Yet Again, Giving Away Free eBook Increased Sales Of Author's Books

from the and-again-and-again-and-again dept

Someone pointed this out on Friday, but I thought we've seen so many stories of it that it didn't necessarily merit mentioning. However, all weekend long more people submitted it, so perhaps it is worth pointing out. Neil Gaiman, who was part of Harper Collins experiment with giving away free ebooks, discovered (like so many others) that giving away the free ebooks helped increase sales. And, of course, it wasn't just for the one book that was offered for free, but across all of Gaiman's works. The other bit of information is that, as we expected, HarperCollins found that many people were not at all happy with all of the restrictions it put on the ebooks (including that you had to read it on their website rather than download it):
Response to our Browse Inside Online Reader was mixed -- with 44% saying they enjoyed the experience at 56% saying they did not. The chief complaints were that you had to have an internet connection to read the book, you had to scroll to see the whole page and that the load time was sometimes slow. 69% of respondents said that they would like to be able to download. Some people complained that since they couldn’t bookmark where they left off, they got lost between reading sessions.
Of course, plenty of people pointed this out when Harper Collins first announced the plan. But, better late than never. Gaiman notes: "the 56% of people who didn't enjoy the online reading experience may be a lot happier with how we do it next time out."

Filed Under: business models, ebooks, free, neil gaiman
Companies: harper collins

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  1. identicon
    Jon Evans, 14 Jul 2008 @ 2:53pm

    Half-corroborating, half-dissenting vote

    I too recently had a novel released online via HarperCollins's Browse Inside site (Invisible Armies, to be exact) and it definitely resulted in a brief uptick in sales.

    I too had a whole bunch of people complain that Browse Inside was reader-hostile. My thoughts here are more complex.

    The idea, from a publisher's point of view, is to hook readers with the online edition so that they'll buy the onpaper edition. Right now this works great. In the future, though, as people become accustomed to reading on their Kindles and Sony Readers, going from ebook to physical copy won't be as much of an upgrade, so providing downloads is understandably a scary and worrying thought for people, like me and my publishers, who actually want to make money off my novels. And right now online publication has enough novelty value that new paying readers outweigh those who might have bought a copy but instead read for free - but if online publishing becomes the norm, that will no longer be true.

    Musicians and, to some extent, nonfiction writers can use their music and books as loss leaders for performance income, but this is not really an option for novelists; fiction is not a performance art.

    That said, I'd be totally happy to provide one of my published novels as a free online download; but all of them? Right now it would probably be a good business move. In five years' time? I'm not so sure

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