Arsenal Pulp Press: Building a Site With the Reader in Mind

“We’re happy that the new site is geared to how our readers actually think about and search for books,” says Lam. “We’ve seen major gains in sales from the website and are finding a lot of customers are doing “deep dives” into our backlist – whether for a specific author or category.”

Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press 
Visit the site at:

About the Press

Arsenal Pulp is one of Canada’s most exciting, respected publishing houses, known for championing new and diverse voices as well as for tremendous success in building US sales. The press’s program spans a wide range of genres, and many Arsenal Pulp books have gone on to win major literary awards.

The Challenge

From an aesthetic standpoint, Arsenal Pulp’s old website did not reflect the press’s personality. Functionally, it was not performing well in terms of user experience and was not optimized for e-commerce.
Publisher Brian Lam summed up the problem by saying,

“We wanted a website design and system that would really showcase our diverse catalogue, make it easy for both Canadian and American customers to shop from the site, and allow us to experiment with sales campaigns and discounting. Our old site was too subdued, sluggish, and compartmentalized.”

Screenshots of the old and new Arsenal Pulp Press sites

The old Arsenal Pulp site (left) and the redesigned site (right).

The Solution

We built a site that responded to Arsenal Pulp’s main priorities, featuring:

  • A homepage featuring a custom subject list that clearly articulates the sub-genres they are known for: books written by LGBTQ+ and BIPOC (i.e., Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) authors, graphic novels, cooking titles, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children’s and YA titles.
  • A bold, responsive design.
  • The integration of two shopping carts on the site: one for Canadian customers, and one for American customers. The site automatically detects whether the customer is in Canada or the US, and it directs them to the corresponding shopping cart.
  • A shipping system that shows customers the exact cost of shipping to their address – key because high and/or unexpected shipping charges are the top reason that customers abandon their carts at the last minute. With their new website, Arsenal Pulp can offer the lowest possible shipping charges to their customers. Any changes in postal rates are automatically reflected in the final price. 
  • Prominent “pre-order” buttons on title pages.
  • Simple ways of running sales and marketing campaigns. “It’s really easy for us to quickly begin a campaign, end it, and see what’s working and what’s not,” says Lam. Plus that big banner on the homepage is great for emphasizing what you most want visitors to check out, whether that’s a discount or your new spring catalogue.”