Hummingbird Digital Media is the latest company to try to develop a system that will allow booksellers and other companies the opportunity to sell e-books and digital audio directly to consumers. The company, a division of the wholesaler American West Books, has created a turnkey program that features both an app and customized storefront that will let consumers to browse through the titles available for sale and then purchase them from through the web-based storefront.
According to Hummingbird president Stephen Blake Mettee, a merchant’s customer registers on their first visit to the storefront and downloads the app, which has just been approved by Apple, from one of the app stores. Purchases are not made in the app, but when the customer finds a book or audio they want they can return to the storefront to make the purchase, Mettee explained.
The HDM platform will shortly enter the beta testing phase with the goal of going live by the fall. At present, HDM’s catalogue has more than 100,000 titles, including books from HarperCollins, Workman, Sourcebooks, and IPG. Mettee said he is in discussions with other major houses and hopes to get them on board soon.
Retailers who participate in HDM will receive 12% to 23% of the retail price of the e-book or audio. The exact amount depends on whether the book is available through the agency or wholesaler pricing model, Mettee said. There is no charge for retailers to sign up for the program; HBD splits the profits with the retailer on each sale. Mettee noted that while booksellers are a natural outlet for HDM he envisions, other retailers, nonprofit organizations, media outlets and even publishers using the program. Merchants who participate in the program will also receive the email addresses of customers and other analytics. Mettee hopes that within a year HDM’s merchant network will top 1,000.
Merchants interested in registering for the program can go to hummingbirdDM.com.