Another Author Notes That Giving Away His Book Increased Sales

from the piracy? dept

Dave points us to a recent interview with Lester Brown, who’s been pushing for alternative energy for years. I’d actually heard about his book, Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization a few months ago when someone pointed out that he was giving away his book for free, but I hadn’t heard much more about it. Yet, in the interview, he mentions that the book can be downloaded, which appears to surprise the interviewer, who seems to assume that this means the guy is willing to give up revenue to get his ideas out there by noting “you do feel strongly about this.” But then Brown points out that it’s not hurting sales at all, but quite the opposite:

Dr. BROWN: No problem. Incidentally, “Plan B 4.0” is online at It can be downloaded free of charge.

FLATOW: No kidding.

Dr. BROWN: Yeah.

FLATOW: Wow. You do feel strongly about this.

Dr. BROWN: Yeah. And it’s interesting, people think this must reduce sales. In fact, it increases sales.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Dr. BROWN: Just between the two of us

Of course, this is hardly the first author to recognize this, but add another one to the pile. It’s about recognizing that obscurity is a bigger risk that piracy, and then figuring out how to get more attention and then giving people a real reason to buy on top of that attention.

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Another Author Notes That Giving Away His Book Increased Sales”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

Seems possible some effect similar to those described in the economics article earlier could be at work in situations like these as well. The naive assumption is that no-cost access to the book online automatically means people won’t pay for a printed version, ever, so they must be forced to pay. In me at least, this triggers an “is this really worth it?” thought process that quite often results in an answer of “no, not really”. Being able to experience the book fully may lead to “wow, this is really good. I want a copy on my bookshelf for quick reference. And I’ll grab a few more copies to give as gifts too”, along with the good feeling that comes from promoting an author that deserves recognition. Or buying a hardcopy in appreciation for a real benefit the free online version provided.

Overcast (profile) says:

Umm, let’s not read into this any further than it needs to be – this is making a point – so let’s not interject religion here..

But the ‘best selling book of all time’ – the Bible; can be found free just about anywhere.

And in that whole list of top selling books – you’ll also find the Quran and Book of Mormon – both of which are bascially free for the asking.

Paul Renault says:

See here, right where it says “Entire Book”:

The problem is that the PDF is formatted as a two-page-per-page document, which makes it almost totally useless for an e-reader. Sigh. I’ll have to see if there’s an easy way to reformat it…

BTW, the MP3 files (the preface and introduction) are just barely audible in a quiet room. Note, audible, not listenable..

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:

Before and after

It’s about recognizing that obscurity is a bigger risk that piracy…

Before they are “famous”, this is true. It’s much better to get your stuff out their, get it read, build up a fan-base. But what about after? I’m afraid the tendency will be to back away from those ideas that got your name out there in the first place, and begin beating the Infringement Drum ™.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...