Originally Posted by silasgreenback
I don't see why giving ebooks away wouldn't bolster Baen's bottom line and that of authors' far into the future.
Baen's gimmick strategy has been working for Amazon for some time now. I've bought several books by authors I'd likely have never heard of because one of their titles were free.
You're overlooking the fact that this "strategy" is meant to create a dominate position in the marketplace, not to create a consumer-friendly, sustainable model.
Of course Baen didn't start out to create a gimmick; it really does drive print sales. But the print side is being quickly overtaken by digital, something I know for a fact that they did not expect. Everyone from Steve Jobs to Bill Gates predicated that the Kindle--and by extension, ebooks--would be a failure because, as Jobs said in 2007, "People just don't read anymore."
Right. So what Baen is discovering is their strategy has actually resulted in them putting a proverbial "no value" stamp on digital copies of many of their books that were previously given away for free. You'll begin to see them charging for all titles now, sooner or later, so that a case cannot be made later that the free ebooks were not a statement on their part that digital editions have no intrinsic value by themselves--a case I have heard made by a number of publishing executives, in-person, several times over the past few years.
This is a complex issue, and much of it hinges on the future structure of copyright law.