Publishers Succeeding With Free eBooks Driving Sales For Other Books

from the there-we-go-again dept

While I'm no fan of the Kindle for a variety of reasons (DRM, lack of real ownership of the books, etc.), it has to be admitted that the device has made ebooks a lot more mainstream than before. And, along with ebooks comes the realization to some publishers that it's now possible to give away some ebooks for free, and use them to promote other books (thanks to William C Bonner for sending this in). What the publishers are discovering is that they can offer up older books that have lost much of their commercial value for free, and it helps drive sales of newer books by the same author. In some cases, they give away the first in a series of books, which has proven to be quite effective. What the publishers are really realizing is that thanks to digital distribution, they can suddenly use the "free" cost of the book to hook people and get them to purchase later books in a series. This is hardly a new idea, of course, but it's great to see more book publishers figuring it out.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Wayne, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 5:43pm

    Free books at Baen

    Baen publishers has been doing this for some time now, and I cannot remember if you had ever mentioned them.

     

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  2.  
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    DanOfSoCal, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 5:48pm

    Free e-books

    Hooray! I'm excited about this news. By strange coincidence, I'd just heard the same thing from a colleague earlier today. Now if I can dig deep enough in my wallet, I might actually go out and buy a Kindle.

    BTW: I'm not sure what you mean by wanting "real ownership of the books", other than you want to take possession of a pile of paper and a small amount of ink. Go green, man! :-)

    Thanks for the article.

    Dan

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 5:52pm

    Re: Free e-books

    BTW: I'm not sure what you mean by wanting "real ownership of the books"

    Books have been recalled and removed from these devices at the request of the authors.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 5:54pm

    Re: Re: Free e-books

    BTW, it's called digital book burning.

     

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  5.  
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    RD, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 6:24pm

    But..

    But...but...Mike....you cant make money from FREE! You cant compete with FREE! FREE doesnt work as a business model! This is impossible, and cant work, cant be happening, and therefore MUST be STOPPED!

    Now all you whiny "free doesnt work!!" idiots can just not bother to post, I've got you covered.

     

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  6.  
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    Mike C. (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 6:31pm

    Re: Free e-books

    "Real" ownership

    About a month ago, in an interesting twist, George Orwell's 1984 was summarily removed from everyone's Kindle. I believe Amazon offered refunds to everyone that purchased the ebook, though.

    It's still disconcerting to hear that you can go through the motions of spending money for an item that you believe you "own" (e.g. at least have the right to keep a readable copy on your Kindle) only to find out that is completely untrue.

    In essence, it appears that you only get to buy books at the whim of the publishers. If they change their minds, even far into the future, you will lose the item you've spent your money on. Something to consider before making that purchase.

     

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  7.  
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    Miles, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 6:40pm

    eReader

    The Sony Bookstore gives away books, and you know, it works, because it is a way to discover authors, and it is cheap for the publisher, and for the none Stephen King author, this is excellent publicity

    Barnes & Nobles new eReader section should help speed up this process

     

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  8.  
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    drkkgt (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 7:49pm

    Re: Free books at Baen

    Love Baen and yeah, they give away the first one or two books in a series to get people hooked.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 8:02pm

    Re: But..

    Notice the huge asterix: they aren't giving away what they sell, they are giving away what they no longer can sell (the end of their long tail).

    The music business would be fine if the only music traded was 25 years old.

    THINK! It's a powerful weapon against your own ignorance.

     

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  10.  
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    Allen (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 10:15pm

    Re: Free books at Baen

    A search of Techdirt turned up a few mentions. And they get a few more in the comments.

    Jim Baen was a legend. Other publishing houses would do well to emulate his model.

     

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  11.  
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    sehlat (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 10:15pm

    Re:

    Actually, high quality free eBooks are easy. Just publish high quality books. The Baen Free Library has many such. Chris Dolley's "Resonance", for example, is the best multiple-worlds story I've ever read.

     

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  12.  
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    Eric Samson (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 10:23pm

    How long until Cliff's Notes start giving away (or embedding) the full text of the "classic" novels/plays they cover with/into their eBook versions?

     

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  13.  
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    Esahc (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 10:37pm

    Re: Re:

    Are you saying the classics aren't high quality? You should check out Project Gutenburg (http://www.gutenberg.org).

     

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  14.  
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    Esahc (profile), Aug 11th, 2009 @ 10:39pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    sorry meant to reply to softwaresoda170

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 11:02pm

    Re: Re: But..

    Why is 25 year old music any different?

    They're still under the same copyright as the newer stuff.

     

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  16.  
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    Ilfar, Aug 11th, 2009 @ 11:19pm

    Re: Re: Free books at Baen

    Baen Free Library is brilliant, and the way the whole thing is linked into their webscriptions.net setup is a joy to behold. Nothing better than buying a book, and noticing one of the "People who have bought this book also liked..." links is for the free book at the start of another series.

