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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Great Gadget for Authors - THE SQUARE

Thanks to Twitter's @Worderella for putting me onto a little gadget called simply "The Square."

If you haven't heard of "The Square" yet, it's a slick little hardware/software system that allows you to accept credit card payments using your iPhone or android-compatible device. Here's a list of supported devices from Squareup:

Apple iOS

  • iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4
  • iPod touch (2nd generation or later)
  • iPad
Google Android
  • Motorola Droid, Droid X
  • HTC Nexus One, Droid Incredible, Evo, Desire, Hero (With Android 2.X)
  • Samsung Galaxy S Series, Intercept
  • LG Ally
There's a picture of The Square at the link above. You might want to glance at it so you have a mental picture of what I'm talking about.

How do you get started with The Square

I found it really easy to get up and running with this clever device. You install the free Square software on your PC or Mac. Then you set up an account with all the same sort of info you would need to provide to set up a PayPal Account, or an auto-transfer system to/from your bank account.

Finally, you install the "Square" free app on your cell phone or other device.

Now all that's left is to verify your access to and control over the bank account you have chosen to associate with processing of payments with The Square. This is accomplished with the usual two small deposits into your account. Then you verify by reporting the exact amounts of the deposits to Squareup . . . and you're set to receive credit card payments.

What cards can I accept?

According to Squareup--

Square works with any US-issued credit, debit, pre-paid, or gift card with a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover logo.
They currently do not accept HSA cards (Health Savings Account), even if they have a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover logo on them.
I've already tried my Square with Visa, Mastercard and Amex. All worked flawlessly.

Exactly how do I accept a payment?

To accept a credit or debit card payment, you simply:

1) Plug the white square into the headphone jack on your phone;
2) Launch the Square app on the phone;
3) Enter the amount to be charged;
4) Swipe the buyer's card through the slot in the white square; and
5) Let your buyer "sign" your phone screen (with a finger or stylus).

That's it -- unless you want to send the buyer an email receipt, in which case you will have an opportunity to do so after step 5.

Squareup will send you an email with a transaction summary.

Squareup deposits your sales receipts into your bank account weekly (for amounts up to a total of $1,000), or monthly for larger amounts. I've already received my first deposit.

So what does this system cost me?

The upfront cost is ZERO. Software is free. The app is free. Even the little white square gadget is free (sent to you in the mail). The only cost is a portion of each transaction. If you charge the card by "swiping," the fee is $.15 plus 2.75% of the transaction amount. [NOTE: Transaction fees no longer have the $.15 charge and are a flat 2.75%. 6/20/12] If you charge the card by typing in the CC number manually, the cost is 1.00% more. (I suppose there is a greater risk of fraud in this manner of transaction.)

No monthly/annual fees or minimums!

So if you're selling a $20 book, your cost to accept a credit card would be $.70 [now $.55]-- if you swipe the card. Compared to losing a sale at a book fair because the buyer wasn't carrying cash, I think that's a pretty reasonable cost. I know I could have sold at least a few more books at the Mpls. Book Festival if I had been able to accept credit cards!

My evaluation

This is a really cool gadget that will earn you additional book sales AND make you look like you are tech-savvy. It's a great tool, plus a conversation piece. At a grand cost of ZERO to get set up, I'd say, "What are you waiting for?"

That's it for today.

Thanks for stopping in.



  1. John I'm glad you got a chance to try out Squareup! I went ahead and registered everything as well... until I realized my phone won't accept the little device! I'm so bummed. Maybe I can find a converter, or something.

    Anyway, this is an awesome time to be an indie author, right? Now we can walk around with copies of our books and accept credit cards! With our PHONES.

    Best, Belinda a.k.a. @worderella on Twitter :D

  2. Hi Belinda,

    If it's a matter of getting the right headphone plug-in, you can definitely find an adapter. There may even be one in the box your phone came in.

    And yes, it's a great time to be an indie author!

    Thanks for stopping!


  3. Wonderful post John. Thanks for keeping us all informed. It's much appreciated and this device sounds like a great thing for book events. Best regards and hope you're having a wonderful holiday season.

  4. Hi Wanda,

    Thanks for your kind comment, and for your links posted on Twitter and FaceBook (maybe elsewhere?).

    Glad to hear and see your book, Sometimes That Happens With Chicken, is doing well.

    Thanks for stopping in.

    Merry Christmas!


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