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.