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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Free Books—Really a Bestseller?

Have you guys been following the trend of free books being offered on Amazon for their Kindle. If you don't know what I'm talking about, just check out the Literature & Fiction Bestseller List and skim through the top 50 books.

The New York Times recently featured an article that gave coverage to both opinions—stating that publishers and authors are divided on this issue. One side makes a case that it allows the public to discover new authors risk free, the other side argues that it devalues your product.

The article also states that authors are "torn" on this issues.

Are we?

For this post I'm asking you to share your thoughts, specifically talking about your books. Would you want to see your work offered free for e-readers, and under what conditions?

10 comments:

Jessica Dotta said...

As you know, I'm all for publicity. Anything that gets your name out there, especially when you have a product to back it up, interests me.

But as someone who would enter the scene a new author, I'd be cautious of anything that smacks of desperation. A quality product alongside a good publicity plan should be enough to get the author's name out (without resorting to giving away your product.)

So I personally would not want to see my book as a free giveaway--but since I have a trilogy, when the last book releases, I would not be opposed to the first book being offered free for a limited time. In that case, I believe it very well might garner new readership.

Ane Mulligan said...

I kind of agree that it can open the doors for people to discover new authors. A reader might be more willing to try a new one if they didn't have to pay for the book.

I think though to be fair, they could limit the number of freebies per author. That, to me, would take the sting out of it. And for out-of-print books, it's a great idea.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I'm not "there" enough to have an opinion. My first book doesn't come out till next Spring, and I'd like to see what kind of success the program has before I decide. They may be merely using it to get people to buy their e-reader...in that case it's a bad thing. But if it has the desired effect and raises overall sales...then it's a good thing :-)

Ane Mulligan said...

One author brought up a good aspect. The publisher has the rights or decision on ebooks, so I'm not sure how it affects us.

Kimberli said...

I agree offering free ebooks can smack of desperation, and that it may devalue an author's work (what, it's so bad they had to give it away?) But that didn't stop me from taking advantage of a few recent offers. Mind you, I didn't download every ebook on the list I received. Just two after reading sample chapters. Of the two I downloaded, I read one. Though beautifully written, the other story hasn't grabbed me.

Offering the ebook not only gave me more exposure to the author's work (it wasn't bad after all) but it encouraged me to use my ereader. I like curling up with a book! I like the feel of paper under my fingertips when I turn pages. And I like using whatever piece of paper I can find as a bookmark, and watching it slowly move toward the back cover. My reader can't provide that experience. However, I'm getting used to it thanks to these free offers, and now, I would consider purchasing another ebook.

When they lower the price for the digital copy. But that's another post.

Gina Holmes said...

A friend of mine was number one on Amazon's kindle. It turned out the book was free. I'm not sure I'd consider it a "best-seller" since it didn't sell. But, it did seem to impact, for awhile, her paperback sales. I think, like anything else, giving it away MAY help word of mouth a bit but the book still has to be excellent and I think there's value in the argument that it devalues the work.

I was for it, but I'm changing my mind I think.

Ane Mulligan said...

Of course, it all depends on who offers it for free. The publisher? Amazon? The author? I find my own opinion swinging back and forth. On one hand, it's exposure. On the other hand, does it rob the author of royalties? On the other hand ... well, this could go back and forth all day. I wish I could have some concrete evidence one way or the other. I'm getting dizzy.

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Elizabeth Ludwig said...

This is a confusing issue, to be sure. While I have mixed emotions on giving away an authors work, with the author having no say in the matter, I do think there is something to be said for using giveaways as a means of promotion.

Let me explain...

When my first book came out, I bought a LOT of copies and gave them away liberally. I gave them to my relatives, to my church, co-workers, libraries...on and on. My thinking was this...most people had never heard of me. Even a few of my family members and friends were surprised when I told them I'd written a book. Because of this, I could hardly expect my sales to be steller, literally or figuratively. So I gave books away, asked people to read them and share them with THEIR friends, family, co-workers, etc., and hoped that the result would lead to better sales on my NEXT book. Did it work? (Shrug) I guess I'll know that better when my next royalty statement comes out.

All that being said, however, giving away books was MY choice. I don't know as it can hurt an author, but I think it would definitely sting some to be left out of the process.

Michelle Sutton said...

I think it's a good marketing strategy. Give the book away on kindle for a few days for free and it sits on the top 100 for quite awhile even after it's no longer free. Does it devalue the work? Well, if Julie Klassen, Terri Blackstock, Brandilyn Collins, Margaret Daley, and many others didn't have their books up there after being free a few days, I may have thought that, but for someone who is a newer author, it gives readers a chance to read your work. My understanding is that many readers will then buy the rest of the books available by that author if they enjoyed what they got for free. I may just try this myself and see what happens. Then I could come back and tell you what the results of this experiment were. If I try it.