Selling eBooks on Shopify: The Most In-Depth Guide

We Design & Develop Shopify Websites for Ebooks

Connect with your audience and bring books to life with a customized Shopify website.

Selling ebooks on Shopify isn’t as simple as uploading a product image and a link.

We’ll go through the steps necessary to sell an ebook on Shopify along with a basic tutorial on selling more once you’ve already started.

Why Sell Ebooks on Shopify in the First Place?

Selling products on your own website is hard.

Selling books on your own website is extremely hard.

But the upside is huge – selling on Amazon can cost authors more than 5 times the amount they could’ve made selling on the Shopify platform – or WordPress for that matter.

Large fees aren’t the only thing hampering merchants that are selling books online. 

You’re limited by the platform itself.

In direct opposition to that, a website gives you complete control.

Complete control over income, revenue, and costs.

You can even sell content or courses on Shopify as single purchases or even subscriptions.

There’s also way less competition in a sense – you don’t need to be competing for visitors eyeballs if they’re already on your page.

You just need to convince them your book(s) are worth reading. 

Alternatives to Selling Ebooks on Shopify

If you’d like to sell ebooks online, your options aren’t restricted solely to Shopify (although plenty of book merchants decide to use it as their primary platform for selling books online)

You can sell books on AbeBooks.com, Amazon, Alibris.com, or even Ebay.

These platforms aren’t the same, and they won’t provide the same experience for book sellers.

For AbeBooks, you’ll usually have a seller-friendly experience but it’ll come with large fees.

With Amazon, you’ll have to compete and play a penny-to-penny discount game to win over the competition – Amazon is notorious for large fees as well.

Ebay as a selling platform minimizes time waste for book sellers.

They do this by minimizing the steps you need to take to get from product to sales.

Joanna Penn has a definitive guide on why to sell direct to the reader, you can read it here: https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2020/03/20/sell-direct-get-paid-now/

There are pros and cons to all of them, but we think Shopify is the prime place to be for booksellers. 

That’s not to say Shopify doesn’t have it’s own problems, we’re about to get to them.

The Obstacles of Selling eBooks on Shopify

For self-published content, there’s no larger operation to get your product in front of readers.

For publishers,  it means alot of marketing dollars going to waste.

If your website traffic isn’t buying, then it’s a complete time suck.

Although, as long as your website can get people to the right books and convince them, you’re golden.

If that is done right – it translates to less costly returns, less friction in the buying experience, and more sales for you.

All in all, it’s a win when you can get the right product in front of the customer. (they’re happy, you’re happy!)

Books can sell themselves, as soon as readers give them a look – but what can you do if you’re selling books online?

So, let’s get to learning how to sell ebooks on Shopify (or even selling normal books on Shopify) through the 2022-2023 business year.

Basics of Selling eBooks on Shopify

just a disclaimer, but to sell ebooks on Shopify you need to legally own the rights to the ebook(s) you’re selling.

 Anyway…

If you’re selling a regular book on Shopify, you can usually use the default setup.

You need to still follow the checklist every other e-commerce business follows to get online, but you can do it in the traditional manner (highly oversimplified).

  1. Design & Develop Website 
  2. Upload Product Information (via Shopify admin dashboard)
  3. Set any desired settings/configurations (also in the Shopify admin dashboard)
  4. Send traffic to website
  5. Optimize website for traffic and scale your book business (or ebook business)

However, if you want to sell eBooks on Shopify, you’ll need to use a Shopify app.

Shopify isn’t naturally setup to work with digital products.

Shopify merchants that want to sell any digital product are required to do the same.

This is one situation where an app comes into play for your store.

The Shopify team offer their own Digital Downloads app to help sellers get started selling ebooks on Shopify.

There are alternatives to Shopify’s app, like SendOwl or Sky Pilot ‑ Digital Downloads. 

Design & Developing Your Book Website

How do you go about designing your Shopify website?

Shopify provides themes so users don’t have to spend as much time designing their website – instead, they can spend all their time focused on bringing in sales.

Although, Shopify allows you to customize themes by adding text, buttons, and images (there’s more you can customize).

You can usually customize your theme in the embedded theme editor (in the Shopify admin dashboard) or directly edit the underlying Liquid, HTML, and CSS code.

If you’re going to customize your theme code, it’s typically a good idea to create a backup so you can always restore if you ever make an irrecoverable mistake.

Or you can create a backup to keep track of versions of your theme.

Whatever path you choose to customize your theme, remember to always make changes when there’s a reason – changing your website just because you feel like it is nice, but it doesn’t always mean you’ll get more sales.

Get a High Quality Shopify WebsiteLet’s Talk: 718-415-2830

Upload Product/Ebook/Book Information 

Once your Shopify website has been designed and developed, you can start uploading those ebooks/books.

 From the Shopify admin dashboard homepage, navigate to the products tab on the left hand side.

Press add product, and you can expect to see some inputs show up.

You can fill out the title and description – they’re both in the same section.

Adding product images is simple.

Press add file on the media section (under the title and description section) then select the file(s) in your operating system’s file chooser prompt and wait for the file(s) to upload.

You’ll notice there’s a field for pricing.

 How do you go about pricing the books you’ve got in stock?

One way to go about it is to search AbeBooks (using their advanced search) 

Another useful way to research book pricing is by using AddAll.

Their website lets you search and compare 100,000+ online book stores.

