Yup, even Stephen King needs to thing about how he's going to sell more of his books.
Although now he could probably call his publisher and have them do most of the work, somewhere along the line he had to think about a mailing list, a website and the tools needed for processing payments for all his sales.
Just like many other big-time authors, Stephen King has spoken out against Amazon. These authors often agree that making sales through your own website is the best way to retain revenue and brand yourself.
The same goes for bloggers, internet marketers, writers, other authors and anyone else looking to make money from books online.
We all know that you can make an eCommerce site with WordPress, but what about optimizing that store for books? That's why we want to focus on the best WordPress plugins and themes for selling eBooks and physical books.
Any WordPress site can technically host digital and physical goods by integrating with a plugin like WooCommerce, but we want your online bookstore to look, well, like a bookstore.
The Must-have Features for Book-selling Themes and Plugins
The first question is whether you're selling physical or digital books, or both. If you're peddling physical items, the WooCommerce plugin is required. We also like WooCommerce for stores with both physical and digital books, whereas Easy Digital Downloads delivers a simple and intuitive option for only digital eBooks.
Therefore, you must decide which eCommerce plugin you prefer before selecting a WordPress theme. We'll outline a few other plugins below that serve as alternatives to WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads.
As for must-have features, here's what we recommend:
- Support for processing credit cards and other payments.
- Buttons and links to other platforms like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
- High-resolution cover images.
- Options for book previews.
- Social media sharing buttons.
- An area for an author biography.
- A module for testimonials.
- An area for on-site book reviews.
- Spots for descriptions, genres, ISBNs and other important information.
WordPress Plugins for Selling Books
As discussed a bit in the introduction, WooCommerce isn't generally utilized as a book-selling platform by itself. WooCommerce activates an online store for you, but you're going to have to find a WordPress theme (we recommend several below) that are built for WooCommerce. That said, WooCommerce is my favorite choice for selling physical books online.
Easy Digital Download (EDD) is similar to WooCommerce in that you'll want to find a WordPress theme that presents your books in a reasonable format. EDD has the payment processing, shopping cart and other digital eCommerce tools, while a theme will make it all look pretty. In comparison to WooCommerce, EDD is far superior when selling eBooks and other digital content.
The Posts Table Pro WordPress table plugin lists any type of WordPress content in a table, including eBooks. You can create an eBook library by adding your books as a custom post type. You can also create a fully featured eBook store by using it with an e-commerce plugin such as Easy Digital Downloads or WooCommerce.
The plugin authors at Barn2 Media have published an in-depth tutorial about how to use Posts Table Pro as a WordPress eBook plugin. This includes full setup instructions, including how to use it with other plugins to achieve different requirements.
The MyBookTable plugin is an interesting one for a few reasons. First of all, you don't have to seek out a pre-designed theme for your bookstore. In addition, plugins like WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads are not required.
I recommend MyBookTable for those who want to sell eBooks or physical books on their current WordPress theme, since it activates beautiful book product pages and links to third-party sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This way, at least people are coming to your site first (then buying from the marketplaces). Unfortunately you still don't retain all of your book revenue since you're sending them away from your personal site.
The eBook store plugin integrates with WooCommerce by taking its payment processing tools and setting up your store to display books as products. The interface is clean and basic, but you can customize depending on your current theme.
This is yet another plugin that works wonders when you don't want to go out and get a new WordPress theme. You can also process book sales through PayPal, and present your books with 3D previews and automated email delivery.
Although I only suggest this plugin to folks who want the simplest of bookstores, the WooCommerce Bookstore plugin does a solid job of presenting a showcase of your books, integrating with other themes and providing an advanced book search form. It's ideal for developers, since there's not much included with the design out of the box, and lots of actions and hooks are there for customizing the plugin.
Thoughts on WordPress Plugins for Selling Books
Here's the deal: If you opt for WooCommerce or EDD, you'll be able to find hundreds of bookstore themes that are made just for those plugins. Options like the WooCommerce Bookstore Plugin go fine with all themes, but not many of those themes are developed as bookstores just for that plugin.
WordPress Themes for Selling eBooks and Physical Books
The Bookshop theme is sold by WooThemes, making it extremely compatible with WooCommerce. It launches a classy, filterable bookstore, and you can create collections such as modern fiction, education and science fiction.
Author Pro Theme
The Author Pro theme is all about selling your eBooks and books in a modern way. This is a child theme for the Genesis Framework, and it comes with the Genesis Author Pro Plugin for making a complete book library.
Aurum is a minimalist shopping theme that works with WooCommerce, but you'll have to select the Bookstore demo in order to make it look nice for selling books. We like the theme when setting up a marketplace with multiple authors. For example, a brick and mortar bookstore might consider Aurum.
Book Store is a responsive, WooCommerce theme with a slider module for showing off your featured books. Show off the authors on your page, and give out previews so your buyers can figure out which items they would like to purchase.
FlatBook has a beautiful look for bloggers and internet marketers interested in selling eBooks. It works as a landing page, with large Purchase buttons and a stunning cover image. Quite a few demos and colors are included with your purchase, and the live customizer offers an unlimited number of layouts.
The Brown theme has multi-page and single-page layouts, making it perfect for an individual author. The developer doesn't claim a direct integration with EDD or WooCommerce, but you shouldn't have any problem making an eCommerce site with either. Other than that, we like the large book product pages, the attention-grabbing call to actions and how simple it is to feature the author and collect email addresses.
Complete with WooCommerce support, mega menus, large sliders and a responsive interface, the Raakbookoo WordPress theme can be used for both digital and physical book sales. It's a more playful design, and the theme provides featured book sliders, testimonials and a search bar for finding authors and books.
Should You Grab One of These Book-selling Themes or Plugins?
Overall, I suggest that all authors, writers and booksellers decide whether they'd like to sell eBooks or physical books. That helps you land on the right eCommerce plugin. After that, you're open to select whichever WordPress theme you think fits your brand.
If you have any questions about the best WordPress plugins and themes for selling eBooks and physical books, let us know in the comments section below.