Transcript of the live chat session that took place Thursday, October 1, 1998. These sessions are normally scheduled for 12 noon-1 PM Eastern Time every Thursday. Please note that the US is now on Standard Time. So in international terms, we are on at GMT -5 instead of GMT -4.
These sessions are hosted by Richard Seltzer. If you would like to receive email reminders of our chat sessions, simply send a blank email message to email@example.com or go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/businessonthewebchats and sign up there.
For transcripts of previous sessions and a list of future topics, click here .
For an article on how to make "business chat" work (based on this experience), click here .
Since the chat itself happens at a rapid pace, it's often difficult to note interesting facts in particular URLs as they appear on-line. Here's a place to take a more leisurely look. I've rearranged some of the pieces to try to capture the various threads of discussion (which sometimes get lost in the rush of live chat).
Please send email with your follow-on questions and comments, and suggestions for topics we should focus on in future sessions. So long as the volume of email responses is manageable, I'll post the most pertinent ones here for all to see.
Bob Zwick -- Hello, Bob here,
an independent consultant in the Dallas Texas area. Interested in business
and education on the internet. DE-Chat (moderator) Tue 12:00 to 1:00pm
Richard Seltzer -- All -- as you connect, please introduce yourselves and let us know your interests. I'm particularly interested in talking about on-line publishing, especially by non-publishing companies. I'd like to find out what companies are doing it well and how they get their content, and how they get their traffic, and what business benefits they derive from their on-line publishing.
Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, erc. Please introduce yourself and let us know your interests.
Anne Pemberton -- Hmmm I guess I don't have the hang of this yet two msg disappeared...
Richard Seltzer -- Anne -- You might want to set your refresh time to 0. I suspect that the screen suddenly refreshed on you while you were trying to type a message.
Anne Pemberton -- trying a third time: Hello from Virginia. interest in web is education and newly, commerce... I'm interested in helping local businesses do business on the web...
TheCornerStore -- Hello Richard, I own The Corner Store, we have been doing on-line business since 1992, we sell NT software.
Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, TheCornerStore. Is the software you sell downloadable over the Web? Do you publish content at your site to attract traffic? If so, how do you get/generate your content, and does it really attract traffic?
Bob Zwick -- CornerStore - I notice you use a hard copy order form. Is there a reason you don't offer click and buy or a shopping cart ?
Scott Gregory -- Greetings! I'm Scott Gregory, publisher of Bookhome Publishing.
dee linton -- i'm new to publishing, learning as i go. i'm interested in having a web page that supports my customers and generates some income.
Bob Zwick -- Attendance was small.
Richard Seltzer -- Bob -- I just did an AltaVista search for url:www.cottagemicro.com/education to see if your transcripts have all been indexed. I see just 13 matches. You might want to do an "Add a Page" for the missing ones.
Bob Zwick -- Richard, I have added all pages up to last week. I did however add about 20 pages at one time. Would that keep them from being indexed ?
Richard Seltzer -- Bob -- there should be no problem about adding 20 or more pages to the index in a single day. but perhaps there was some glitch. In any case, it wouldn't hurt to submit again. You have lots of good content, and the better it's indexed, the more likely you'll attract interested visitors.
Bob Zwick -- Thank you Richard. I'll check and re-add as a general practice from now on.
Richard Seltzer -- Bob -- another suggestion -- you use the same HTML title for each and every transcript, which could lead to confusion when folks view a list of them in their search results. "Distance education on the Internet" is great, but maybe adding a word or two after that to indicate the focus of that particular discussion might help.
dee linton -- publishing is new, not a money maker, yet. we have four titles coming out ... two local history, one poetry, one self-help/health. customers, direct sales and local book stores. local being northern california
Richard Seltzer -- dee linton -- Sounds tough. Are you independently wealthy? Are these books that you wrote yourself? Do you have some incredibly hot title that is likely to draw many people in your direction?
Richard Seltzer -- dee -- do you have a Web site yet? if so, how do you attract traffic? and do you have any special relationships with particular stores?
