceptable Use Policy, please view:
    http://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=p/gen/ua/use/index_frame-outside&ed=mature

    Sincerely,
    PayPal Compliance

    ReplyReply

  12. Emily
    Apr 23, 2007 @ 08:38:38

    Hi

    Are comments moderated now, mine don’t seem to appear?

    ReplyReply

  13. Emily
    Apr 23, 2007 @ 08:48:02

    Okay, working now. IMHO a big deal is having your account frozen for month and closed. After 2003 Paypal outlawed adult material, since them they have gone after Belhue Press, Ebookad and a score of individual erotic romance writers and artists. Those who continue just haven’t been caught yet.

    http://www.erecsite.com/2007/04/money-morality-and-internet.html

    Using paypal for erotica is gambling with your customers’ money.

    ReplyReply

  14. Emily
    Apr 23, 2007 @ 08:49:53

    http://www.erecsite.com/2007/04/money-morality-and-internet.html
    Paypal has not accepted erotica since 2003, they are just slow and arbitrary in who they close down, but talk to ebookad, Belhue Press and any one of a score of erotic romance writers and artists many of whom lost not only their accounts but their money. Using paypal with erotic content including normal romance is gambling with your customers money.

    ReplyReply

  15. Emily
    Apr 23, 2007 @ 08:50:53

    http://www.erecsite.com/2007/04/money-morality-and-internet.html
    Paypal has not accepted erotica since 2003, they will freeze accounts when the notice them (e.g. Belhue Press, ebookad)

    ReplyReply

  16. Emily
    Apr 23, 2007 @ 08:54:42

    Sorry I can seem to post comments, but in general if you want to know if this is a big deal ask Belhue Press and look into the effect paypal had on the closure of the distributor ebookad.com (i.e. the fatal blow)

    ReplyReply

  17. Emily
    Apr 23, 2007 @ 08:56:06

    Paypal was a large part of the closure ebookad. Look into it. Look at Amber Quill’s statements about paypal

    ReplyReply

  18. Teddy Pig
    Apr 23, 2007 @ 09:40:13

    Emily,

    I do not think those sites really checked closely what the terms actually say.

    Paypal does say about Digital Adult Media…

    Digital Goods
    PayPal prohibits transactions for all sexually oriented digital goods. Digital goods include downloaded pictures or videos, subscriptions to websites, or other content delivered through a digital medium.

    But look right above that in Physical Goods…

    PayPal may consider some or all of the following factors:

    Literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

    So seems to me that as long as you are also selling hard copy you fall into that what PayPal can “consider” deal.

    ReplyReply

  19. Katherine Kingston
    Apr 23, 2007 @ 09:40:41

    Ellora’s Cave takes Paypal as an option of last resort, but they discourage people from using it. As I understand it, Paypal does not play nicely with other shopping cart systems and creates major headaches for the customer service department people who have to deal with the problems it creates.

    ReplyReply

  20. Teddy Pig
    Apr 23, 2007 @ 09:42:22

    Samhain seems to have no problem with Paypal working for their site.

    EC just needs to fix their interface.

    ReplyReply

  21. Teddy Pig
    Apr 23, 2007 @ 09:43:39

    Why are my comments getting dropped?

    ReplyReply

  22. Teddy Pig
    Apr 23, 2007 @ 10:14:59

    Emily,

    Ebookad might not be the best example they seem to have had some legal problems.

    I think the point is that a hand full of companies had issues when they first started cracking down and yes I have read those anti-PayPal Rumor Mongering sites also.

    But… Seems to me there are a lot of valid eBook websites using Paypal successfully. Soooo.

    ReplyReply

  23. TeddyPig
    Apr 23, 2007 @ 21:06:22

    You know, I just read what Amber Quill and Loose-Id have stated about Paypal.

    I don’t know if I would put that on my site in all honesty without some type of statement directly from Paypal. But… that’s just me.

    ReplyReply

  24. TeddyPig
    Apr 24, 2007 @ 07:30:50

    “EC just needs to fix their interface.”

    If you notice EC’s PayPal problem occurs on the payment confirmation cycle.

    When you have completed paying for the item and are being sent back to the site for download.

    This is a failure on EC’s part to pick-up on the confirmation.

    ReplyReply

  25. Wayne Coribo
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 18:23:52

    More convenient for the consumer, I agree, but not as lucrative for the author. Authors get more royalty from purchases on the publisher website. It’s worth that extra bit of effort to buy where the author makes more money, I think. All Romance E books is owned by the ladies who own Linden Bay Romance.

    ReplyReply

  26. Shiloh Walker
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 19:02:12

    I like the layout of ARe but I do wish they’d take paypal. Sorry, but I’m more comfortable with paypal regarding security than just entering my information at random wherever.

    In regards to this…

    More convenient for the consumer, I agree, but not as lucrative for the author. Authors get more royalty from purchases on the publisher website. It's worth that extra bit of effort to buy where the author makes more money, I think. All Romance E books is owned by the ladies who own Linden Bay Romance.

    I’d think the convenience to the customer should weigh in a little more here, Wayne. While I love to think people want to make sure I get every last little penny I can, frankly, money is tight and if people want to use a site like ARe where they can save some money with the loyalty program, I’m all for it.

    ARe has a decent idea going with the points thing and saving money is something that’s going to appeal. But I hope they look into paypal. I’ve put off buying from them because of it.

    ReplyReply

  27. Wayne Coribo
    Mar 25, 2008 @ 07:49:47

    Convenience = good, yes I take your point Shiloh. Although on the internet, stores are only a click away from each other. And the percentage earned does drop dramatically for the author on distribution sites. I like the idea of a loyalty scheme, but in retailing in general it’s not the retailer who pays for the buy one/ten get one free, it’s the supplier. If you have a physical copy of a book then someone has to pay for that copy to be printed and bear the brunt of giving it away free. With e books, you can generate as many copies as you want with the click of a key, but they should still retain the value of a physical book or they have no value at all. I’ve often wondered how the loyalty scheme works. If someone buys ten books, do they get to pick any book on the site for their free one? And if it’s one of yours, do you provide that copy, does the publisher, or do ARe buy one from your publisher to give away? Every published book generated in electronic form would need to be accounted for. I’m not implying that isn’t happening, just curious as to how it works and who in the chain is actually bearing the cost of the free book. Same with the fifty copies given away free to the book club. I believe it’s important that we protect the value of e books and make sure each copy is treated as a book to the value of its cover price rather than a file you get at the click of a mouse.

    ReplyReply

  28. Shiloh Walker
    Mar 25, 2008 @ 08:02:34

    Convenience = good, yes I take your point Shiloh. Although on the internet, stores are only a click away from each other. And the percentage earned does drop dramatically for the author on distribution sites.

    True enough. However, if I have to buy ten things and I can find a site where I can buy ALL ten things at once or visit ten different sites? I’m buying from the site where I can get them all at once. Time is a precious a commodity as money and even buying on the internet does take time.

    ReplyReply

  29. Wayne Coribo
    Mar 25, 2008 @ 11:59:00

    Absolutely, if it works for you, go for it. We’re lucky to have the choice to shop online in the way that suits us best. I have been known to shop at Fictionwise for the very reasons you put forward. I like that Fictiowise is independently owned rather than affiliated to a publisher. At least I think it is.

    ReplyReply

  30. The Paypal Fiction Crackdown Roundup
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 14:18:52

    [...] seemed to be new ones that were announced everyday. When All Romance eBooks launched in 2007, it lacked the Paypal option. It would later add Paypal in October of 2007. Commenters informed us that Paypal had content [...]

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