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
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jul 2008 @ 3:46pm

    Re: Half-corroborating, half-dissenting vote

    While the business plan you outline above is certainly threatened if people who used to buy the book now just reads it for free and buys nothing, I think you're overlooking two important parts.

    The first is the advertising value. Even when people get used to reading on screens (I've been doing it for years) they'll still purchase books for the tangible good. Don't see ebooks as competing with books, see it as paperbacks and ebooks competing with hardback books.

    The second is the reward factor. I've purchased every book Terry Pratchett has written since, a collection I took up in 2002: I borrowed a lot of his books from a friend, and when that friend moved, I illegally downloaded a lot of his books from the net so I could keep reading (this is what started med down the ebook path). And as soon as I had a real job so I could make some money, I dedicated some of that money to purchasing his books, even though I'd already read them, because I liked the idea of giving money to Terry Pratchett, and because (first factor) I liked having a tangible good, rather than the ebooks. I still have a vast collection of illegally downloaded Terry Pratchett books, but by now, only three of those are still un-purchased, and that's more because I can't find them in the edition I want than because I don't want to buy them. I wouldn't have bought any of those books if I hadn't been able to read them for free first.

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