Richard Seltzer -- dee -- if you don't yet have a Web site, you might consider getting together with one or more local stores that have Web sites already and that carry your books. You might offer them interesting content for their sites, rather than building your own site separately. With a startup, you probably don't have a lot of time/effort to spare, and that might be more likely to generate revenue in the short term.
dee linton -- we are setting up our web site, after several false starts. thanks for the idea! i'll check out store tie-ins!
Richard Seltzer -- dee -- Also, consider the benefit of using the Web simply to build the visibility/reputation of new writers. That's what I do for myself at my own site -- where I have the complete text of a number of books of my. Take a look. (e.g., try my fable/fantasy The Lizard of Oz at http://www.samizdat.com#lizard
Scott Gregory -- We publish nonfiction--business, lifestyles, travel, relationships. We use our website to sell books and gain publicity, but we are exploring ways to publish on the Internet was well as traditional publishing.
Richard Seltzer -- Scott -- would your publishing on the Internet be "for a fee" or free? I've heard (anecdotally) that publishing the full text of a book for free on the Web can boost sales of a traditional book by about 30%. For business, travel, relationships etc., I'd think that there must be thousands of related Web sites you might want to partner with (at least link with). Do you have a systematic effort of that kind under way?
Scott Gregory -- We're still exploring our options as far as publishing on the Internet. We are getting mixed messages--some traditional publishers say putting info on the Net helps; some say it hurts traditional sales. We are trying to figure out the best ways to use the Internet to sell our books (directly, and by driving people to stroes), as well as how to turn the information we already have and can generate into publishing on the web. Whether that's by selling advertising, or by developing some sort of subscription--we're not sure!
Bob Zwick -- As for publishing complete text, I like the idea of a serial model that posts a chapter a week with a "Buy It Now !" button each week. With the previous chapter removed each week and then started again at the end of the book.
Richard Seltzer -- Scott -- Take a look at my book, The Social Web, at http://www.samizdat.com/#social There's lots of advice there for trying to do what you want to do, at very low cost, trying to take advantage of the unique nature of the Internet environment.
Scott Gregory -- I'll do that. We'd like to strike a balance between using the Web to sell our books and using the web as a publishing medium. We just want to figure out what will make money for us now, and position ourselves properly as the technology and Web habits evolve.
Richard Seltzer -- Bob -- Sounds like an excellent idea. That would go naturally with distance ed, making it easier for entrepreneurs to offer classes and related materials. How does that work? Does your customer (the person taking the orders) have to have a merchant credit card account? Or do you act as the middleman?
Bob Zwick -- The details are still in the works, but basically an entrepreneur lists their product (class, book, etc.) and I place an order form on my site. They only pay a % of any sales, no minimums. I can also offer stocking and physical distribution as well as electronic distribution.
Richard Seltzer -- Bob -- If the transactions go through your merchant account, I'd suspect that your biggest risk might be if the person offering the course or goods doesn't follow through or doesn't fully satisfy the end customer. Then charge-backs could cost you a lot of hassle. Have you figured out a way around that?
Bob Zwick -- Richard, the merchant account and verification responsibility is all assumed by Digital River.
Bob Zwick -- Richard, of course it will be up to me to establish an entrepreneur's credibility.
Richard Seltzer -- Bob -- I'd wonder if there was some simple way you could get an associates program going -- to encourage people to link to your site. or if not associates, then some way to link together the various education-related entrepreneurs who might use your services -- something like if you buy from one, you get some benefit/discount when you buy from another... sort "frequent course" points...
Bob Zwick -- Richard - There is an associate model in place that allows reciprocal links and business.
Richard Seltzer -- Bob -- I'll have to take a look to see how you are doing that. Sounds very interesting. Is that all from your home page of http://www.cottagemicro.com ?
Bob Zwick -- Richard, this is a new project and not live yet. I'll keep you informed of the process.
