I’ve just been trying to visit Greg Gibson’s Ten Pound Island Book Company web site. Like most people, I used Google to find the site, which it did. However, it then refused me entry. It seems someone had hacked the site with malware, and it was currently being banned by Google. In the current Internet age, that is the equivalent of a medieval excommunication. It effectively cuts the site off from communication with the world. Fortunately it turns out Ten Pound Books was already aware of the problem and were working with Google to get themselves back in the good graces of the search engine version of god.
Greg has an excellent blog entry on the subject. His blogs are usually worth reading and this one has a useful description of what happened and what the threat is to other retailers and book dealers. Something similar (though less extreme) happened to our Parnassus Book Service online store, which we were able to recover from through help of our host server and the creation of some captchas.
We’ve been making a lot more changes to the site recently. We have refreshed the look in a way that will allow people to use it on mobile devices, as well as making it appear more professional and trustworthy. Persuading strangers to part with their money is a challenge that we are trying to meet by building up the appearance (matched, I hasten to add, by the fact of) respectability and professional standards.
We have also finally begun adding photographs of the books, and that is already having an effect on sales. At the moment we only have one photo per book, but we’ll be adding more options soon.
Finally, we have refined the home page to make it easier to find books. A list of our main categories greets the visitor and lets them drill right down to the books. Or they can do a quick search on title, author, etc. Hopefully its easier access to what people are looking for. We’ll see if it makes a difference.