Monday, October 25, 2010

Free ebooks - Are they on to something?

By Kevin

Before I write my post, let me introduce myself!

My name is Kevin Smith. And I'm a writer. I know, sounds somewhat like the introduction to a WA meeting. (writer's anonymous?) This is my first post in the Cove. But worry not, there will be many more! Yay! (I hope I hear the sounds of celebrating... either that or indigestion.)

I'm currently working on a mid-grade sci-fi novel. And... it's almost done! micro-edits! Of course I did just have another idea to add in. Hmm... may take more than a micro-edit...

Ahem. ebooks. Free.

My phone is a Droid X. I love it. It has games, an 8 megapixel camera, 720p HD video recording, and apps. Apps and apps! And one of the best apps? Kindle!

Now I know some of you are thinking to yourself "ugh, give me a nice paper book any day!" I would have agreed but... I can read anywhere, anytime. And do I need to remember to bring my book to do so? Or lug around a large hardback book? (I love hardbacks. However, they tend to be a bit on the large side.) No...

I just need to have my phone with me! I carry my phone everywhere. I'm one of those people who twitch violently when I can't answer my phone to see who it is. I know, kinda silly. Growing up it was like this: The phone rings. All children in the house rush to be the one to answer it, tripping over each other and otherwise causing bruises and beatings. I know there are other homes where all the children stare at each other. "You get it." "No, you, I did last time!"

I twitch then too.

So amazon offers some free books. Many of them are classics, which is fabulous. I now have Frankenstein on my phone! But others are books that are, for whatever reason, discounted to free. Some of them even have 4 1/2 stars! I've come across a few that are the first book in a series. So I do what every free-loving person would do.

I download them all.

I still have a bunch to reach, but have, so far, read approximately 3 of them. And I'm finding myself looking up the rest of the series in the hope that they are free. However, sadly, they are not. But after having read a good first book, how can I not read the rest?

I think more authors should consider this type of advertisement. It is another way to get their series into the hands of those that might otherwise not read it.

Of course, I only see this from my point of view.

What think ye?

Follow me on Twitter! @kevinmichsmith


  1. Welcome, Kevin! So glad you could join us here at the Cove. :) Well, yes, I love books. I love their smell. Their clean pages with contrasting print. I love to flip through pages. I love to carry them around with me. I love to collect them. See them lining neatly along my many bookshelves.

    I do know what you mean, though. I would consider marketing my book electronically as well. (I wonder how the E wave would do it for author signings???) Hmmmm...


    Just because I'm an old fashioned kinda gal, doesn't mean I would close myself off to more revenue.

    Thanks for the wonderful seed you planted.

    ~Elizabeth :)

  2. Kevin, welcome to the Cove! I really enjoyed your blog. It's going to be interesting to see the way things change in the next year or two. I've always been an old fashioned 'book in the hand' sort of person, but I can see the possibilities. All kids are hardwired to have something electronic in their hands at all times. Most adults are becoming converted, too. It's definitely food for thought. And hey, who can resist free books?

  3. Welcome aboard, Kevin! Glad that you've finally seen fit to try yer hand at bloggin' at the cove.

    I don't know if you're familiar with Schlock Mercenary, but the man who writes that web comic makes a living off the "stuff for free" model. Anyone can read his web comic every day for absolutely free. But then loyal fans, like my husband, happily pay good money to own copies of the anthologies.

    Everyone likes free stuff. It's a good way to get people to try new things.

    But I wouldn't want to offer my books for free in any format until after I've been published through traditional means.

  4. Hey, Kevin! Welcome to the cove. I don't have an e-reader of any sort, but I want one. That doesn't mean I won't buy printed books, it just means I'll buy both. Who can ever have enough books?

  5. Hi, Kevin! Great post. I love my traditional books, but I am also begging for a Kindle/Nook/whatever for Christmas. As far as my own books go...tough question. E versions would be great, but I don't think I would want to put them out there for free until after the printed version has been out for a bit.

  6. Welcome Kevin! Another MG SF writer, yay!

    I have a Nook and love it. The only bad thing I've found is that I can't have my book signed (I'm going to see Scott Westerfeld tonight, and I think I'm going to have him sign my Nook cover!). Seriously, LOVE e-books.

    However the FREE thing is another issue. I think e-books should be appropriately priced (hello? The same price as a hardback? Um, no). But using FREE as an enticement to buy more - well, that's what sneak peeks are for. And there's a lot of people that think everything should be free, to them anyway. Those people are called pirates, and in spite of our pirate-loving ways here at the Cove, any actual e-book pirates earn my scorn.

    People are free to market any way they wish, so I wouldn't object to any sort of low-priced or free marketing gambit to get someone to buy your books. Joe Konrath makes an excellent case for an author making more money overall at a lower price point. But in the end, I hope to write something that people will value enough to want to spend some of their hard-earned cash on.

    Thanks for a great post!!

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  8. Heya, Kevin. Have you checked out the Baen library ( They give out dozens of books for free to hook readers into buying more from the series. It's not a bad business plan. Some of their hard covers even come with a CD-ROM filled with all their most current free ebooks. I just snag the epub versions and load them into iBooks or Stanza on my iPhone. Some are only available via a web browser as HTML files. However, their ebooks for sale are only $4-5, which is a very fair price for them, unlike most available through agency pricing.

    For the droid there's Laputa, Nook, Kindle, Kobo, Aldiko, and eReader. I'm sure one of them can read the Baen books. Check it out and let me know what you think.


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