Introduction: Hacks #61-64

Being paid once is a fine thing, but being paid repeatedly is fabulous. With a PayPal subscription button, you can offer your customers the chance to pay you again and again without any further human intervention. Subscription buttons allow you to collect automatically recurring payments easily for such things as club membership dues and monthly access to online content.

As mentioned in the introduction to Chapter 4, PayPal provides a tool to create subscription buttons for your site. Like ordinary Buy Now buttons, these are nothing more than HTML forms that can be placed on your pages. A customer clicks a Subscribe Now button to go to the PayPal site to confirm the new subscription, and the recurring payments begin.

For complete information about subscriptions and subscription buttons, see PayPal's Subscriptions and Recurring Payments Manual, available from within your PayPal account under the Merchant Tools tab. For now, keep a few facts in mind as you read this chapter:

  • PayPal offers no facility for storing your content or for digital rights management (DRM) of your electronic resources. PayPal simply triggers regular payments from your buyers to you.

  • Subscriptions can be canceled at any time by either you or your buyer. Use this as a selling point when asking customers to sign up. They will not require your cooperation if they decide to end the recurring payment.

If you turn on Instant Payment Notification (IPN) [Hack #65], notice of any changes to your active subscriptions, such as cancellations, payments, or new subscriptions, will be sent to the IPN script you specify, and your server can take immediate action as necessary.