Publishers Realizing There's Revenue In Selling Ebooks Of Old Content... Even If It's Available For Free

from the you-can-compete-with-free dept

We've been explaining for years that you absolutely can compete with free, and in the last few months a bunch of news publications have figured out an interesting strategy that's working surprisingly well: taking old content from their magazines/newspapers/blogs/etc. and repackaging them as cheap ebooks. And, even though much of that content is available already for free, the convenient package combined with the low price (and the rapid spread of tablets and ebook readers) seems to just hit the sweet spot that makes people willing to pay. We'd actually been planning to do something similar ourselves with some of our past content, just as an experiment, and still plan to do so soon, but it's great to see how well it seems to be working for a variety of publications. It's not a paywall since all the content is available for free, but it is about giving people a reason to buy.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    jakerome (profile), Oct 13th, 2011 @ 12:08am

    A certain irony...

    The GigaOm article is titled, "Planning a paywall? Maybe you should sell some e-books instead"

    Then below the article are links to more stories... stuck behind the GigaOm paywall.

    Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
    Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.


    Maybe they should take their own advice?

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Robert Freetard, Oct 13th, 2011 @ 12:51am

    People will pay for...

    Convenience,

    Context,

    Intelligent linking, IE: Connections they would have otherwise missed

    Filtering,

    Good, useful aggregating.

    At least I will. Even if the source material is as free as crtl-c/ctrl-v those features, even if only fairly well implemented are enough to get me to pay money for what I could get for free.

     

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

  3.  
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    mike allen (profile), Oct 13th, 2011 @ 2:16am

    having a hard copy (a book) can be useful that is why it works.

     

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

  4.  
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    Butcherer79 (profile), Oct 13th, 2011 @ 4:28am

    Sounds to me like people will pay to be lazy, and isn't that how most industries are?
    All I need to do now is find a very easy way of doing something that people don't normally like or can be bothered to do and sell it to them at a (not so)reasonable price...
    If only there was a 'thinking machine' available to help me

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    mdavidthomson, Oct 13th, 2011 @ 4:52am

    Kevin Kelly Generatives

    I love Kevin Kelly's 8 generative column. And this is clearly Generative #8: Findability. http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2008/01/better_than_fre.php

    I keep going back to that article for business model ideas (along with Mike's general theory on the economics of free post). It really sums it up very well, if you've read Mike and Kevin Kelly, none of these things look surprising at all, it just makes sense.

     

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

  6.  
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    abc gum, Oct 13th, 2011 @ 4:59am

    Re: People will pay for...

    Maybe we all have paid too much already and it is time for market correction. Out with the old and in the new, etc.

     

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

  7.  
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    abc gum, Oct 13th, 2011 @ 5:02am

    Re:

    "having a hard copy (a book) can be useful that is why it works."

    And the seller would experience some level of difficulty retrieving it after being told they lacked the rights to sell it.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Oct 13th, 2011 @ 5:04am

    Re:

    "All I need to do now is find a very easy way of doing something that people don't normally like or can be bothered to do and sell it to them at a (not so)reasonable price... "


    psssst ... self cleaning toilet.

     

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

  9.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Oct 13th, 2011 @ 7:25am

    Any newspaper can collect together all the articles related to a specific event and if I'm interested in that event I'd pay $5-$10 for the book. It's an awesome way to do local history. Old news becomes valuable again when it gets old enough.

    All I've ever seen from my local paper is expensive, hardcover vanity books with articles by a single writer that just strokes their ego.

    Our paper's much more interested in locking all it's content away in archives hoping you'll pay $2 just to read one article.

     

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

  10.  
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    shawnhcorey (profile), Oct 13th, 2011 @ 7:51am

    Baen Free Library has been doing this for years. Jim Baen firmly believed offering free ebook downloads of popular books increased sales of real books.

    See http://www.baen.com/library/

     

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

  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 13th, 2011 @ 11:30am

    TECHDIRT - YES PLEASE DO THIS WITH YOUR CONTENT! I HAVE BEEN WONDERING IF THIS IS AVAILABLE.

     

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

  12.  
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    Nikky, Nov 10th, 2011 @ 5:32am

    Sounds familiar,are they going to collect the related articles before publishing?

     

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


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