Your Number Is Up
I've written before about the dearth of developer APIs from sites like Amazon KDP, but this week I ran across the Numerous API, and pondering how many things could be possible (but currently aren't) made me think it was time to grind that particular axe again. This isn't just for book sellers, this is for all creative-entrepreneurial platforms (let's call them CEPs to save space), including CreateSpace, Shutterstock, CafePress, and more. If you're a creative entrepreneur (or an entrepreneurial creative), please help me pressure these CEPs into action. Or, at least read on for more details.
First, a little clarity: An "API" (application programming interface) is a set of online services that are designed to be used by software written by people other than the service providers, which allows those developers to create new products and services using the API services "behind the scenes." And what is this thing I'm calling a CEP? In short, it's a place that sells your creative work to buyers. In more detail, a creative-entrepreneurial platform (CEP) is a service that acts as an intermediary between creators and buyers, where creators are typically motivated by the desire to both create and actively earn money from their creations. The examples listed above help illustrate the range of CEPs that are available, and I expect there are many I'm not familiar with, across an even broader spectrum. In case you're not familiar with those examples, they are:
- Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), for e-books in the Kindle ecosystem (example: Assets, Budgets, and Credit: A Financial ABC)
- CreateSpace, for print-on-demand paperback books (example: Two Boys, Two Planets)
- Shutterstock, for stock photos, illustrations, and video clips (example: Colorful baskets at a market)
- CafePress, for a wide variety of physical products imprinted with custom designs (example: "Escape Velocity" bumper sticker)
Even within the scope of those examples, there are other examples: Kobo, Ingram Spark, Dreamstime, and Zazzle... and more. But in too many cases, if you want to find out if you've made any sales, you have to log in and check your sales stats interactively.
It doesn't have to be this way. Sales numbers do not need to be in a protected silo that inconveniences creators. Gumroad is a less-specific CEP that allows selling a wide variety of (primarily digital) creations, and they offer a set of existing integrations with other services (including IFTTT) as well as an API to develop new integrations. Your stats on Gumroad are not locked down. It's up to you how (or if) you want to use that freedom.
If all of the CEPs you use would open up sales data through APIs, you would be able to have a "dashboard" (built by you or by a software developer) that shows you all of your sales in one place without logging in anywhere, in near real time (depending on limitations of the APIs). Imagine how easy that would be compared to what you're doing now!
What will it take to get more CEPs to open up their sales data so that you don't need to log in to their site and/or download a file just to find out how many sales you've made? I don't have a good answer for that, other than demand—from us—and competition from other CEPs within their product scope.
If you have ideas for influencing CEPs to provide useful APIs, feel free to share them in the comments.
Photo credit: Michael Connors via morgueFile.com, used under license.