Karnac Books Case Study

Karnac Books are a niche publisher and bookseller, specialising in books on the subjects of counselling, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. They also sell subscriptions to various journals via their website.

Fairfax Computing first built Karnac Books an e-commerce web site back in 2003. Later In 2009 we rebuilt the Karnac site from the ground up using Active Server Pages (ASP) and Microsoft SQL Server. The new design was constructed using CSS for it's layout.

In 2012 we added eBooks capabilities to the website, allowing customers to purchase electronic versions of Karnac titles. The site automatically sets eBook pricing, and incorporates automated delivery of the eBook purchases via email.

In early 2014 Karnac Books once again approached us with a view to freshening up the website design, to incorporate some modern functionality, and also to provide a much cleaner and less cluttered page layout.

They were also keen to cater for visitors that may be using a mobile device, so it was suggested that we design them a responsive website template that would scale the site pages according to the size of screen used to access the site.

This new responsive design allows the same set of webpages to present the full content for desktop users, with a simplified interface for users on mobile devices. This makes navigation of the site much easier and allows Karnac Books to tap into a new and expanding audience.

The website is integrated to a back office system called Bookmanager, which holds the master product catalogue, and also performs all the sales order and financial processing. A base product feed is sent from Bookmanager, which includes ONIX data for extended book information, to the site on a regular basis, where extra website specific content is added. The site then sends orders back to Bookmanager, which in turn updates the website with order status changes - the customers then receice email notifications of order status changes.

Karnac Books are able to administer all aspects of the website via an online control panel, which also features a dashboard and reporting features for instant visibility of the websites sales performance.

The site has additional specific features like an Events calendar, reading lists and series to give added value to the visitors, and make it easier to cross and up sell.

The site features some advanced promotional functionaility such as a complex multi tier Discount Voucher Codes System, "Buy X for X" feature,dynamic discounts for top selling titles, and even abandoned basket email capabilities.

The control panel features an automated email newsletter template, which has been designed as responsive with mobiles in mind - all Karnac staff need to do is specify the products that they want to feature in various sections, and the email creative is produced without any coding know how at all. The email marketing is delivered via Constant Contact, so the site speaks directly to them via the Constant Contact APIs.

Karnac Books Home Page
view site


  • Responsive E-Commerce website linked to existing Bookselling system, with eBooks and Google Books Preview


  • Responsive design to cater for mobile devices
  • Fully featured book selling site with eBook functionality
  • Google Books Preview
  • Online website admin control panel for instant updates
  • Linked to back office systems
  • Integration with Constant Contact APIs

Technologies Used

  • Active Server Pages (ASP)
  • MS SQL Server 2005
Karnac Books Product Page
Karnac Books Category Page