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Old 03-14-2011, 09:53 AM   #1
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Did Read an E-Book week hurt sales?

I am wondering whether anyone else is seeing a slowdown in sales since read an e-book week? It makes perfect sense to me that the event could reduce sales for a time. I know that I picked up several free e-books (that normally cost money) without really trying. I'm sure that someone who was seeking them out might have easily stocked up on 20-30+. Wouldn't that mean that these readers would have to get through a large TBR list prior to contemplating a new purchase? Maybe I'm just trying to explain away a downward sales trend that I'm seeing, but I'm curious whether anyone else has noticed an impact on their sales.
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Old 03-14-2011, 10:57 AM   #2
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Actually, it may have hurt sales in more ways than you think. I downloaded significantly more than 30 titles from Smashwords with the 100% off coupon code and have already deleted 10 titles as not worth reading, which means that I won't be buying other books written by their authors. These were books and authors that had interested me based on their description and the reading of a few sample pages, but once I really started reading them, I discovered they were poorly written and clearly not edited. I suspect that others will have similar experiences.
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Old 03-14-2011, 11:05 AM   #3
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I have a massive TBR list just in free public domain ebooks ... and I buy ebooks anyway. And I buy pbooks. I'm reading as fast as I can, but my TBR list is growing faster.
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Old 03-14-2011, 11:52 AM   #4
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Actually, it may have hurt sales in more ways than you think. I downloaded significantly more than 30 titles from Smashwords with the 100% off coupon code and have already deleted 10 titles as not worth reading, which means that I won't be buying other books written by their authors. These were books and authors that had interested me based on their description and the reading of a few sample pages, but once I really started reading them, I discovered they were poorly written and clearly not edited. I suspect that others will have similar experiences.
Well that was bound to happen whether you purchased them or received them for free, right? More so perhaps if you paid for them.
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Old 03-14-2011, 11:53 AM   #5
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For me it certainly won't have hurt my sales since I'm battling some obscurity. My hope was to get some more people looking at my fiction and to get some reviews. It could be argued that at this point I should be giving away all of my short stories, but I have actually had some sales so I don't think I'll do that.
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Old 03-15-2011, 01:58 AM   #6
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Certainly our actual sales suffered badly during the start of the RAEBW promo period, B, (we offered freebies a week early here at MR and in our blog, etc) ... but the were hit only very temporarily.

Oddly enough, during the 'official' week itself, when we saw a fifty-fold increase in site traffic and gave away many hundreds or even thousands of ebooks (not had time to check the numbers yet), our sales from site and those at third-party retail sites actually seem to have greatly increased. We didn't expectt to see that kind of result for some weeks after the promo. Odd, eh? Cheers. Neil

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Old 03-15-2011, 08:21 AM   #7
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Well that was bound to happen whether you purchased them or received them for free, right? More so perhaps if you paid for them.
Not exactly. I wouldn't have purchased any of the books at the current asking price. So the books would have remained on my wishlist until the price dropped or I got tired of waiting for the price to drop. But now that I have "bought" and read the books, I can review them, should I choose to do so. The reviews wouldn't be favorable, which, assuming reviews have any value, further hurt sales.
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Old 03-15-2011, 08:25 AM   #8
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Oddly enough, during the 'official' week itself when we saw a fifty-fold increase in site traffic and gave away many hundreds or even thousands of ebooks (not had time to check the numbers yet), our sales from site and those at third-party retail sites actually seem to have greatly increased. We didn't exept to see that kind of result for some weeks after the promo. Odd, eh?
Neil, I'm not so sure how odd it is. People get into a "shopping frenzy." Years ago I remember reading a marketing study that said if you offer a free item that will get people into the store, they will "buy" the free item but while there look around and buy other goods, too. I know I had to keep reminding myself to not buy additional ebooks from authors I hadn't yet read whose works I was "buying" for free. Smashwords did an excellent job of trying to induce those additional sales by showing on the page where you entered the coupon code all other ebooks by the same author.
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Old 03-15-2011, 08:27 AM   #9
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Interesting. Thanks, Neil. I am starting to think that the formula is to have a book series or catalog of titles, and to periodically give away a book from that set in order to promote the other books. Of course, when you only have one book on the market, like me, that isn't an option. I'm glad that you have had success, though. -B
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Old 03-15-2011, 08:46 AM   #10
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To some extent you are correct it did put a dent in sales however it made up for that in the long run by publicizing the company and their products contributing more in terms of long terms sales then the short term profits. Are you more likely to go back to that electronic store in the future since you saw their products once for $0? An HP executive that I used to work with, he was a contractor for my company, said that HP will do that sort of thing on ocasion to publicize their products. However, HP will do it less often since the company is well known as it is. To a larger extent books sales are off as a whole wether you are talking about electronic or dead wood books.

