Culture

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.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Mar 2010 @ 10:21pm

    Re: personal experience

    "By comparison, I can pull down more than a thousand illegal copies of books in a month (from a site that was clean the month before, so I have a time frame on the downloads) and see no spike in sales whatsoever. "

    You know, I think a logical person would take that experience, notice that they are wasting their time and effort, stop bothering, and use the extra time to, you know...run their business more effectively.

    But then, logic seems to escape you.

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