Ecommerce in Publishing: Kensington Books

When people think of buying books online, they often head straight to the big retailers like Barnes & Noble or Amazon. But another option is to go straight to the source and purchase books from the website of a publishing house like Kensington. The only problem is that their ecommerce might not be as optimized as it should… Let’s take a look.

On the website for Kensington Publishing, one obvious way to find the book you want is to click on the “Books” tab at the top of the page. This displays a long list of categories to help shoppers find a title in the right genre. This isn’t a bad idea at all, but this list could use some serious improvement. First of all, some of the categories don’t contain any titles. Just to name a couple, the World Wars category under the History heading, and the Mystery category under the African American heading are both empty. Second, the categories are just plain confusing. There are several biography categories under different headings. Why wouldn’t you just create a whole heading for Biographies? Also, there’s a Historical category in Fiction, but no Fiction category under History. These are only a couple examples of the weird organization going on here… I would suggest a big overhaul to this section to eliminate confusion for shoppers.

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When you select a category that actually contains some titles, you still come across a problem. There is no way to sort or filter the results. The books appear to be listed alphabetically by title, but there aren’t any other sorting options, for instance to sort by price or rating. If the category contains several pages of titles to click through, this could be a pretty frustrating shopping experience! My suggestion is to add at the very least a basic drop-down menu with some sorting options to help people sift through all the titles.

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Another shopping approach on the site is to browse by author and click on the “Authors” tab at the top. Of course when you do this, you’re bombarded with an enormous list of author’s names. Even if you know which name you’re looking for, this list can be overwhelming. I might instead format this page as a clickable alphabet organized by last name. When someone clicks on a letter, it would display the authors whose last names start with that letter. This may make things a bit more manageable.

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Another problem I have here is that the contact information is not easily available. Generally, there might be a “Contact” tab at the top of the page, but that doesn’t exist on this site. It’s buried in the “Advanced Search” page, in a menu on the right. Not very helpful… I would suggest adding a tab for the contact info to make it easier to find from any page on the site.

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At the end of the day, it’s true that publishers like Kensington can’t rival Amazon or Barnes & Noble in terms of sales. But if people are on their site and ready to make a purchase, then it should be as easy as possible for them to do just that. Optimize your site’s ecommerce with sorting and filtering options and simple navigation to take advantage of those potential sales.


Have you ever purchased a book from a publisher's website?


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