    I haven't read a non-Baen book in over a year now, their free offerings alone are a good couple of months reading for slow times at work. :D

     

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  17.  
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    Paul`, Aug 12th, 2009 @ 4:20am

    Re: Free books at Baen

    yeah I was about to comment about that. They also include CD's with some of their hard covers that have a large selection of their free library on it, plus other interesting stuff about the books to add value.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2009 @ 5:14am

    Re: Re: Re: But..

    More to the point, 25 year old music would have been made in the middle of the 80's. While I know there are a ton of people out there who absolutely despise the music from that time period, it seems to be one of the most commonley downloaded genre's. So the music industry is still quite upset about it.

     

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  19.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 12th, 2009 @ 7:50am

    note to self

    the project should include options for most media like LimeWire

    252 note/entry) Include music, video, e-books, software for free and sale in the specs.

     

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  20.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 12th, 2009 @ 8:02am

    Re: note to self

    253) Also include buy XX get YY Free option in the accounting and sales pieces.

    254) Include "If you like this you may also like this" based on author/artist/type of. Make additions to the "if you like this" list by the artist/author/etc allowable.

    255) browsing the system does not require registration.

    256) downloading free "content" does not require registration. This may be problematic and prone to Abuse (Think denial of service attack via downloading) and subject to change.

    257) Registration to the system does not require a credit card only purchases do.

    258) PayPal like service for transactions on the back end.

    259) different paypal like service in each country. Financial, banking, and tax laws are differnt in each country.

     

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  21.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 12th, 2009 @ 8:03am

    Re: Re: note to self

    I really find alot of wonderful ideas here.... Thanks mike

     

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  22.  
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    Phillip (profile), Aug 12th, 2009 @ 8:25am

    Tor did this for a while

    Tor was doing this with some of their books, and it actually got me and my family to buy several.

    I don't know why they stopped, as it was a really good tool to get people interested in a series or author, such as:
    Brandon Sanderson Mistborn, they gave away book 1 and people who follow fantasy also know he will be writing the last book in the wheel of time series, so I had lots of incentive to see how he wrote

    Another one was Robin Hobb, I did get the first one for free from Tor and then bought the next two, however I have held off from buying her other two trilogies, because I believe personally she is wrong about a lot of things. She is completely against fan fiction and other appreciation of her work, because she thinks people will confuse it with her work or think she endorses it.

     

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  23.  
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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Aug 12th, 2009 @ 10:31am

    Baen rocks!

    I too really like the Baen/Webscriptions site. Even though it is a sci-fi/fantasy publisher, it has a lot of new material, advanced reader copies, and classics. I buy most (all) of my sci-fi ebooks there because a) no DRM, b) good prices (most books are $6 USD), c) good tracking of previous purchases, d) multiple download formats (get any/all anytime), e) decent number of preview chapters for all their books. That last one has led me to purchase quite a number of books from them. Once you get 4 or 5 chapters into a book, you either decide it's not for you, or you just HAVE to read the whole thing! :-)

     

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  24.  
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    Jason (profile), Aug 14th, 2009 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Re: Free books at Baen

    Those CD's usually contain the full body of the author's work as published by Baen, up to that point.

    In the case of one of John Ringo's books (There will be dragons) it included an audio book version of the story, as well.

     

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  25.  
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    Gregory, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 2:27am

    Baen is tops

    I must concur; the late Jim Baen, God bless and rest his soul, was onto a fantastic idea with the Free Library, the CD giveaways, and Webscriptions.

    Strangely enough, it's these freebies that get me paying more money for my deadtree edition books - having been hooked on them online, there's nothing that beats a paperback for portability and accessibility.

     

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  26.  
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    RLW, Aug 21st, 2009 @ 8:40am

    I've found it harder and harder to buy books over the last few years...

    The fact that I am sailing around the Caribbean where for the most part there are no bookstores leaves me with Amazon or Barnes and Noble as my book connection. Which would be OK f the interface was the sort that made it easy to figure out what books I moght be interested in as the various online models are somewhat lacking.

    So I have been getting a lot of free e-books and no big surprise but now having been able to download various books I find that my Amazon book orders have seriously increased as now when I find a new book I like in free ebook form I find that 75% of the time I buy it in paperback (I still don't enjoy reading books on my computer) more importanly for the author and publisher I find if I like a book by a given author I tend to buy other books by the author I did the free ebook download.

    I keep pretty good records and last year I spent about $300 on books. So far this year I have spent nearly $1000 almost all of it due to being hipped to authors and books by free ebooks... Do the math!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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