The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
Some societies and individuals would like to publish material in a closed section on a web site, making the information available only to society members. Another activity of many societies is publishing and selling books of local historical information, such as census extracts, tax lists, histories, and more. Societies have long published these books on paper and yet many would like to expand their publishing activities to include ebooks or online access to databases. Most societies would like to charge modest prices for these publications.
In fact, there are several ways of offering online content for a fee. You can accept online payments by credit card or (sometimes) by check without setting up complicated merchant accounts for processing credit card charges and without creating technically complex secure web sites with expensive SSL certificates. In fact, you don't even need a web site although I would suggest you have one. A web site will offer low-cost publicity that is impossible to generate elsewhere.
NOTE: For a description of SSL certificates, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ssl_certificate. However, be aware that it is a technical description. Don't worry about that as I will focus on how to avoid the need for an SSL certificate.
The best part of selling ebooks and other electronic material online is that the customer obtains instant access to the material. Even if the purchases are made at 3 AM while you are sleeping, the customer obtains the material he or she wants within seconds. Nobody has to wait for you to take action to fulfill the orders.
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