What appears to be happending is that publishers are raising prices of paper backs with the eventual aim of making paperback and hardbacks cost the same. Years ago a typical hardback cost approximatly $25 and a paperback typically went for $8. While the harbacks are still typically that price the paperbacks prices have been skyrocketing with the intriduction of the premium paperback, which has no added value, is typically priced at $10. Publishers have been saying recently that they intend to raise paperback prices to around $14 with the aim of raising them to $25 such that paperbacks and hardbacks will cost the same. Customers have reacted by doing two things, stop buying all together lowering overall sales of books as a whole and buying more non-premium paperbacks which are still $8 but are getting harder to find. Myself I have a limit of $8 on the books that I buy as well as never paying equal or more for an electronic book then the dead wood book. An electronic book is required to cost less then its dead wood counter part.
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Old 03-15-2011, 11:06 AM   #11
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Publishers have been saying recently that they intend to raise paperback prices to around $14 with the aim of raising them to $25 such that paperbacks and hardbacks will cost the same. Customers have reacted by doing two things, stop buying all together lowering overall sales of books as a whole and buying more non-premium paperbacks which are still $8 but are getting harder to find.
Citations, please.
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Old 03-15-2011, 01:03 PM   #12
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You would have to ask. I heard someone here tell me these things, will need to see if I can find that reference around here.
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Old 03-15-2011, 01:12 PM   #13
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***Years ago I remember reading a marketing study that said if you offer a free item that will get people into the store, they will "buy" the free item but while there look around and buy other goods, too***

Could well be, Richard. The 'loss-leader' system used for a long time by supermarkets, chains and online retailers is tried and tested and successful. Although that's not at all what we intended, it seems to have come into play here.

***I am starting to think that the formula is to have a book series or catalog of titles, and to periodically give away a book from that set in order to promote the other books.***

Smart thinking, B, and it can be used on a permanent basis and constant promo. If you're a self-publishing author with a single title or a series, the chances of success are good if you have the imagination and energy for constant promotion (just look at Hocking's results through the Kindle store alone).

Many authors are unwilling or feel unable to help promote their own books, so that job always comes down to me in the end at BB, over and above a heavy, editorial, etc, workload.

It's a little more difficult for a wee house like ours, you see, because we always have around 120 individual titles and so many authors to push on a tight budget. That's why our RAEBW promo opened the entire catalogue to requests (and we always sent more books that were asked for because it's not too difficult to judge reader taste from a short email and the choices s/she originally makes.

What we'd expected was a sales crash that might be more than compensated for over coming weeks or months by the increased exposure of the house and its excellent authors. In spite of what Richard suggests above, it's still something of a mystery to me that it didn't work out that way and that we actually saw sales rise during freebie week. We didn't actively encourage folks to buy -- just to take a free taste and then make up their minds.

We're not complaining, though.

And something else that surprised me was that some of our ebooks with the lowest sales so far were up among the most popular requested give-aways. How do you explain that?

Thanks folks. This is a fascinating thread. So special thanks to B for opening it. Best wishes. Neil

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Old 03-15-2011, 02:26 PM   #14
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I always have books for sale and short story collections for free on my site. During Read an E-Book Week this year, I didn't discount or give away a single book. My promotion encouraged people to either buy any book or respond to a simple question about a particular book.

As has happened every year, sales of my books went up during Read an E-Book Week. (Not enough to pay off the house, mind you... or even to make a single month's mortgage payment... but still.)

Everyone I sell to goes on a list to get semi-regular newsletters from me, and many of those people will buy each new book I release (next one's due this summer!). So I've made more potential customers thanks to the attention of Read an E-Book Week, and expect to see a subsequent rise in sales over time.

That part is key: It doesn't matter if you have fewer sales in that particular week, if it earns you more customers who will come back and buy in later weeks.
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Old 03-15-2011, 08:40 PM   #15
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Your promo was particularly smart Steven, in that people had to buy and read to answer the questions that could win them the prizes ... and the choice of e-ink watches was a stroke of genius for an ebook reading community where so many are in love with e-ink technology. Quite brilliant. I'm glad you saw such an immediate and impressive sakes increase. Warms to old cockes does that. Raising my 2.00am nightcap now, Steven, to your continued success, Well deserved, chum. Bestests. Neil
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