Author Scott Sigler is something of a trailblazer when it comes to online fiction, having self-produced and distributed his first books as free episodic audio podcasts. This gained him such a big following that one of the many publishers that had rejected him in the past suddenly sat up and took notice.
Crown Books is releasing Sigler’s next novel, INFECTED, but before doing so they’ve released a free pdf to download…but only for 4 days.
As Cory points out:
“Worse still: Crown is only making the download available before the book goes on sale! This is an act of massive goofiness. Here’s what this means: the book’s promotional download period ends before you can buy the book. If you download this book and love it, you can’t walk down to the bookstore and pick up a copy. Sure, you can pre-order it on Amazon, but I know from watching my affiliate link payments here on Boing Boing that ten times as many of you buy books that are on sale when I blog them than buy books that have to be pre-ordered. The Internet exists in an eternal NOW, and expecting someone who downloads a book to hold onto the impulse to buy it for four days is so unrealistic, it makes me suspect that this strategy was conceived of by someone who doesn’t actually use the Internet.”
I am with Cory here. I don’t understand Crown’s strategy at all. The theory behind putting out a free ebook alongside a for-fee print edition is that some people have found that it actually increases the sales of the print edition. It sounds a little counter-intuitive but there are plenty of reasons for this to be true.
A free edition is snapped up by the most hardcore fans who will be most likely to spread the word to the wider circle of readers needed to build satisfactory sales figures. A free edition is downloaded by a curious reader who would probably never pay to read the book but, having read this one for free and liked it is much more likely to go buy other titles from the same author.
If you believe this to be true, why release it for only 4 days? That’s not even enough time for word to spread properly that it exists at all. Not only that, but what is the legal status of the pdf that is now out on the internet. Will I be in trouble if I download it now and then send it someone else to read after the 4-day period is over?
This kind of behavior from big companies totally baffles me. I’d think they had some kind of consultants or maybe even just a smart intern to point out the flaws in their plan.
I mean, they could have just called me. I’m always happy to lend a hand.