Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Free Book Phenomenon

Kindle has for sometime offered free books. At first it was the classics that came with the device. Nook adopted the same habit of offering the first books to hook you to the e-readers as free. B&N now offers new books as free, following in the footsteps of Amazon.
Authors who offer their work as free are on both sites. The books are independents that most likely have lost their selling power, and the author has several other books out and offers the earliest as freebies. Others are offering free tidbits of up and comings, by hooking the reader with the beginning of their book. The hope is the reader will buy the full length, for whatever price they’ve chosen, anywhere from .99 and up.
This is a great promotional tool. It can bring more sales for the full length, but there can be a drawback to the author, which is, it’s free. No money coming in on free books. The book isn’t paying for itself. You might see uploaded 4,000 free that could be sales. It can also kill a book in sales on the side of the partials. If there are bad reviews on the freebie, it could stall sales for the full length.The advantage of bad reviews, take them to heart and fix the problems before the full length is released.
For readers it can be addictive. I’ve heard this more than just a few times where a reader prefers the freebies first before going to the priced books. Admittedly, there are thousands to choose from and to up load. It’s endless. It can keep a reader reading for months without so much as spending a dime. The economy is bad, and people love anything free. I know I do, but have yet to upload a single free book. I like to support the author. Another turn to this, I’ve bought the book before it went free, which can be annoying. It makes me want to wait for the next book to go free, so I don’t have to plunk down my .99cents or what have you. I know it’s cheap of me, but its pay back for putting the first one up free. Again that can defer sales, probably not by a huge margin, but one never knows where the future will take us and our freebies.
I’m not against free at all, but I wonder how it does play into sale numbers. I’ve considered putting the first chapters of ‘She Cried Wolf’ up for free. I could put the partial up here on my website, but on Amazon or B&N it would be greater exposure. I’d hope it would bring in readers to the full length. The keyword here is, “I hope”.
Time will tell where all the freebies will lead readers and where it leaves the author. This much I can say, I’ve worked too hard on my books to ever put a full length up for free. I know, it’s never say never.
How do you feel about the freebies as a reader or writer?

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