Creating an ecommerce website to sell and deliver ebooks to Kindle / Nook devices ?

One of my clients has asked me to find out what it would take to build an ecommerce website for him that's intended to sell ebooks, and to have the purchases delivered directly to ereader devices (ie: Kindle / Nook, etc.)  

Although I have plenty of experience with building ecommerce sites, .. including ones that sell non-tangible goods (ie: software downloads, etc) .. it's unclear as to how I'd go about delivering the ebooks directly to specific e-reader devices.

For example -- I often purchase ebooks through Amazon .. and upon doing so, I'm prompted to pick whether I'd like to have the ebook delivered to my IPhone or IPad.  If I choose to have the book delivered to my IPad -- the next time I launch the Kindle app on my IPad -- the ebook that I recently purchased then automatically downloads, and is available for me to read.

So -- how is all of this done??  I don't even know how Amazon knows that I own an IPhone and and IPad -- at least -- I don't remember ever having to configure of my Amazon Account with this information.  Or is this actually a necessary step that I simply forgot about?

Is there some off-the-shelf ecommerce product that we can install that enables or simplifies all of this ... either paid or free/open source?  I have a lot of experience with Wordpress based website development -- and would love to be able to work with that platform if possible.  But still - I'm open to all possibilities.

Lastly -- I was trying to explain to my client that there really isn't such a thing as "DRM" when it comes to ebooks .. that they're just files that can be downloaded, copied, and shared with others ... as long as you know how to extract them from your ereader device (ie: by hooking your IPad up to your PC and loading up ITunes, etc).  Am I mistaken about this, however?  Is there really such a thing as DRM for ebooks??

Anyways .. any useful information regarding this would be greatly appreciated.

- Yvan
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egoselfaxisAuthor Commented:
Are there any takers?

- yg
Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:

If your client did a little research he'd find that you cannot setup 3rd party websites to sell eBooks which will autoload onto Kindle/Nook etc.

You can create (.epub for Nook/.mobi for Kindle) books and manually add them to certain eReader devices once you download them to your PC.  With Amazon you can also email the .mobi file to your Kindle account to add it to the device but this only applies to Kindle devices as far as I am aware.

To sell and download directly the eBook needs to be sold via Amazon or B&N.  When you add the Kindle app to your iPad, iPhone etc. you have to enter your account details and that is how amazon knows how many devices you have registered and can target the book to go to a specific device. Otherwise you get the book onto the device by copying it from PC to the device usually with a USB cable.

There are some websites such as SmashWords ( & LuLu ( which can sell eBooks in a wide range of formats and have links to Amazon, B&N etc.  They explain also how to add eBooks purchased from 3rd party websites onto the eReaders like a Kindle.

You are partially correct about eBooks having limited DRM which can be fairly easily removed by a technically-savvy user.  If you buy eBooks directly from Amazon and download to the Kindle they are NOT visible in iTunes or the Download folder on the device and cannot be easily copied from the device and shared with others.  Manually added eBooks however have no such protection and can be instantly copied from the device.
Also if you install the Kindle application on OSX or Windows it will download the files to your computer that are on the Kindle device anyway so there is no real protection that is 100% foolproof.

I'd suggest that your client re-evaluate their idea.  They can sell eBooks on their own website but users will have to manually upload the files to their devices.  Otherwise he can use SmashWords or Lulu or other websites to do the publishing & sales and loose a % of the sales but gain quick access to Amazon, B&N etc.  Finally he can publish directly on Amazon & B&N websites with a bit of effort (there are lots of websites explaining how to self-publish with all the major eBook websites) .
egoselfaxisAuthor Commented:
Thank you for your response Eoin!  

My client is intent on not having to rely on either Amazon or B&N to facilitate his project.  He wants to "roll his own", so to speak.  In your opinion, .. do you think this is a huge and impossible undertaking?  Or would we just have to leave out the DRM component?

I ask because -- if we were to build something custom -- I was thinking that we could set something up where the customers would have to first configure their account settings with what  devices they have, and what their specific email addresses are, etc).  Thereafter, it would work just like it does with Amazon -- where you would first choose your preferred device from a dropdown and then click on a buy now button to have the book delivered directly to your selected ereader device.

( Does it work the same with B&N?  In other words -- do Nook devices and/or apps have specific email addresses associated with them? )

Lastly -- is the DRM that's applied device and/or format specific? (Amazon uses one kind of DRM, while B&N uses another?)   Or is the DRM component something that has to be handled and applied by the ebook publisher?  In other words .. is the applying of the DRM part of the ebook creation/publishing process .. or part of the ebook delivery process?

- Yvan
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egoselfaxisAuthor Commented:
Mic check .. one two ... check check ...

(Is this thing on?)
Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:
Yvan -

"In your opinion, .. do you think this is a huge and impossible undertaking?"
It is huge but not impossible

"Or would we just have to leave out the DRM component?"
Applying your own DRM is costly for a stand-alone publisher and not 100% foolproof.  Amazon, B&N etc. have their own DRM which you cannot replicate unless you publish with them.  You might want to consider applying a unique watermark  in some format to each eBook so you could identify the source of duplicates/copies as a sort of protection.

"where you would first choose your preferred device from a dropdown and then click on a buy now button to have the book delivered directly to your selected ereader device"
With the Amazon email service you cannot select a specific device .. you simply email the eBook to your Amazon account and you then have to manually download the book to the relevant device afterwards so it is not a one step process.
This explains were to get you unique Kindle email address

"Does it work the same with B&N?  In other words -- do Nook devices and/or apps have specific email addresses associated with them?"
I believe that B&N has a similar service .. but I've not used it.

"Or is the DRM component something that has to be handled and applied by the ebook publisher"
Yes, the eBook distributors Amazon, Apple, B&N etc apply their own DRM at point of distribution.  If publishing through them you supply an un-protected file in the appropriate format and they will apply their own DRM.

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Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:
Here's a web-based shopping cart product that has digital delivery and support for eBook sales

I'd assume that there are a couple of others out there too but have not used 3rd party Shopping Carts for selling eBooks so cannot recommend any.
egoselfaxisAuthor Commented:
Thank Eoin!  

- Yvan
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