by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
books, free, mid-market, obscurity, publishing

Publisher Experiments With 'Free' And Sees Book Sales Increase 20x

from the not-bad dept

We've pointed to numerous studies, at this point, that have all found that, when done right, free ebooks can greatly increase the sales of physical books (and, in some cases, even of ebooks). Here's another empirical example of that in action. Chris Anderson points us to a blog post by someone at a mid-list niche publisher, talking about how successful its experiments with "free" ebooks have been. In this case, the publisher would offer up the first book in a series as a free ebook, and found that it drove massive increases in sales:
One of our free titles was the #1 download on Amazon for the entire month of February. The subsequent sales of books 2 and 3 in the series increased by a rate of 20 to 1. For this series, digital sales are approaching 20% of the total product sales distribution and growing. With the visibility of the digital sales on Amazon, we have seen a substantial increase in print sales to the brick and mortar book chains. In this one instance, digital is driving print sales.
Basically, what this publisher realized is that with most books, obscurity is a greater threat than "piracy," and free helps deal with that:
Much of the talk by the big 6 publishers has been stress over cannibalization of print sales, or the idea of replacement sales, by ebooks. For midlist publishers such as ourselves, I believe we fight against substitution. We capture the "browser" market. If our title is not available or visible, a customer will simply substitute for another one in the genre. Free gave us the visibility that we could not purchase.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. icon
    BLyons (profile), 17 Mar 2010 @ 7:13am

    using handheld readers

    MS, I fully agree that readers fall into two categories, but the reasons to use handheld readers and/or e-books may be more complex than you realize, whether they read to read or love the words inside the books. Some reasons to consider e-books you didn't adress...

    1) Vision impaired... Either increasing font size or text to speech programs aid readers, and both are available for any unsecured or DRM broken e-book. In addition, some doctors suggest e-reading to vision impaired because they claim the readers are easier on some people's eyes than bright white book pages long as you're not using a backlit screen in a completely darkened room, which they curse. But others find reading from a screen harder. That one is very individual.

    2) Expat or business traveler... e-Books allow even avid readers to purchase and carry hundreds of books while nowhere near an English-language bookstore and eliminates the need to either dispose of the books (oh the horror of that) or ship them home.

    3) Space saving... Likewise, some people don't have the space to keep all the books they'd like to reread around, but they can store e-books.

    4) Search features... Depending on the format of the book, you can search entire hard drives of books you own to find a single phrase or subject.

    5) Prior paper book losses... I know from experience how painful it is to lose all of your beloved paper books in fire or flood. With e-books, you can backup books off site and/or in several places to protect your investment in your books. I'm still replacing books I lost in a house fire 11 years ago, for instance.

    I'm sure I'm missing some, but all are valid reasons and have nothing to do with whether someone reads to read or immerses in the book. Whether or not you can immerse in an e-book is completely personal. I can. You seem to be saying you can't.


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.