Originally Posted by leebase
I've bought some Baen books only to see later that they were already free -- or were free a short time after I bought them. Why would I continue to buy what is going to be available for free -- and honestly so? Why not read the Baen book that's free -- and then spend money on the Tor book I want to read that's not free?
Anywhoo -- it does puzzle me. I get Eric Flint's point about the "opacity" of the book market being far more worrisome than theft. I totally agree that DRM is little good and a lot of bad. But I just think if _I_ were an author, my LATEST works would not be free for a year or so, or until, perhaps, they were my 3rd or 4th latest book.
Baen is sharply aware of their customer base, and the fact that science fiction fans mostly *don't* buy new books. Oh, some do... but new SF readers are often teenagers, who can't afford new books (or can't afford more than the occasional new paperback), or people who get a book from a friend or a yard sale.
Baen is currently counting on free ebooks subsidizing print sales. And it's working. Eventually, when print becomes an archaic method of story-sharing, they'll need a new model--but that day is nowhere near as close as some ebook fanatics think. (We forget, we cutting-edge technophiles, that the majority of the *planet* doesn't have electricity. And while the majority of the english-speaking world does, that doesn't mean any significant number of them are eager to hand over books for screens.)
I'm sure they're aware that some customers will be annoyed at paying for something they discover they could've legitimately gotten for free. They're counting on the price being low enough that those customers are just annoyed, not angry enough to stop buying from them--that they react with "well, that was stupid of me" rather than "those bastards at Baen cheated me by hiding the free version."
Baen is counting on the idea that, if people *approve* of them, and like their books, they'll sell enough books to survive and grow, no matter how many free books are available. Baen is counting on "happy customer" being a strong enough selling point to overcome the appeal of "free stuff."
So far, it's working.
Yes, with a bit of effort, you can probably get every book in Baen's shop for free--about half of them legitimately, the rest through torrents. And there are people who do so. And Baen has decided not to waste its efforts trying to stop those people, but instead, convincing the ones who know they could, that they'd rather shop at webscriptions.
More ethical, support the authors, legit copy in all the formats, etc. Plenty of reasons to buy instead of pirate, or even instead of getting a legit free copy. And Baen makes it unimportant which reason matters to you; they're not waving around guilt or threats or usability as The Big Reason.
They're trying to be the digital version of the corner bookshop, the ones that have almost all closed down because of the mega-stores. "Come buy from us instead of scrounging at yard sales; buy from us instead of waiting for the library copy; buy from us instead of borrowing from your friend and worrying about getting coffee stains on it." (Or, the digital equivalent: Buy from us instead of downloading a torrent, hoping there's no virus, and reading a crappy letter-sized plaintext PDF.)