Are Amazon Free Ebooks Becoming Extinct?
I was combing through the Digital Book World Site when I came upon this article by Jeremy Greenfield: Is Amazon Killing the Free Ebook? I was pulled into the conversation and had to know why or how Amazon would be in a position to kill something that intrinsically costs nothing in the first place.
“On the author side, there is a belief that giving away Ebooks for free is a great way to ultimately generate sales.”
Apparently authors have been using the Amazon platform to “sell” free Ebooks for years. More amazing is the fact that using the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP to people in the know) rating system actually begins to increase the Ebook and author visibility as more and more “customers” download the work for free. After the Ebook has been in the “market” for enough time to pull the ratings down, then the authors switch the title into a paid format and the Ebook becomes a sellable entity with a rating that more times than not will generate a good revenue stream for the author.
Garage Band Marketing
I may be off the mark here, but this reminds me of rock bands in the 1960’s and 1970’s who gave demo tracks to radio stations so that they could gain an audience. The “Garage” Band phenomenon was instrumental in getting many acts in the Rock Era into the mainstream mindset and culture of the album buying public. This is a way to build market share and fan loyalty so that the first tour does not play to an arena filled with chirping crickets. This same process could be a good marketing strategy for Ebooks, and apparently has already worked quite well for some authors. The old Field of Dreams theory (“If You Build It, They Will Come”) does not always work when the widget has no proponent to sing the praises on the consumer stage.
Free is Good for Business
Giving content for free, and in some cases giving the best content for free, has no less a proponent than Michael A. Stelzner. In his book: Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition, Stelzner had this to say about the marketing practice of giving free content:
“When you give away great content, you provide your base something they desire, drawing them closer to you.”
The trust you build and loyalty in your brand will be evident as the individuals searching for your content will be repeat consumers and look to you as the field leader.
The Amazon Shift and Repercussions
Will this lack of free Ebooks have a detrimental impact on authors looking to take advantage of the KDP rating system? My answer to this question would be to pose another question that I do not think has been answered: Is Amazon going to be in control of the overall pricing structure, or just mandating that “free” Ebooks will no longer be supported through affiliate downloads? If only the free Ebooks are going away, then my suggestion would be to lookout for the $.01 Ebook that will replace it. Charging fewer pennies is how William Randolph Hearst made a fortune, why not the Ebook authors of today?