You have a low to medium need for e-commerce. However, e-commerce could be of great benefit to your business and it could help you to grow your business and trade more efficiently with the increasing number of e-commerce capable distributors.

Booksellers are very lucky in being offered a number of free e-commerce services so you can benefit from e-commerce provided that you have the basic infrastructure required (a PC, browser software, modem and telephone line or broadband connection with ADSL modem). You can register with the free services below and decide which is right for your business. Please note that at present no single company provides a complete solution for e-commerce for all sizes and types of book business so you will need to consider a combination of services.

e-commerce servicesMain FunctionCommentsPrice
PubEasySearch products and order on major affiliates see listCentral services enables sending a file of orders for routing to correct affiliate. About PubEasyFree
Nielsen BookNet WebOnline TeleOrderingOnline bibliographic search service included in price of BookWise CD-ROM etc. TeleOrdering sends orders to all publishersIncluded in TeleOrdering subscription otherwise c. £500 invoices and authorise payments made via direct debitOnline version of Booksellers Clearing House (BCH) You can only pay invoices from Batch distributors More about BatchFree ISBNs to returnNew service now with over 300 retailers registered and six major distributors live, others in development. More about Batch ReturnsFree

It is important to understand the differences between these services as they have different strengths and weaknesses. This chart may help you to decide which service best suits your needs:

FunctionsNielsen BookNet PaymentsBatch ReturnsComments
Order on all UK distributors (via TeleOrdering)YESNONONOIf you need to access all UK publishers/distributors and wholesalers use Nielsen BookNet Web
Order on listed distributorsN/AYESNONOIf you need to access only the major distributors plus Gardners and Bertrams use PubEasy
AcknowledgementsYESYESYESNOAsk the service providers which distributors provide Order Acknowledgements
Delivery NotesYESYESYESNOIf EDNs are important to your business ask the service providers which distributors can supply these via these services
Chase DuesYESYESNONOPubEasy currently has more distributors able to offer this facility than NBN Web
Bibliographic search on all UK publishersYESYESNONOA basic search facility on Bowker’s Books in Print database is now available on PubEasy. Nielsen BookData’s database is available online via NBN Web but this is an extra subscription service (free if you already subscribe to Nielsen BookData e.g. CD-ROM)
Bibliographic search on listed publishersN/AYESNONOPubEasy has developed useful search facilities on the data available from their distributors
Pay InvoicesNONOYESNOBatch offers invoice payment, statements, remittance advices etc.
Returns RequestsNOYESNOYESBatch Returns offers returns capability with many of the major distributors. PubEasy offers returns requests via Batch.

To do e-commerce properly you need to cover the following areas for as many trading partners as possible: orders, invoices and returns. You should consider using one or other of the following options:

Option 1: PubEasy + Batch + Batch Returns

Ideal for small to medium general booksellers. These services are free to booksellers.

Option 2: Nielsen BookNet Web+ Batch + Batch Returns

This would suit a medium-sized and more specialist independent bookseller who needs to order from a wider range of distributors. Note that Nielsen BookNet Web is a chargeable service (about £500 per annum).


  1. If you mostly use wholesalers, first check your wholesaler’s web site and IVR (Interactive Voice Response/Recognition via the telephone) service. For more details contact your wholesalers: or These services are usually free if you are a customer of these wholesalers.
  2. The key to successfully implementing e-commerce and deriving maximum benefits from your investment is to integrate your e-commerce with your host systems so that re-keying of data is minimised. Always ask the e-commerce service provider how you could integrate his service to your system. (Don’t accept the answer: “Our service can integrate with your system”. Make sure they service really DOES integrate and ask about how and who is already doing so.)
  3. Always talk to your systems supplier and your key trading partners early on in your research into e-commerce.
  4. Ideally before investing in a new system you should consider how capable that system is at e-commerce. For example there is little point having a great system but one which cannot talk to your trading partners efficiently.
  5. Pricing may be subject to change and so should be confirmed with the service provider concerned.

When you’ve digested all the information in this section and you feel that you want to talk to one of the e-commerce service providers, their contact details are below:

E-commerce service BookNetPubEasy
Telephone020 7802 08020870 777 871001304 852177