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Be There With Your Square October 25, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in conventions, food, ideas, inventions, iPad, VIPub, web & computers, writing.
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Mike Stackpole forwarded this yesterday, and a major innovation it is, too. At booksignings, especially conventions, I hate the idea of selling my books as well as autographing and generally talking with fans. But VIPub sorta requires, you know, sales. This is a high potential situation but fumbling with money while figuring out whether the book ought to be inscribed (omg, the names! I always ask for the spelling, even for common names–most names aren’t spelled commonly anymore), making change and generally confusing what I am doing. Am I an author or a sales clerk? Answer too often is both.

And sales generally requires a leap of faith to take a check from someone you have never seen before or, more likely, trying to make change when everyone ahead of your current fan has dropped a $20 bill on you. I know, what a terrible burden to bear. But usually this can be 2 earlier fans. Now comes the Square which will revolutionize taking credit cards.

If you’ve got an iPad (I do and still love it!), you can become a POS (Point of Sale). Swipe the card, get credit card approved and the money’s on its way to you and the fan has a book, signed or inscribed. Fantastic idea. And the Square will also handle smartphones, of course. This is almost enough to make me consider a 3G iPad. I don’t do that many cons but the ones I do…

Of course my first thought was how to screw the card holder. Scenario: paying your bill in a restaurant and that waitcritter who ignored you throughout the meal takes your card into the back room to perform demonic rituals with it. Only this demonic ritual is to run it through for not only the restaurant bill but also a couple bogus ones on the waitthief’s smartphone. Out of sight, you’re helpless to control access. And it might be weeks unless you are OCD before you find the illicit charges. And then you have to hassle over it since your card wasn’t lost–its function was momentarily stolen.

One possible way around this is something AMX does on gas pumps. Run the card, enter your ZIP code to continue. Restaurants might have to use their own version of the Square right at the table where you get to enter you PIN or ZIP code before the transaction goes through. Even then, you have to worry about key capture software learning your super secret 4 digit code (as if this is much of a problem anyway).

But the gizmo can be a real game changer. Buy Girl Scout cookies. A taco from the street vendor. Maybe even your dope and no cash required, instant payment, instant gratification.

Ring ‘er up, Danno.

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