The purpose of product standards is to offer our customers the best possible products to make their shopping experiences comfortable so they will want to return frequently and buy more products from the companies that sell through OneBookShelf. These standards are not attempting to control the content of any products, but to set specifics for presentation which will be to the benefit of publishers, customers, and OneBookShelf.
The quality of products, from all publishers, is the key component of the quality of the store. If customers purchase products which are disappointing to them, then eventually (whether after one purchase or several) they will stop shopping at OneBookShelf sites. The best way to avoid this is for publishers to put together high-quality products and then offer accurate and detailed information about them, to enable customers to find what they want and make informed purchasing decisions.
There are three main components to the presentation of any product:
- The cover
- The product description
- The product preview.
A customer's first impression about a product on any of the OneBookShelf sites usually comes from a thumbnail of the cover image.
These appear on the front page of the site when a product is new and in various contexts throughout the life of the product. Ideally, a product should be able to be clearly recognized even when its cover is seen merely as a thumbnail. Therefore, the cover of any product needs to both represent the product well and be appropriate for display to the general public.
The 'cover' of an electronic product is somewhat of a misnomer. In fact, the 'cover' graphic is not necessarily present in the product at all! The cover, as displayed on the OneBookShelf sites, might be the graphic that is actually used on the cover of a print version of a text product, or it might be a graphic prepared to resemble such a cover even though no print version is done. Some short products might simply showcase the title on the first page of text and use that as a 'cover.' A publisher with a compilation of artwork might make a 'cover' by adding the title to a single piece of artwork, or make a collage of several pieces to indicate some of what is included in the product. The publisher of an audio product might put together a colorful graphic for the sole purpose of presenting the product's title anywhere the 'cover' thumbnail needs to appear.
In preparing cover images, publishers should strive for a professional appearance. This does not mean that all artwork or graphics must be prepared by someone who is a professional artist. However, publishers should keep in mind that product covers represent their business to the public, and should strive to have those covers represent them in the best way possible. This may include (but is not limited to) using art which is well done, having a legible product title, showing a distinctive logo for the company or product line, and arranging all these elements in a pleasing fashion. The overall effect should be to attract customers' eyes, and give them confidence that the product will be high quality.
Caveat: "Adult" Setting
Because the OneBookShelf sales sites attract customers of a wide variety of ages and backgrounds, not all products will be suitable for all customers at all times. Customers may be shopping from computers in public areas, or the customers themselves may be young people. In these (and possibly other) cases, certain products with mature themes are inappropriate.
OneBookShelf has provided an "Adult" filter which will block that material from the view of any customers who do not opt-in for mature content. Publishers have the responsibility to mark their products as "Adult" when appropriate, using the check box near the bottom of the product entry/editing form.
One issue that has arisen with regard to graphics on product covers is the depiction of the human form, and what is within the boundaries of good taste. Opinions vary from person to person and from region to region in the world. In order to be clear, OneBookShelf will use the following 'universal' standard:
On any product cover or other graphic that might be seen on the front page of the sites, any human figure (or semi-human or humanoid figure, in the case of fantasy or science fiction products) will be covered at least to the extent of the Miss Universe or Mr. Universe candidates in the linked photos. If necessary, the coverage maybe by text or some other graphical element. This does not apply to graphics which appear solely on product description pages or in a product preview. However, any product which does not include that amount of coverage throughout its presentation on OneBookShelf sites should be protected by the "Adult" label, so that customers who wish can opt out of even inadvertent viewing of the material.
Any product which does not meet the 'universal' standard mentioned above, for all material on OneBookShelf sites (including cover, product preview, and any other graphics that may appear in the product description) should be designated as an Adult product.
In addition, products are generally considered mature (and should use the Adult setting) if they include nudity, graphic sexual material, depictions of gore, or crude language. Obviously this is an area in which publishers must use their judgment. Keep in mind that the purpose of the Adult designation is to benefit customers, not restrict the choices of publishers. Allowing customers to filter content - or not, as they choose - provides a better shopping environment. That in turn encourages repeat shoppers and more purchases - everyone's ultimate goal.
Regardless of whether or not a product uses the Adult designation, the product description should be clear what customers are going to receive. Customers should not be surprised by a product's content after they make a purchase.
The product description is the most important component in selling a product to a customer. It should be complete - telling the customer what he or she needs to know about the product - accurate, and clear. Incomplete or unclear product descriptions can result in disappointed customers, which is detrimental for all companies that sell on OneBookShelf sites.
The product description is not the best place to quote blocks of text from a product. Instead, display some pages from the product in the product preview (see below) and use the description to tell about the product. The "Set Up a Title Listing" or "Edit a Title Listing" form encourages the entry of several important pieces of information by providing boxes for author, artist, and number of pages. The "Product Page Text" on the form is the place to put anything else potential customers should know. For instance: Is the product a game, a supplement to a game, or something else? If it is a supplement, is it used only with a specific game, or can it be used with more than one genre or system of play? For whom is it intended - a Game Master, a player, or anyone? In what ways might a purchaser use the product?
If the product has specific requirements or value-added components, this is the place to mention them.
Is it software, usable only with certain programs? Point that out clearly; don't bury the fact in the text. Also spell it out - don't rely on people recognizing anything other than the most common abbreviations or acronyms out of context. Is it necessary to print the product in order to play? Make that specific, so customers know in advance, before they make their decision to purchase.
Point out if the product has an inksaving version to print, or a screen-friendly version, set in landscape instead of portrait orientation. The text could also reiterate key points - such as the author or page count - so customers have more than one chance to take in that information.
We do not currently allow offsite links within a title's description text, but we can make exceptions to that rule on a case by case basis. One standard exception to the rule is this: Titles that appear only in the Publisher Resources category may include external links to their onsite portfolio in the title description. If you have questions, please contact your Publisher Relations representative.
The product preview is the place to really show off the product, and there are several different ways to provide one.
Products in the form of a PDF (or more than one) can use the In-Page Flash Preview or the Full-Size PDF Preview, either of which can be automatically generated through OneBookShelf according to the product's settings. For other types of products, the publisher can create a custom preview, as a PDF, which customers can download.
In addition, audio previews are possible.
If using an automatically generated preview, be sure to carefully consider which pages to include; using the default settings is easy but not always appropriate. For instance, showing pages 2-7 (the default) might include the title page, table of contents, two pages of introduction, and the first two pages of text. These may or may not be the pages that best display the essence of the product to customers.
Please note again that products must be in the form of a PDF document to use the automatic preview tools.
When a product is new, it receives exposure on the front page of the sales sites. It is important that all publishers have the opportunity for their new products to receive this exposure, so new releases are limited to two per day per publisher.
If a publisher wishes to release more titles than that in a single day, there are at least two ways to handle the situation.
- Contact OneBookShelf and let them know about the multiple releases. OneBookShelf staff will back-date the activation date of the additional products, resulting in them not appearing as new releases. Notification should take place either before or immediately after the products are uploaded for sale, so that this change can be handled as quickly as possible.
- The publisher can use the "Date product should be available for sale" feature on the "Set Up a Title Listing" or "Edit a Title Listing" page to stagger the release of products that would otherwise be available at the same time. More sales are made by having regular releases than by releasing a large number of products at the same time, so this can be a valuable option.
OneBookShelf, Inc. reserves the right to deactivate any product which is presented in a way that does not adhere to these standards, or which otherwise diminishes the overall quality of the shopping experience for customers. At its discretion, OneBookShelf may reconsider such an action if the product or its presentation is later modified so as to meet the standards.