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Old 01-27-2013, 07:57 AM   #1
HarryT
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Question about "Baen Monthly Bundles" thread.

A question for those who participate in the "Baen Monthly Bundles" threads. I see many people who seem to use these threads to get free bundles, month after month, but I was under the impression that Baen intended these "buy one, give it away to someone" deals to be used only by new customers who had never before bought from Baen. Isn't this use of "throwaway" accounts at Baen going against the spirit, even if not the letter, of the use that Baen intend these deals to be used for? Baen are one of the "good guys" of the ebook industry - it seems wrong to me to be taking advantage of them in this way.
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:11 AM   #2
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Maybe, Harry, but I have bought a lot of books from Baen after getting a free book in a bundle through these threads. Often by an author I wouldn't otherwise have tried. On the whole they are making more out of me this way than by not giving the possibility of allowing the chain.
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:14 AM   #3
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Baen knows about it. It's been discussed on Baen's Bar. There were no official comments made in the discussion. I think they could stop it fairly easily if they wanted to. There are even chains set up on the Bar, though they usually only run three or four deep before there are no takers. I wondered if the changes to the way the old bundles are being sold (or not being sold) isn't partially a reaction to the chains of free bundles. It time limits them to only a couple of months before the paper releases.

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Old 01-27-2013, 08:47 AM   #4
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Maybe, Harry, but I have bought a lot of books from Baen after getting a free book in a bundle through these threads. Often by an author I wouldn't otherwise have tried. On the whole they are making more out of me this way than by not giving the possibility of allowing the chain.
But that's precisely their intended use - to introduce to Baen a new customer such as you who hasn't previously bought from them. What I'm talking about are people who repeatedly create new accounts at Baen for the specific purpose of getting the free bundle. That seems very wrong to me.
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Old 01-27-2013, 09:39 AM   #5
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You don't need to create a new account at Baen, the codes work with your existing account, you only need a fresh email address to receive the code. Baen could surely stop that quite easily, but maybe it isn't worth it. Maybe the legitimate new business is enough to offset the exploit.

But yes, ultimately I agree. I don't participate in the chains now I have an account. (Although, OK, I couldn't resist going for two bundles when I signed up.)
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Old 01-27-2013, 10:09 AM   #6
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But that's precisely their intended use - to introduce to Baen a new customer such as you who hasn't previously bought from them. What I'm talking about are people who repeatedly create new accounts at Baen for the specific purpose of getting the free bundle. That seems very wrong to me.
Technically your statement is not correct, people do not create new address' at Baen to get the bundles unless they are a new customer, existing customers use a throw away address then 'buy' the bundle with their existing account.

You are correct that Baen use this to introduce new customers but that is only one use. The giveaways are also classified as sales and for the purposes of attracting new authors or even the evil that is Amazon the volume of sales is a powerful asset.

The majority of users here that use the scheme are as piperclassique, they use the bundle to discover new authors or sample a new series before buying something they may not have bought. Some people, like yourself perhaps, for whatever reason do not wish to take part in the generosity of Baen, you are free not to take part if you think it is wrong. Baen obviously see nothing wrong with it.

There is another group, that people normally do not admit to being in, of people who will take any free gift even if it is of no use to them. I am in that group and proud of it. I have had dozens of books from Planet Baen, which is another way that Baen give away books with even less reason than the bundles. I can not afford to buy books so I take free ones wherever I can, My Baen account has about 300 sales listed though I have only spent $1 with Baen, in this respect Baen are doing better than any other ebook seller as that $1 represents the total I have spent on ebooks in my life.

Rather more contentiously I sit happily in the group that, if there were no free ebooks available, I would go to the dark web and still get them free. I assume you would regard that as so wrong that it might make the bundles thing less wrong - perhaps.

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Old 01-27-2013, 10:12 AM   #7
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The is another group, that people normally do not admit to being in, of people who will take any free gift even if it is of no use to them. I am in that group and proud of it. I have had dozens of books from Planet Baen, which is another way that Baen give away books with even less reason than the bundles. I can not afford to buy books so I take free ones wherever I can, My Baen account has about 300 sales listed though I have only spent $1 with Baen, in this respect Baen are doing better than any other ebook seller as that $1 represents the total I have spent on ebooks in my life.
You can afford a PC to read this message on, and a reading device to read books on, but you're not willing to pay authors for their work in writing the books you enjoy? That's a curious state of affairs. Personally I'm happy to buy the books I read, because by doing so I'm giving those authors the means to carry on writing.
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:30 PM   #8
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You can afford a PC to read this message on, and a reading device to read books on, but you're not willing to pay authors for their work in writing the books you enjoy? That's a curious state of affairs. Personally I'm happy to buy the books I read, because by doing so I'm giving those authors the means to carry on writing.
It may seem odd, but if the giveaways do count as sales (as one previous poster mentioned) then the authors are getting paid. It's Baen that's footing the bill.
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:27 PM   #9
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You can afford a PC to read this message on, and a reading device to read books on, but you're not willing to pay authors for their work in writing the books you enjoy? That's a curious state of affairs. Personally I'm happy to buy the books I read, because by doing so I'm giving those authors the means to carry on writing.
I get both sides of this-- yes, the Baen chains seem to be skirting the intent, although as mentioned there is no doubt that Baen is aware of it and has chosen to not prevent it. Of course, Baen was among the first to advocate that widespread access to a range of free ebooks was a GOOD thing, although I'm certain that there have been times when the practice has gone beyond their intent. The Baen backlist bundle chains were a bit of a quandary for me, and I read several discussions here about it before I decided to participate in some of those chains. I've justified it to myself by thinking of the range of Baen authors that I endlessly recommend to friends. Ironically, I find the current Baen Bundles just barely on the other side of that thin line of justification for me personally (because the focus of the authors seems to have shifted to something I'm less likely to recommend, although this also seems to deprive Baen of the greater potential return of current list over backlist if I DO like/recommend them.)