That means you’ll be able to see what other stores are selling books for online.

If you want to just sell new books, then you might find less value in AddAll compared to AbeBooks.

There’s a lot of fine tuning you can play with to find the range of prices consumers are finding acceptable.

Set any desired settings/configuration

Setting the your legal business name is one of the first steps in action for selling books on Shopify.

Next, you should add billing, currency, and payment provider information.

Then, configure taxes, default weight units (for your Shopify store’s listings) and change your shipping settings if necessary.

Send traffic to website

Getting customers on your website is a whole industry.

It’s digital marketing and we’ll try to introduce you to the basics of it.

You can get customers on your website by using multiple methods, here are some:

  1. SEO & Content Marketing
  2. PPC (pay per click)
  3. Social media advertising
  4. Email marketing

SEO & content marketing

focuses on using search engines to bring in traffic.

This article is a piece of content marketing (and search engine optimization)

We’ve targeted specific keywords and produced content that might help potential users of our Shopify apps (like ProductVibes).

Doing the same, you can bring in traffic to your website and ebook products.

PPC is paying to get a sponsored search engine listing.

It’s an entire arena of marketing that experts can debate on forever, but it might well be worth your time.

Social media advertising is the use of platforms like Tiktok, Instagram, and Twitter to promote your website, ebooks/books, and engage with potential customers.

Selling books on Tiktok isn’t as hard as it might seem, but there are techniques that can definitely help you sell books on the platform.

Tips to sell more ebooks/books on Shopify using Tiktok

  1. Take time to post consistently – not showing up on the platform is a big no no – especially for large accounts. 
  2. Spend 10% (or some other generic percentage) of the time promoting. The point being, your audience will get bored hearing you promote your books 24/7 and all the time. 
  3. Go with the trends – use the popular sounds going viral, use the popular templates going viral. Anything popular on Tiktok often carries alot of weight.

Social media like Reddit offer unique opportunities for booksellers to engage with audiences and sell more ebooks/books.

Promoting books on Reddit can work out fantastically for selling more books – if you play it right. 

Reddit’s demographic and tone differs from other social media so it might be worth it to spend some time researching the right approach.

Here’s a few tidbits for selling more ebooks online using Reddit.

  1. Identify your target readers (by finding the subreddits they’d be in)
  2. Look up the rules (using reddit in a traditional manner isn’t looked well upon; instead, take a look at your target subreddit rules before making any noise)
  3. Spend some time consuming their content (if you don’t know what they’re thinking, how can you convince them they’d like your books?)
  4. Note the times of activity. A subreddit might be more active towards certain times – but it might not be best to post at those times for certain content. Take some time to really feel the atmosphere of each of these subreddits to get a real idea of how to approach your promotion strategy.
  5. Casually mentioning a book in a comment (in reply to other “redditors”) is fine, but posting consistently about the same book won’t be well received. If you want to post, make sure it’ll entertain or make someone laugh – redditors don’t want to be sold to (at least not explicitly) – that’s why their on the platform to begin with. By understanding the nuance, you’ll be able to develop an effective promotional strategy with goodwill.

Email marketing can bring in customers that have signed up to your newsletter or blog.

It’s all about emailing when customers want to hear from you and emailing them good stuff.

If it checks off both boxes, you’re good to go with email marketing as a potential channel to bring in customers or even increase customer spending.

So, let’s say you’ve already gone through steps 1-4 but you’re now stuck with an important question.

How to help my customers find the books they really want and get more sales in the process?

Get a High Quality Shopify WebsiteLet’s Talk: 718-415-2830

Optimizing Website Traffic for Ebook Products – Sell More Books on Shopify and Help More Readers Out

Now you’ve got traffic coming to your ebooks, but your not selling as much as you want to.
There are plenty of reasons for that. 

  1. Have you tested your website’s performance? 

Customers aren’t willing to spend a lot of time waiting for a website that performs poorly.

Modern consumers are looking for experiences that offer convenience and accessibility.

  1. What about your website’s design?

Maybe your website is poorly designed, and customers just don’t get it.

Imagine if a customer came into a brick and mortar location of yours – only to discover your books were on shelves full of spider webs.

Or, maybe the navigation isn’t setup in a user friendly way.

if a customer can’t find the types of books they like, they can’t exactly checkout.

That’s not going to go well, is it? 

  1. Is your website mobile-friendly? Does it offer features that help make customers minds up?

 User experience (UX) is really important when dealing with any ecommerce business.

When you sell books on Shopify, user experience takes a whole new role.

When customers go to the bookstore, they’re getting an experience.

They’re exploring, smelling, and going through books to find the right one for them.

How can they do that when they can’t even press a button on their phone?

How can they checkout if they don’t even know what the book is about? Descriptions help, but customers don’t just read the cover of a book.

They go through it to get an idea of the writing style.They go through it to get an idea of the book.

Providing customers with the information they need is essential to get them to checkout and purchase your ebook or regular book.

The study of selling more is an entire industry and we won’t try to summarize it all in one blog post (especially this one)

 but, it’s important to remember – as long as you’re getting traffic (the right traffic) there are ways to get more sales.

If you’re interested in learning more about the eBook industry, sign up for our newsletter solely dedicated to helping you sell more ebooks on your website.

You can read more of our guides on our blog page.

We Design & Develop Shopify Websites for Ebooks

Connect with your audience and bring books to life with a customized Shopify website.