The Writerly Habit

This blog is about my struggles to get into the habit of writing regularly.

Publishers Torn on Free E-Book Giveways

Kindle Wireless Reading Device (6" Display, Global Wireless, Latest Generation)

In an article in the New York Times, a publishing battle has been brought to the forefront. Several publishers are offering free e-books as promotional tools to entice Kindle users to buy other titles by the same author. Generally these are older titles used to promote newer ones.

Some publishers are concerned with the $9.99 fixed price Amazon is setting for Kindle books. They feel that this alone will cause users not to want to pay $24.95 for a hardcover. Giving it away for free is even worse. I tend to lean to the other side. If I read a free book by an author I don't know, I am more likely to buy other titles if I like it. $24.95 is a huge gamble on a new author (especially given our current economic climate). A free e-book is low risk. Besides, if you can afford a Kindle, you can probably afford to buy additional titles if you like what you see.

To me, this is reminiscent of the pre-internet video game era. You'd buy a game for $50 with no idea if it was good or not. Turns out, the game is terrible and you can't get a refund so it just sits on your shelf gathering dust. Or you use it as a coaster, same diff. Books are even more difficult to gauge. You can't just get on YouTube and watch a plot walkthrough. Ok, ok, that's enough with the video game analogy but you get my point.

I want to know what you think. Is this a good marketing tool or a shameful act that will cause the print market to collapse?


L. 'Ailina Laranang said...

Speaking from a reader's perspective and experience, free e-books entice me to buy more. I agree, sampling often leads me to spend more money.

I have limited funds to spend on leisure (books, music, movies), so I'm very judicious about stepping beyond what I know (Classics). I rarely buy something by a new author unless I've been otherwise convinced what I'm buying is at least 75% guaranteed an enjoyable read.

Even though books are available in digital format, I still prefer to purchase the bulk of my books in paper form. I also tend to be a loyalist once I find an author I really enjoy, so that results in purchases of several books by the same author.

Having a free "sample" in digital format is the best way to hook me. I (almost always) refuse to spend money on a bound book if there's a risk I won't enjoy it.