Hello, and thanks for your question. As far as online sales, I'm not that knowledgeable. I have sold books through an online bookstore, and had no problems. But the print on demand and other book sales, I've not dealt with, since I have my own books. But I am in constant contact with authors who have Print On Demand books with 1stbooks.com, and others and they tell me that the books sell well.
Hi 'Zorbsh'n ... I may be a bit biased here, considering the fact that I develop web sites, but I can't think of any disadvantage for selling your book online. For that matter selling and/or marketing most any product online can only be advantageous, IMO. I'd not suggest foregoing the usual means of offline marketing, but online marketing adds a completely new and dynamic dimension to your product's visibility and availability.
People from all over the country and world are able to view, read, browse and buy your product from the comfort of their home. Email marketing (where you can include a brief description and a link to your site) is much less expensive than conventional mass mailings and you are better able to gauge the success of the campaign (improving on it if necessary).
Local bookstores aren't usually open 24/7, but your web site would be. While you are fast asleep in bed, people can be entering your "store," presenting their credit card and buying your book. You'd wake up to those new orders and ship them out.
In addition to all the folk that you know in your own home town, that would buy your book ... add to them the large list of online friends you've met that would love to support you. If you have a web site and are selling from it (preferably in real time), all we'd have to do is go to the site and place our order. You could easily and immediately go national with your first publication.
I could probably go on and on, as this is my favorite topic, but I think you get the picture.
You pose an interesting question and while I've only listed the advantages, perhaps others will join in and list the disadvantages.
As I close, I'm really trying to think of any disadvantages of selling online ... the only thing I can think of that comes close to a disadvantage is that it will cost money ... but most everything does.
Thank you so much for the information. Actually I don't have a book or anything, but I am helping someone and wanted to do some comparing. I don't know if he has a link or website, but I like the idea that if so it would be 24 hours and you can monitor your sales..... I will be sure to pass on all of what you two have said. Hmmmm this is interesting indeed. I wonder if we could do the Anthology on line?????? Destee what do you think??? I mean after the Birthday Festivities and all.