5 Replies Latest reply on Nov 13, 2011 11:07 AM by Nerdgirljenn

    Publishers need to take note: Free stuff & library lending = more sales


      There seems to be an attitude among big publishers that giving eBooks away, including letting libraries lend books, is a bad thing and means they loose money when people don't give them money every time they read a book.


      This attitude was exemplified by John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan, when he said, "You get the book, read it, return it and get another, all without paying a thing. It's like Netflix, but you don't pay for it. How is that a good model for us?"

      "If there's a model where the publisher gets a piece of the action every time the book is borrowed, that's an interesting model."


      [Complete article here: http://go-to-hellman.blogspot.com/2010/03/ebooks-in-libraries-thorny-problem-says.html Thanks to @bklvr896 for posting this link some time back.]


      I think this totally misses the promotional value of free content and libraries, as well as showing a lack of understanding of how many readers discover writers and books.


      My personal example:


      I read John Scalzi's Agent to the Stars as a free eBook. Hadn't heard of him. Hadn't seen a review of the book. But it was free and the premise sounded interesting.


      Came across his Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded  at the public library. Probably would have skipped right by it if it hadn't been for my previous (free) exposure.


      Having been happy with those two free reading experiences, I recently purchased the NOOK book of Old Man's War. This is a series of 4 books, so from a couple of freebies, they've managed to upsell me to over $30 in purchases.


      I know posting this here won't change anything. (I'll be emailing the publisher, as well.)


      Just thought I'd share this example. Free books and libraries expose people to new writers, make many of them them fans, and causes them to buy more books. It's that simple.


      At least that's how I see it.

        • Re: Publishers need to take note: Free stuff & library lending = more sales

          See this great article by Courntey Milan: http://www.courtneymilan.com/ramblings/2011/02/25/on-eating-your-seed-corn/


          I have bought many ebooks because freebies introduced me to the author, and many gifts for others from library introductions.

            • Re: Publishers need to take note: Free stuff & library lending = more sales

              I was one of those people who tended to spend their money on authors I already knew and liked.  Every once in a while I would find a new one, but not often.  Since getting a Nook, I have been exposed to hundred of other authors through free books and bought some of their other works.  In one case, I liked the author's work so much that bought every book he'd written.  This is an opportunity they would have missed without offering a free book first. 

              I can also understand where the publishers are coming from.  They at least obtained the price of the books from the libraries, but itsn't that just a pittance.  I'm certain some smart accountant can figure out a way to adjust their write-offs to compensate for the lost sales, like by calling them Marketing costs.  :smileywink:

            • Re: Publishers need to take note: Free stuff & library lending = more sales

              I agree that I've found some new authors and series because the first book in the series was either free or less than $2.00.  It's a good marketing tool.  I think we are just experiencing the growing pains of the ever increasing eBook industry.  Traditional publishing companies aren't coping well with the change and seem to still want to apply traditional publishing strategies to a new market.  They need to bring some new marketing employees who better understand the digital world and the people who purchase in the digital world.  They need to get those in positions of power to understand that publishing is changing and they need to change with it.

              Do I think we'll ever get to mostly self-publishing? Probably not.  Publishing companies provide advances to writers, which allows those writers to write, not work a day job and write in their spare time. Publishers provide the infrastructure to edit, publish and market the books, which leaves authors to write.  I'd much rather have my favorite writers start their next book rather than taking the time to get the latest book ready for market. There has to be a compromise between traditional marketing and digital marketing, meeting somewhere in the middle.


              On the other hand, there was a self published author promoting his/her book on this forum.  S/he's priced the first book at $6.99.  Someone suggested s/he consider the first book free or nominally priced to get people interested because he/she is planning on a series of 10 books.  The author said no thanks to the suggestion, so even self-published authors don't understand the value.   Because I'm even less likely to spend $7 on an self-published author I've never heard of than on than one produced by a publishing house.  And yes I know the fact that it's from a publishing house doesn't guarantee a good book, but at least someone has read it and felt it deserved publishing other than the author.


              The other thing is, their current strategy certainly doesn't seem to be hurting sales. The publishers need an incentive to make the necessary changes and eBook sales have continually being going up over the past 2 years, and it appears that most readers don't mind they way the books are marketed or priced so I think publishers don't see any incentive in changing things.  

              • Re: Publishers need to take note: Free stuff & library lending = more sales

                I agree completely!  I can't tell you how many Free Friday authors I've discovered and like.  Then went on to purchase many other books by each of them...sometimes whole series.  I think it's a great promotional tool.

                  • Re: Publishers need to take note: Free stuff & library lending = more sales

                    Not to mention, I just bought a book that I found in the library, but I wanted to read and re-read on my own...had it not been for the library, then I would not have bought this...same thing with the free books...I've added to my collection that I would have just ignored had I not been given the first book for free (The Susan Wiggs series to be exact, not my usual fare, but I ended up purchasing up to the 8th book of the Willow Lake series)...


                    Oh, and giving out a free sample(and not a page or two but a few large chapters) helps too.  I'm amazed that this isn't the norm now (no, I don't always want them in my Nook but to preview on my computer, even if I'm buying the DTB).  I know of a few books that have hooked me that way (The Passage comes to mind, and yes, I payed the full price)