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
    Rick Cook, 15 Jul 2008 @ 2:38am

    Re: Half-corroborating, half-dissenting vote

    Actually Jon, I think you're underestimating the power of the model.

    Like you, I'm a published novelist. Like you I've had some of my books published for free online -- in my case through the Baen Free Library with my enthusiastic approval.

    My first observation is that even those two books (our of the five in the series) continued to sell well even after they were available for free. In fact looking at my royalty statements over the several years it appears that having those books available from Baen Free Library actually extended the life of the series.

    I'm getting ready to extend the experiment further. I'm getting ready to put the unfinished sixth book in the series "The Wizardry Capitalized" up for free on my web site. (Why unfinished? A little matter of heart surgery and extended health problems which left me unable to finish the books.) I'm doing this because some people ahve asked to see it even in its incomplete state. I will be very interested to see what effect this has on the sales of my other books.

    The second, larger, point is that even if everything you write is published for free on the web there are still a lot of ways to make money out of writing. The case isn't as clean as it is for musicians -- who make pathetically little off their album sales anyway, but it still happens.

    Writers are re-entering a period when the key to being financially successful is community building. The novel becomes only one tool for building that community and not necessarily the best way to make money out of it.

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