News released Thursday that Liberty Media was privately selling off the majority of it’s investment with the struggling book store chain, Barnes & Noble, rekindled a question that has been niggling at the back of my mind. Are authors and publishers helping or hurting the book market by offering freebies and giveaways?
Let me start off by saying that I am a writer and an avid reader. So I am considering my own purchasing practices as I write this. The writer in me understands why we do it. With the hopes of expanding our readership, exposure to our work or gain more reviews it proves to be an irresistible and maybe necessary part of marketing for our books. The competition is overwhelming and growing daily.
What I’ve noticed recently is, a swamped market of freebies and books selling for $.99. It’s not just independent authors either. More and more New York Times and USA Today Best Sellers are offering their books for free on Amazon and other places as well. The market is so swamped that even the Best Sellers are getting very few taking advantage of their freebies.
When so many books are available to consumers for free or at a dramatically reduced price, why would they pay $10-$15 for a paperback when there is more than enough to choose from in the free or $.99 ebook bin? I know. I know. “You get what you pay for.” Or those books are not of the same quality as those selling for more. To that I’ll remind you, there are Best Selling authors books in that bin too.
I guess my question boils down to this, are we as authors collectively undervaluing the works -that often take a year or more to complete- of our fellow writers? Are we driving down prices? What does expanding our fan base really do if readers become unwilling to spend more than $.99 for any of our future releases? Is this practice hurting us in the long run?
This issue goes far beyond every authors dream to show up on the bookshelves of brick and mortar bookstores. It even goes beyond the paperback vs. ebook debate. This affects the sales of books (ebook or otherwise) as a whole.
I would love to hear some feedback on this topic and welcome any comments or discussion.