Monday, 19 November 2012
Do you collect free eBooks or read them?
There is a question doing the rounds in the writing world at the moment - do you collect free eBooks or read them? In other words, do you collect free eBooks because they are free or because you want to read them? I am sure that most readers fall somewhere in the middle - some they wanted to read and some they downloaded because they didn't cost anything. But how many of those falling into the second group were actually read?
Currently, I have 34 books on my Kindle. Of the 34, 19 were free. Most of the 19 were downloaded not just because I wanted to read them but because I was wanted to help the author push their eBook up the bestseller lists. I want to make it clear I would never download anything I had no intention of reading, but I will do everything I can to help promote a friend's book. I am also a real book reader at heart. Nothing beats the feel of a book in my hands. So, when I sit down to read at night, given a choice between a book or an eBook, I will usually choose the book. This probably explains why out of the 19 free eBooks, I have thus far only read ten. Some of those unread free eBooks have been on my Kindle for months.
As someone who is launching my first eBook collection in February 2013, I know this is an attitude I need to change. According to Amazon the sales of eBooks have tripled over the last year. They are here to stay, and I am sure there will come a time in the future when physical books will be a thing of the past, just like vinyl and cassette tapes are to my generation.
But if people really are collecting free eBooks and not necessarily reading them, what is the point of offering them for free? The obvious reason is marketing - pushing your eBooks into the top 100 bestsellers list guarantees they will be noticed. Hopefully, most of the people who download your book will read it. If it is good enough they will be more likely to buy your next book. Or, like myself, they will go out and buy the paperback versions, as I have done with Martin T. Ingham's Guns of Mars and Alex J. Cavanaugh's CassaStar.
Offering a free eBook, if only for a limited period, does offer benefits. You just have to hope those benefits outweigh offering your book for nothing. But that leads us onto whether offering your book for nothing or at a low price devalues your work, and that is a topic for a whole other post.
So, what are your thoughts on this? Have you read every free eBook you've downloaded? If not, why? How do you feel about authors offering their books for free? Have you offered your eBooks for free and how does it make you feel knowing they may not have all been read? As always, I'd love to know your thoughts on what I am sure is a controversial subject.