Ecommerce Offers Publishers a World of Options

November 1999
by Mary Westheimer

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When the Internet bandwagon really got rolling, publishers were quick to jump aboard. Although the
World Wide Web only arrived in 1993, more than three-quarters-78.4%-of publishers have sites today,
according to the recent BookZone survey of publishing Web sites. This survey was sent to nearly 9,000

The vast majority (76.5%) of the responding publishers with Web sites report that they use their
site for promotion, while nearly that many (73.7%) use their sites for sales. As the Internet-and
business owners’ understanding of it-matures, this ratio will very likely shift for publishers, who
stand to benefit from direct sales in a number of ways.

Direct online sales are so important, the term “ecommerce” has been coined. This term is used to
cover everything related to doing business online, but its foundation is fundamental good business:
(1) plan what you want to do, based on purpose, audience, and research; (2) create a presence with
components that help you achieve that purpose; and (3) measure results and adjust appropriately.

Plan, What Plan?
Surprisingly few people sit down and think through a Web site before they begin writing the copy
or designing the graphics. A good place to begin is understanding what you want to do with a site.
Sell books? Promote books? Gather information? Attract new authors? Provide an online media kit? Sell
other products and books? Send updates? Sell information? There is much, much more a site can do for
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