It’s quite typical to start a small business in a garage. It’s less common to start one in a penthouse office-suite in downtown Manhatten. But it is genuinely unique to start one in a garage and then grow it to the colossus which is Amazon. Yet there were always the right marketing genes in the DNA of the nascent online empire we know today.

Jeff Bezos began selling books, virtual books, which he didn’t actually own. His only help was family members. At the start, he arranged for books sent out to have an autographed bookmark thanking the purchaser and wishing them a good read. This signature was not printed; it was actually signed, in ink. I know this to be so since I was a very early adopter of the Amazon system. To this day, I have a small collection of these bookmarks.

Books in Spain at that time were costly; even today, they are not cheap. Not unreasonably, they were also in Spanish, a language which I didn’t speak at the time. Further, the sparse range of English titles was unlikely to be about this new Internet thing which was then taking the tech world by storm. If you wanted Don Quijote, the local bookshop might well help you out. If you wanted the latest online material by post, you went to Amazon. Postage was high. Books were air-shipped to Spain from the USA, but Amazon’s purchase price couldn’t be bettered. It balanced out and, if you were prepared to pay FedEx, it was incredibly fast. I could get a response from Amazon quicker than a snail-mail from the local town hall. In fact, come to think of it, I still can.

I’m well aware these, ‘I was there when…’ stories cut little ice – such as ‘I had a brother-in-law who went to school with Margaret Thatcher’ (also true), but in Amazon’s case, following the company’s growth, I picked some handy tips. Once Bezos’ company got really started online, it soon became the website to emulate. Its efficiency and user-friendly design was a veritable design beacon to others. If you wanted to see what an excellent online sales website looked like, there was no better place than Amazon.

There then followed a whole string of ground-breaking features, like one-click purchase buttons, copied and used to significant effect by so many other selling websites today. Get clients to add their data once and then re-use it automatically every time they made a purchase. Finding what you wanted was fast, buying it was even quicker, and you could get next day delivery to your front door if you needed it. The products were good, the prices were right, and the delivery was exceptional. They could have been selling fridges to Eskimos, it didn’t matter, with an ethos like that, it couldn’t fail. And, of course, it didn’t. Like Topsy, it just grew and grew.

Which brings us, when it comes to book sales, to another of the Amazon killer-features – the look inside. The ability to read a chapter or two before buying was a masterstroke. Let’s return for a moment to the off-line world, the local bookshop. You’re in there browsing the books. Mostly you’ve come to the section which most interests you. A title catches your eye, and you take it down from the shelf. You look at the front cover, then turn it over and glance at the stuff on the back. From there, you might browse the table of contents, and finally, you’ll flip the book open and read a couple of paragraphs. That is the staircase to the heaven of a book sale.

Your buyer needs to pass, one step at a time, through the process before they decide and carry your book to the checkout. Amazon does all of that. They give you categories to search, book covers to view, synopsis to read and almost always the ability to read a few pages and the chapters list. Meanwhile, there’s that one-click button hovering over there on the right, eager to take your order.

If you want to sell your book, on your website, with anything like the success of Amazon, you must offer the same features. Today these are not luxury add-ons; they are essentials. PdePages will be glad to help you every step of the way. Odd though it may seem, I’m not after your money. But I do need your help; I need you to do the things I’m not good at, like social media. Equally links between our websites costs no money and little effort, and we both get to take another step towards getting known.

There’s no commitment, no strings and no payment either way whatsoever. The day that our deal no longer works for you, just let me know. I’ll be sad to see you go but, as we all know, circumstances change and we must all change with them. If you’re interested, want more details, or you are just plain nosey, then check out the links below and get in touch.

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