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Old 03-02-2008, 06:41 AM   #1
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Post Old Mans War--effect of free ebook on sales

The next to last free ebook passed out by Tor was Old Mans War by John
Scalzi. He has a lengthy comment on it here with a great number of
comments from readers.

http://scalzi.com/whatever/?p=432

His overall impression is that the free ebook has caused an INCREASE
in sales. Sort of the effect of a 'loss-leader' that brings shoppers
into a supermarket or store and gets them interested in other items
which they will pay for.

That seems to be borne out in many of the comments on his page.

A great number of readers went out and bought the paper book, and some bought others as well.
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Old 03-02-2008, 08:20 AM   #2
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Well, duh, Mr. Scalzi. Baen demonstrated the connection between free ebooks and increased pbook sales over 5 years ago.
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Old 03-02-2008, 10:10 AM   #3
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As Cory Doctorow has said before, the problem for authors isn't piracy - it's obscurity.

In my case, I no longer bother with any "new" (from my point of view) author unless:
1. The author has some sort of web presence.
2. I am able to get, for free, some of the author's work. Sort of a "free sample" to let me decide if the author's works are something that I am interested in.
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Old 03-02-2008, 10:21 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rlauzon View Post
As Cory Doctorow has said before, the problem for authors isn't piracy - it's obscurity.

In my case, I no longer bother with any "new" (from my point of view) author unless:
1. The author has some sort of web presence.
2. I am able to get, for free, some of the author's work. Sort of a "free sample" to let me decide if the author's works are something that I am interested in.
That is exactly right! Sample chapters are ok, but many a time I have bought a book after reading some sample chapters only to find out that the book fizzles out.
I definitely base what I buy on authors that I know and like. Baen has done an excellent job in exposing their authors with their free library and their prices on other books are some of the lowest around.
I hope TOR and others pick up on this.

Johnny
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Old 03-02-2008, 10:46 AM   #5
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I liked his book " Old Mans War " but cant find the rest of the series as ebooks? C.F.Tall
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Old 03-02-2008, 11:39 AM   #6
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I Don't think it has been released as ebooks.... yet. It stands to reason that when the Tor ebooks store goes out we will see both his books and Sanderson's eReleased. At least that what I think.
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Old 03-02-2008, 01:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bookwormfjl View Post
That is exactly right! Sample chapters are ok, but many a time I have bought a book after reading some sample chapters only to find out that the book fizzles out.
I definitely base what I buy on authors that I know and like. Baen has done an excellent job in exposing their authors with their free library and their prices on other books are some of the lowest around.
Exactly.

Baen was promoting authors, and figured the best way to do that was offer complete books from the backlist. People would read a few books, decide they liked the author, and buy the author's next book in hardcover when it was issued. The author's backlist saw a gratifying sales jump, too.

Quote:
I hope TOR and others pick up on this.
You may assume Tor is aware of it. Tor CEO Tom Doherty used to be Jim Baen's boss at Ace Books when Tom was publisher and Jim was editor, and they stayed friends and in touch when Jim set up his own shop. Tor actually had a deal to offer content via Baen's Webscriptions program for a bit, till someone in the Holtzbrink parent company nixed the plan because DRM would not be used.

I'd heard Holtzbrink changed it's mind on DRM, but I don't know the current status of the Baen/Tor deal.

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Johnny
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Old 03-02-2008, 01:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMcCunney View Post
Exactly.

Baen was promoting authors, and figured the best way to do that was offer complete books from the backlist. People would read a few books, decide they liked the author, and buy the author's next book in hardcover when it was issued. The author's backlist saw a gratifying sales jump, too.

You may assume Tor is aware of it. Tor CEO Tom Doherty used to be Jim Baen's boss at Ace Books when Tom was publisher and Jim was editor, and they stayed friends and in touch when Jim set up his own shop. Tor actually had a deal to offer content via Baen's Webscriptions program for a bit, till someone in the Holtzbrink parent company nixed the plan because DRM would not be used.

I'd heard Holtzbrink changed it's mind on DRM, but I don't know the current status of the Baen/Tor deal.

______
Dennis
The last I've heard is that it's back with the lawyers and we should hear the results in Q2. As to Tom Doherty's personal beliefs on DRM and free e-books it should be remembered that he owns 1/3 of Baen so if he had a real problem with that he likely would have pulled his money out.

I do agree that the real benefit of free e-books comes from what it does to publicize authors.
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Old 03-02-2008, 02:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lemurion View Post
"I'd heard Holtzbrink changed it's mind on DRM, but I don't know the current status of the Baen/Tor deal."

The last I've heard is that it's back with the lawyers and we should hear the results in Q2.
That will be good.

Quote:
As to Tom Doherty's personal beliefs on DRM and free e-books it should be remembered that he owns 1/3 of Baen so if he had a real problem with that he likely would have pulled his money out.
Tom wouldn't. He may just be the savviest guy in publishing, and I think it's likely Jim Baen talked to Tom before committing to the Free Library.

Quote:
I do agree that the real benefit of free e-books comes from what it does to publicize authors.
Baen has proved it does.

Jim stated in email a while back that the goal of the Free Library was to promote their pbooks, and he didn't see pure epublishing as a source of profit at the time.

That's changed, and I think he'd be delighted to see the Webscriptions program doing as well as it has been.
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Old 03-02-2008, 09:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMcCunney View Post
... Baen was promoting authors, and figured the best way to do that was offer complete books from the backlist. People would read a few books, decide they liked the author, and buy the author's next book in hardcover when it was issued. The author's backlist saw a gratifying sales jump, too....
Well, it worked on me. I discovered a few authors that I had missed over the years including the late Keith Laumer.
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Old 03-02-2008, 09:56 PM   #11
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Well, it worked on me. I discovered a few authors that I had missed over the years including the late Keith Laumer.
Worked for me, too, as it got me reading some authors I'd heard of but hadn't yet tried.

Laumer wasn't one of those: I'd been aware of him and reading his stuff long before the Free Library (and before Baen Books existed, for that matter.) I knew him slightly before he died, and frankly, his death was a mercy. He'd suffered a massive stroke a few years previous. He'd reached the point where he could get around with a cane (and credited acupuncture more than medicine with that level of recovery), but the stroke had damaged the sections of the brain that moderate behavior. The pre-stroke Laumer was a courtly, old fashioned gentleman. The post-stroke Laumer was a nasty, embittered soul prone to violent rages who alienated many people who had been his friends because they just couldn't deal with him any more. He continued to write after the stroke, but the work never matched his previous output.

At his peak, Laumer was one of the best in the field, and one of a very few authors whose work has made me cry. Even mediocre Laumer was better than many writer's good stuff. If he hadn't suffered the stroke and had remained in good health, I think he'd be considered one of the established SF Grand Masters today.

As it is, I'm happy to see Baen returning his stuff to print, so new generations can discover it. There's a lot of stuff like that for which the Free Library is a natural fit. The Free Library may just wind up becoming classic SF's backlist.
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Old 03-02-2008, 10:06 PM   #12
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I remember being a big fan of Keith Laumer when I was much younger; loved the Retief and Bolo stories. Ultimax Man was the first book he finished post-stroke and the first one I didn't care for.

At his best, he was brilliant
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