Publishers Beginning To Recognize The Value Of Free... Even As They Fight $10 eBooks

from the different-worlds dept

We've seen how various book publishers have freaked out about the growing popularity of ebooks, often with a price capped at $10 -- arguing that it's cannibalizing the higher margins found on hardcover books. And yet, at the same time, some of those very same publishers are perfectly happy to offer up free ebooks as promotional items. While some publishers are complaining that this is "devaluing" ebooks, others are recognizing that free can be quite useful in helping an author get past the obscurity barrier. We've already seen how many "top selling" Kindle books are actually free, and it's good to see publishers looking to take advantage of that, even if they haven't quite figured out that similar economic logic can apply to cheap ebooks as well. However, given the success of free ebooks, it seems likely that those publishers who are fighting against the tide will eventually come around to recognize the benefits of such things.


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  •  
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    Brendan (profile), Jan 29th, 2010 @ 3:36pm

    title typo

    Recognize has gn reversed.

     

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    Jon Renaut (profile), Jan 29th, 2010 @ 3:44pm

    Competition

    I was hoping they wouldn't figure this out for a while yet. Less competition for new entrants to the publishing world.

     

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 29th, 2010 @ 6:16pm

      Re: Competition

      New entrants are still in a position to innovate faster. This competition is good. Besides, who cares who wins, as long as someone gets it right?

       

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        Jon Renaut (profile), Jan 29th, 2010 @ 6:24pm

        Re: Re: Competition

        Sure, competition is good, but I was kind of hoping to have a little more time before it got serious.

         

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          Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 29th, 2010 @ 8:19pm

          Re: Re: Re: Competition

          Heh, didn't realize who I was reading - now we're even! ;)

          But like I said, you are in a better position to innovate: unencumbered by legacy infrastructures and attitudes. One day when I stop writing about writing and get back to just writing, and assuming I actually finish anything I'm proud of, I'll be coming to people like you before I go to the old publishers - and I don't think I'm the only person with that mindset.

           

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            Jon Renaut (profile), Jan 29th, 2010 @ 8:28pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Competition

            I'd be happy to publish your book whenever you're ready.

            And when you run across someone else with that mindset, send them my way.

             

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              Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 30th, 2010 @ 1:06pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Competition

              I am working on converting a friend of mine. He landed an old-school literary agent (no small feat) but so far the agent hasn't had any luck.

               

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2010 @ 4:30pm

    And the publishers with free e-books owe the publishers without free e-books what now? See, I'd always heard that collusion and price-fixing were the crimes, and that not doing those things was not a crime. Perhaps it was just an urban legend, or as they say in publishing, a rural fact.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2010 @ 5:11pm

    Baen still offers a nice free library of ebooks. Tor did their free book a week email list for a while and it got me to buy some of the following books in the series. I'll never pay for an ebook though unless it was a couple bucks.

     

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      The Anti-Mike (profile), Feb 1st, 2010 @ 12:20am

      Re:

      You are the proof that free is ruining the market. They have helped you to define a very low price in your mind.

       

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        Marcel de Jong (profile), Feb 1st, 2010 @ 4:38am

        Re: Re:

        No, econ101 has set that low price.

        right now for paper books you have:
        - money for the publisher
        - money for the author
        - ink costs
        - printing costs
        - paper costs
        - distribution costs
        - storage costs

        with ebooks:
        - money for the publisher
        - money for the author
        - storage costs
        - distribution costs

        The costs have been slashed for the digital format.
        And don't give me the whole "conversion cost" malarkey. It's already in a digital format.
        And DRM should not be put on there, unless you want to lower the price even further. (As a DRMed product is worth less than an unDRMed product)

         

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    NAMELESS.ONE, Jan 30th, 2010 @ 4:22am

    me too id bet with a full chapter sample and a link to YOUR own site

    you could do a lot better then locking it up and crying us all a river.
    HECK do a series of 3 books and give the 1st away free.
    DONT get greedy now the transfer for my bandwidth online is 2 cents at 5 megabit for a full 700 meg
    a ebook is soooooooo cheap to give online that if you charge 1$ its almost ALL PROFIT

     

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    kolorowanki, Jan 30th, 2010 @ 3:00pm

    Thanks a lot for this information! it is very useful

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2010 @ 4:05pm

    "arguing that it's cannibalizing the higher margins found on hardcover books."

    Welcome to a little thing called progress. I'll refer you to the horse drawn carriage industry for an example of what it's net effect on businesses that don't adapt to a changing market is.

     

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    EEJ (profile), Feb 1st, 2010 @ 6:43am

    Baen Publishing

    Baen publishing mainly does science fiction novels, and have offered free e-books for quite some time now. Frequently, the books offered are the first (or first few) in an ongoing series, so if you want to continue the story, you can either pick up the latest copy at the bookstore, purchase it from them directly, or wait until the next copy comes out and (hopefully) the one you were waiting on becomes available for free.

    Because of their free ebooks on their website, I have now purchased over 20 physical books written by authors who Baen publishes, and I never even knew most of these authors existed before finding out about their free e-books.

    Also, the gutenberg project is awesome for free e-books, but only covers uncopyrighted works, or those books whose copyright holders have agreed to allow them to be provided for free. The gutenberg project helped me fall in love with Sherlock Holmes, and I've now purchased several copies of physical books written by Arthur Conan Doyle....

     

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