I’ve been running into these articles of late – two so far – about authors disliking this trend of free ebooks. Their concerns seem justified to my amateur ears. Other authors agree with them of course and chime in. How about a reader’s opinion on the dearth of free ebooks out there? How do we feel about it? I’ll start. First, I think free ebooks as a promotional tool to introduce readers to new writers is a great idea. Second, I don’t think every book should be priced free – new writer or not. If it’s good the book will sell but finding those readers is the problem and goes beyond the scope of my short article. Last, I’m not always drawn to free ebooks and don’t feel the need to download them every time they are offered to me by new writers especially. However, I know some readers who do want free ebooks. If it’s free they are downloading it. Whether they read it or not is another thing entirely though. With the economy the way that it is, books are a “want” not a “need.”
In the digital age, everyone seems to be an author these days and have something to say and offer it for free. Sorry authors but that’s your competition for the short attention span of readers. The takeaway I get from the articles is that there’s no financial benefit to offering free ebooks to readers even if it’s for the purpose of discovery. I’ve always been told that no author likes to stay in obscurity hence the dilemma to game the system. I would think the free promotion would serve to find your readership. Once you do that then you can up the price. But your colleagues who are gaming the system just so they can be on the Amazon top 100 list are your biggest problem not the readers. BTW, I hardly look at that list.
Thus the takeaway is that these authors don’t like the trend of selling their books for free. Simple answer to that is then don’t. If your work is good and you are offering a quality product then by all means put a price on it. If it’s good then readers will buy it. If it’s not then they won’t. I really don’t have much patience for writers who complain about this practice yet take part in it. Of course Amazon is the bad guy at the end of it all:
The big winner in this free to low-price market is Amazon. Its ability to showcase a truckload of bargains under one roof is driving readers away from traditional book stores straight into their clutches. It might only be a matter of time before this migration becomes a monopoly!
I will be mean and say that some books should stay hidden from readers… forever. I’ve been reading for nearly 20+ years and am more jaded/cynical than most. My thoughts are probably not the norm either. Free means nothing to this reader unless it’s coming from someone I already read and enjoy or by word of mouth.