Free: Without Cost or Payment - say what?
I know we've discussed the topic of free books before on Novel Spaces, but I'm starting to see the benefit of offering significant deals, including offering a title for free - every now and then.
I've wondered why authors or publishers would only charge $1.99 or $.99 for their titles (actually I have a couple of books offered for $2.99 - and my publisher will offer one of my titles for $1.99 this summer), let alone give them away for free. Just like shopping for clothes or renting a car, we all enjoy a deal, and price does matter. We still charge $20 and $15 and $10 for books and they do sell, especially if a reader really wants that particular book. But when readers are browsing online nowadays, thinking about taking a chance on a title that piques their interest, they are considering price more than ever, especially when they can get immediate gratification and have it delivered at the click of a mouse.
The question has been, does lowering that price or offering it for free devalue our works? After all, though we are in this for the love of it, it is a job, a career, and we want to make money so that we can live. Ya gotta eat! We want our hard labor, and our blood, sweat, and tears to pay off monetarily, literary masterpiece or not.
When it comes to ebooks, especially books that are only in the ebook format where print book versions are not available, and/or ebooks that have been out for a few years, to offer it for free for a short period of time can mean that readers who have not read our titles can have an opportunity to try our works and perhaps come back for more.
The concept of giving to receive may or may not come easy to some authors when it comes to offering books for free. Are the long terms benefits worth it? Or should we just give away ebooks every now and then because it's the good natured thing to do? I keep printed copies of my books in my car and hand them out for free, quite often. Not to mention giveaway promotions. It becomes an investment in the belief that the reader will tell someone who will tell someone, and so on. But free books on a major website like Amazon is something different.
I'd be interested in hearing what my fellow authors think. Are you ready to hop on the gratis bandwagon?