In my case, there's a difference between "willingness" and "capability" of paying an author. At home, we read a lot. Historically, that's been primarily through our public library system (free to us, other than through our tax support), supplemented by used book stores when budget permits and very occasional treats of a "new" store-bought p-book (birthdays and Christmas, mostly). The rewards I'm able to give the author/publisher are primarily by personal recommendations to those who could afford to buy (and with p-books, the willingness to loan my hard-acquired hard-copy to a friend to get them hooked-- unfortunately a benefit that authors & publishers are losing from me in a lot of ebook instances, since I still haven't quite come to grips with violating their stated intent that they don't want me to lend the ebook-- yes, I do know how.)
Our budget for books has increased over the years, but it's still extremely modest...
Yes, I manage to pay for a computer (an xp machine acquired used for $60 several years ago, that I couldn't justify if it didn't have other uses besides reading), internet access (my big splurge, but also necessary for work), a non-activated phone that functions as an ereader for me ($30), and my wife's Kindle, (saved for that for 2-3 years until the graphs of savings, hardware cost, available budget e-reading material, and Christmas, crossed) .
I buy bargain ebooks when available and budget permits, accept the interesting free ones that I feel I qualify for with gratitude, and try to budget enough money to double the cost of my ebook purchases by donating to the software developers who make it possible (Calibre, the reader I use on my phone,etc.) I'd love it if ebook reading and my ibrary habits worked together a lot better, but that's something that publishers, distributors, and library systems seem to be more committed to screwing up than fixing, so I end up collecting available freebies now against the possibility that I won't have access to other ebook choices later.
I think I would never acquire an ebook from "the dark side", and don't go to extremes to acquire free ebooks that I'm not qualified for. (geographic limitations, restricted to facebook posters, etc.) To be brutally honest, I'm not betting I wouldn't change my mind (about "dark side" options) if I didn't have other options available-- for me, not reading isn't a possibility. Paying what it should be worth to me (priceless) isn't a possibility, either.
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:53 PM   #10
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Baen is obviously benefiting from it, and the few who go out of their way to get the freebies in perpetuity probably don't bother them as much.

I must have downloaded a good 50-60 free library books and then bought others of my husband's favourites. Promotion is good.

I hear the "you can afford a (computer/e-reader/mp3 player/stereo) etc" argument before.

My original motivation for buying an e-reader (which took a while to save for) was pretty much to be able to carry Project Gutenberg's bibliography in my pocket.

I bought a stereo so that I could listen to the radio station with huge speakers. Buying the initial investment doesn't mean you now are chained to handing your wallet over every time you open your ears or eyes
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Old 01-27-2013, 07:20 PM   #11
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I have been wondering that myself and wonder how Baen gives away so many books without going broke! Never got up the nerve to participate in the free bundle threads, but I've got plenty of free coupons from Planet Baen. Funny, though, I have not yet read the books! I have read the first 2 books in the Honor Harrington series, though, the only Baen books I read so far.
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:57 PM   #12
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The bundles are marketing, and as others have noted, since many of us use the same account to claim the codes, what's happening is obvious, especially as it's quite public here and has been discussed on Baen's Bar.

One message from Baen here would pretty much shrivel it up, but they have chosen not to do so. I would assume it's because those redeeming the bundles are also, eventually, making purchases. I redeemed several bundles and then began making purchases myself. We may redeem the bundles of books that are on offer at the moment, but we're then more favorably inclined to purchase those we truly desire. As a marketing tool to build good will with customers, it's worked extraordinarily well with me.
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Old 01-28-2013, 04:06 PM   #13
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One message from Baen here would pretty much shrivel it up, but they have chosen not to do so. I would assume it's because those redeeming the bundles are also, eventually, making purchases.
Good point, Scottken. I've always felt that Baen was turning an intentional blind eye on the process, even if it goes beyond their original stated intent. It was pointed out to me in a previous discussion about why Baen didn't stop the chains if they wanted to (since it seems to be a simple patch to the way the code system works), and the knowledgeable answer was that Baen has a very small (and over-worked) IT department. That said, I think you're right--if Baen posted here that they preferred we not do this, the threads would die away in respect to their wishes.
Although my purchasing budget is small (and Baen material is not the major component of my reading), Baen books that are on my wishlist frequently get moved to the TOP of my "buy" list as a way of saying thanks to the authors and publisher that have done so much to popularize ebooks.
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Old 01-28-2013, 09:59 PM   #14
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I've never participated in those threads but thanks to things like The Fifth Imperium and their own free library, pretty much the only mainstream novels I buy these days are from Baen. Even my Amazon wishlist is full of Baen titles.
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Old 01-29-2013, 02:22 AM   #15
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I never participated in one of those threads because I was already a registered customer. I realised I could probably circumvent, but didn't really want to. I've profited quite handsomely from Baen's generosity in the past and I've only actually purchased a couple of books there before, so they probably haven't made as much out of me as they would have liked. I just felt like not taking that extra step.
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