Amazon Select and the future of eBooks
Libby Fischer Hellmann wrote an interesting post today on some of the potential repercussions of Amazon’s new Select program–where Amazon Select members can borrow up to one book a month and authors have the option of making the book free for certain periods in order to (hopefully) boost sales. The big downside seems to be that readers might be waiting for freebies rather than buying when books are not free.
As a newly self-published author with one book on Amazon and modest downloads (yet!) my mouth waters at Ms. Hellmann’s numbers. However, it is ominous so see what the trend might be. I myself have downloaded free books I would not pay for. And I have not yet read one that has changed my mind about buying more by the author–but perhaps that, too, will change. And the rest of the world might be different.
My approach is to keep the book cheap—but legacy publishers are not going to do that. And established authors shouldn’t have to. A lot of time, work and expense has gone into most of the books you see on Amazon, and the cost does not always reflect the value. The author is frequently trying to make the work affordable in order to attract readers.
I hope that eBooks are not taking the same route as content on news sites. Originally news sites tried to charge but people simply wouldn’t pay. So news sites gave content away free with the hopes that people would subscribe. Now that many people get their news from the web, more news sites try are trying to charge again but the expectation has been set that information should be free. Hence the quality of some of our news.
You do indeed get what you pay for.