Thursday, February 02, 2006

Why is BookNews text instead of HTML?

I have been asked several times to turn the BookNews e-mail into an HTML e-mail. Well, we are considering it, but there are some very good reasons to keep it text, here are two of them:

1. Text is low bandwidth.
We have many customers who still depend on dial-up for their Internet connection, especially non-US customers. We want to respect that and keep the letter low bandwidth for them. I subscribe to several booksellers' and publishers' e-mail lists. One bookseller tends to send huge e-mails, one was nearly a megabyte. That would take a long time to load on dial-up, about 30 minutes.

2. We respect the privacy of our customers.
If an e-mail is HTML, it is possible to embed a piece of code that will "call home" everytime the e-mail is opened. The last place I worked we called them web-bugs. Marketing departments love web-bugs, because using them they can track how many times and by how many different people a marketing e-mail is opened.

At Eisenbrauns, we don't want to invade your privacy, so we don't use them. Even if we do decide to go with HTML mail at some point, we won't embed web-bugs. We are so concerned about your privacy that we don't use cookies on our website without the user's authorization. Because some users demanded it, we now permit a person to choose to set a cookie so that they don't have to remember to log in each time. But, we don't recommend you use that option on any publicly-accessible computer, since anyone using that computer can access your account. Further, we don't rent, sell, lend or otherwise share our e-mail list with anyone.

In an attempt to allow people to see the graphics of the books, we have added a link in our e-mails to our website. The link takes you to a page that displays all the books featured in that e-mail. That way, our low bandwidth customers can choose if they want to access the graphics or not, and our high bandwidth customers don't have to worry about their privacy being compromised.

We were toying with ideas the other day on how best to explain why we use text-only e-mail. Our webmaster had a good idea. Here is how he suggested we talk about text-only BookNews:


100% Fat Free.
No additives

Cute :) What do you think?


Dr. Joseph Ray Cathey said...


I - for one - very much like the option currently in place. You can click on a link and the Booknews will open in HTML. Another possibility is to allow people to sign up for either text links or HTML. I think some of the news services I subscribe allow this. I will probably put more work on your end but hey whatever keeps the customer happy. In any case Eisenbrauns has my vote for best book distributor of the Year!

Best Regards

Anonymous said...

I have HTML turned off in my e-mail browser precisely because of spammers embedding a pixel-wide bounce to check for live e-mail addresses.

I would encourage you to keep it as is or use the option of allowing people to choose text or HTML.


charleshalton said...

The content of the emails is what I care about, and as far as that goes, I am very satisfied. HTML or not doesn't really matter to me. Keep up the great work!