Richard Seltzer -- Bob -- yes, please keep me posted.
Scott Gregory -- We have found that many of our website visitors, after visiting us, have purchased our books through Amazon.com rather than our own site. Goes back to feeling comfortable with the name, I guess. We also are exploring the associates program with Amazon.
Richard Seltzer -- Bob -- I'm an Amazon associate, which means that when people click from my Web pages to them, I get a referral fee (as much as 15% of the sale price if it was a link for that specific book; much less if they just go to Amazon from my site and ramble around and then buy.) I'm also in the Amazon Advantage program, which is designed for small press publishers. They have half a dozen copies of each of my titles on consignment, and hence can offer 24-hour delivery. I get about $50-$70 a quarter from the Associates and maybe $50 a quarter from the Advantage. This is no way to get rich, but it's a great service.
Bob Zwick -- Richard - it's found money.
Richard Seltzer -- Scott -- don't just explore with Amazon. Go ahead and do it. It typically takes just 24 hours from filling out their form. Take a look at my site for an example of using it. I have a list of every book I've read for the last 40 years, also lists of my favorite recent fiction. For instance, check http://www.samizdat.com/readbest.html
Scott Gregory -- Richard--has your setup with Amazon been profitable?
Richard Seltzer -- Scott -- the Amazon associates program costs me nothing, just a little time to make links from pages on which I already listed and discussed favorite books of mine. I don't get much money from it, but as Bob said "It's found money." for a publisher, it's also handy that by word of mouth or in advertising to say that "you can buy it at Amazon" -- that's easier for folks to remember than your own URL, and their search mechanism is very effective.
Richard Seltzer -- My main motivation for wanting to talk about the on-line publishing strategies of non-publishers comes from my trying to sort out what would be best for Compaq to do. Today, they have free on-line magazines, like Clip and Marketspace, and they also have a password-protected information service called activeAnswers, for which they charge a subscription fee. I'd like to get a better sense of what other companies are doing and how and why.
Richard Seltzer -- The trickiest part of on-line publishing by non-publishers is getting to the business benefit. What is it? How do you measure it? How do you determine if the benefit is greater than the costs? Of course, if the whole point is on-line sales transactions, the calculation could be easy. But, often, the desired benefit is more intangible -- and probably more significant -- like customer retention or loyalty or satisfaction or building long-term business relationships.
Richard Seltzer -- I'm surprised that no one has anything to say about non-transaction/sale business benefits from on-line publishing. My gut feel is that building relationships, customer retention, customer loyalty are far more important that on-line sales, and that on-line publishing is an important part of that.
Scott Gregory -- I agree that building relationships is vital online. But I think many small businesses want to show some sort of profit out of the net if they are going to invest a lot of time in it. Small operations can only spend their time in so many places, and it's often hard to throw a ton of time at something that pays off in a customer-service way, but might be at the expense of what might be profitable elsewhere. It's one way to give great customer service, but ...
Scott Gregory -- I read a great analysis recently that stated that you have to separate big-business activities on the web with small-business activities. One, like Amazon.com, is in a dogfight for long-term market share. We, on the other hand, are looking for ways for the web to pay off in a much shorter timeframe.
Richard Seltzer -- Scott -- you're right. that's an important distinction. large companies can afford to invest in customer retention, etc. but small companies need immediate revenue simply to survive.
Richard Seltzer -- All -- before you signoff, please post your email and URL addresses (don't count on the software to have captured it.
dee linton -- we are setting up our web site, after several false starts. super! it's been useful to stop in today!
Bob Zwick -- All - enjoyed
it. See you next week.
Stop in the Distance Ed Chat this Tuesday 12-1pm CDT
http://www.cottagemicro.com/education/ to discuss Education on the Internet.
Richard Seltzer -- All, thanks very much for joining us today. Hope you can make it next week. In the meantime, please send me email with your followup questions and comments. firstname.lastname@example.org
Previous transcripts and schedule of upcoming chats -- www.samizdat.com/chat.html
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