The glut of free Kindle books- good or bad?
Anyone who buys (or sells) ebooks on Amazon should be familiar with the free book list that is ever-growing. See this link for the top 100. On any given day you can find thousands of fiction and non-fiction novels available to download without having to pay anything for them. It’s almost impossible to wade through it all and to do so regularly would require more time than most of us have. I did find one site that will send out daily emails listing only the ones they think might have the potential to be good reads. That has made things a little easier when I’m looking for something different and want to discover new authors. Yet I worry about what such a plethora of free books is doing to the rest of the paid market.
If readers (who don’t mind wading through some of the less than stellar novels to find the gems) are loading all these books then they have less reason to buy any. In my case, if I view the updated lists every day for a week and only pick the books that really sound interesting, I’ll still end up with at least 10 or more. Any longer than that and I’ll end up with more than I can read in a month. It also causes me to not give authors as much of a chance as before. Should the intro for their novel not grab me, I’ll drop it without a second glance. Hey, it’s free, so I didn’t lose anything but fifteen to twenty minutes of my day (maybe less than that). With so many to check out, I don’t have time to waste on anything that doesn’t show great potential right off the bat. That also means I won’t be checking on any of their other books.
On the other hand, I have found free books that were great and went on to buy more from those authors. The freebies worked in those cases. I have to admit it has taken me away from checking out as many of the .99 to 2.99 novels I used to look at with more regularity. The thing is, at least I’m willing to buy indie/small pub books. There are a lot of readers out there who have been burned by bad writing and won’t touch them unless they’re free (and maybe not even then). More and more, I’m thinking the glut of freebies isn’t doing anyone any favors these days with there being so many (except, maybe, those that want to cut costs on their reading habits).
Nearly every author I know has put at least one book on the free list at some point in the last few months, particularly since the KDP select program started. They only get a few days to try to get their novel up the ranks and most don’t get far. There just isn’t enough time for readers to find them with all the others listed. Despite the limited time they have for their individual give-away, it still seems like the number of free books grows all the time. I wonder how much this is really cutting into sales of free books. Not only that, but it could cause an even lower standard in writing. If you pretty much have to give away thousands of your books to try to gain a decent readership, it makes it hard to spend money on editing for your work. It wouldn’t surprise me if even the big publishers are being hurt by the free program. I’ve noticed some of them are now using it to get notice for their authors. Yet it may not help them much either when there is so much competition around.
This is a topic I could go on and on about, but I’ll stop there. I would like to hear other people’s thoughts on the free program and how it is working for them. As readers, do you take advantage of the free books? If so, what do you think of it? For the authors, how well has it worked for you? In recent months have you found giving away your books for a short period of time helps later with sales, or not? Please feel free to leave your thoughts.
~ by Suzie on May 9, 2012.