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Monday, August 16, 2010

The Realities of Micropayments and Digital Distribution

As someone who's been trying to figure out the wonderful world of e-commerce lately, I have to say that it's not for the weak-hearted.

I've been looking around for a while now, trying to figure out the best way to bring my e-book experiment to the masses but still make some sort of profit.

The cheapest I've found so far -- that processes the transactions and allows for instant, secure downloads of my book -- is combination of Payloadz.com and Paypal (or Google Checkout... pretty much the same bum-molesting in the end though).

Both Paypal and Google extol the virtues of their 'competitive' transaction rates -- 30 cents + 2.9% -- but when what you're selling is $1 or less... well, you can see the, er, problem.

Paypal's made some headway here in that they've created a 'micropayment' option... but then made it completely unavailable to anyone living in Canada. For this service they charge 5 cents + 5% per transaction, a saintly figure, to be sure (when compared to their regular rates) but then they go and muck it up by locking us out.

Not that they're alone in this. Amazon Payments had my attention too... until I was pretty much made aware that, unless my country joined the union, I was SOL.

Right now I'm sort of between a rock and a hard place here, I don't want to charge extra for my chapters (I think 99 cents is fair), especially knowing that that extra 30 cents I'm charging will just go right to Paypal. As it stands, for every 99 cents I bring in, I'll basically see 69 of them.

Basically, all this to say that -- yeah, I totally get now why people don't bother with micropayments. The infrastructure to do it properly, for a decent cost, just doesn't appear to exist right now.

Anyways, I've decided to eat the cost of it, it sucks, but I'll just chalk it up to the cost of swimming in the big pond... for now.

That said, I'm entirely open to suggestions and other options.

In the meantime, I've also decided to add a small Tipjar on my site in the form of a 'donate' button on the top corner of my page there. If you're digging my story, or my blog, and you think it deserves a little more, well, then by all means buy me a coffee... or a bagel.

And thank you, kindly.



Stephanie said...

Hey Brandon!

I think this is really cool, and a great way to cut out the middle man, keeping as much profit for the artist as possible. Curious, do they take 30 cents + that percentage for every transaction, or per dollar? Because I'd be interested in maybe pre-buying a package of chapters, so that you don't lose out on 30 cents every chapter (if indeed it's per transaction). Or if 100% of the profit sounds better, I'll slide you a nice twenty at the next inkdrinks. ;)


Brandon Laraby said...

Thanks Steph! This is a great idea -- maybe I'll put up something where people, if they're interested, can buy into the whole thing at once and just have the chapters emailed to them before they go live.

Give people some sort of extra incentive... :D