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What's with "free" e-books?

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message 1: by stormhawk (new)

stormhawk | 542 comments It's like crack ... the first taste is free. The big publishers offer free books to get you hooked on series or authors they are promoting.

Many of the low priced books are the work of independent authors who are working to develop a readership. They do value their work, but want you (and other readers) to find out about them.

Many of them are really good, even if the price is low. Data storage is cheap, printing books is expensive. This is essentially a new business model for publishing, and the traditional publishers haven't quite gotten the hang of it yet.


Ralph Gallagher | 327 comments Mod
There are a lot of factors that go into pricing ebooks. The biggest factor is length. A short story might be priced at $.99 while a 50k novel might be at $7.99. The percentage an author makes off each book also plays into it. If it's self-published through Amazon's Kindle store, you can earn up to 70% of sales. Which means a $.99 book could net the author roughly $.70. But a book published through a publishing house might get the author 30%. Which means the book would need to be priced higher to make money off.

The first book in a series is often given away as a free ebook. It gets readers hooked on the characters and series and leads them to buy the rest of the series. Whereas if the book had cost $9.99, many people would've skipped over it rather than try a new author.


message 3: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (newtomato) Ralph wrote: "If it's self-published through Amazon's Kindle store, you can earn up to 70% of sales. Which means a $.99 book could net the author roughly $.70."

I'm pretty sure if an author wants to go with the 70% model, Amazon requires the minimum price to be $2.99.


message 4: by Sheila (new)

Sheila Parishreader, I would never spend $9.99 on a book like the one you mentioned, from an unknown author. Especially after checking out the reviews here on Goodreads and on Amazon. There were only a few reviews here on goodreads, but every review is a glowing 5 star review, and most people I know here on Goodreads are very selective about giving out 5 stars, so when I see a book with only 5 star reviews here, especially an obscure book from an unknown author, I think it is just the author and the author's friends promoting the book, and I will avoid the book.

In my personal opinion, if this author wanted to get his book known and in the hands of the general public, this is a perfect case for a $.99 kindle read, or even a limited time free giveaway on kindle. Get the book in the hands of a bunch of readers, let them give the book honest reviews, and if it is a true good read then they will talk about it, to their friends and on groups like those here on Goodreads. Once the book gets a small honest following, then he can raise the kindle price.


message 5: by Genia (new)

Genia Stemper | 11 comments As an indie author, I worried readers wouldn't value my work if I gave it away for free, or offered it at a low price. But at the end of the day, what I want is for people to read the book.
Without a marketing machine behind us, the odds are against us indie authors. But by keeping low prices, and offering freebies once in a while, it is possible for us to find a fan base and rely on honest reviews and word of mouth.


message 6: by Clare K. R. (last edited Feb 21, 2011 03:08PM) (new)

Clare K. R. (clare-dragonfly) There are a lot of reasons. I personally think $9.99 is kind of unnecessarily high for an ebook, and prefer cheaper ones (though I'll buy at that price if I really like the sample or the author). Many independent authors feel they make more money selling at low prices, with a higher volume, than they would selling at high prices--even if they're selling at $.99 and only making thirty cents per sale! Independent authors as well as publishers will also start out a series or a new author with low prices to help get people hooked.

Actually, Ralph's numbers are wrong; I believe Amazon offers 70% royalties only for books priced between 2.99 and 9.99 (though it might be 7.99, I can't recall). And on the other hand, traditional publishers are generally offering as royalties 15-20% of the list price.

Besides... isn't it awesome to get great books for really cheap?! That's why I've always loved used book stores, and one reason (of many) that I love my Kindle!


message 7: by ABC (new)

ABC (mary6543) | 14 comments I would like to know the good free books. I have stayed away from them because each "free" books actually costs me $2.00. I don't want to pay $2.00 for a crappy book. I'd rather pay ten bucks for a book that I am pretty sure is quite good.


message 8: by Jen (new)

Jen Halligan (bookandlatte) Kirei wrote: "I would like to know the good free books. I have stayed away from them because each "free" books actually costs me $2.00. I don't want to pay $2.00 for a crappy book. I'd rather pay ten bucks fo..."

Why do you pay $2?! Do you know that you can connect your device to your computer to transfer files, free? I'm confused.


Ralph Gallagher | 327 comments Mod
Jen wrote: "Kirei wrote: "I would like to know the good free books. I have stayed away from them because each "free" books actually costs me $2.00. I don't want to pay $2.00 for a crappy book. I'd rather pa..."

International users are charged an extra fee.


message 10: by Clare K. R. (new)

Clare K. R. (clare-dragonfly) Kirei wrote: "I would like to know the good free books. I have stayed away from them because each "free" books actually costs me $2.00. I don't want to pay $2.00 for a crappy book. I'd rather pay ten bucks fo..."

Isn't that what samples are for?


message 11: by BookAddict (new)

BookAddict  ✒ La Crimson Femme (lacrimsonfemme) Genia wrote: "As an indie author, I worried readers wouldn't value my work if I gave it away for free, or offered it at a low price. But at the end of the day, what I want is for people to read the book.
With..."


Genia, from a reader's perspective, if you are an unknown author to me, and none of my friends have read you, the chances of me purchasing your book is slim to none. If however, you are priced under $4 and its a good length book, not those short 35-90 page ones, then I'll give you a try. If I like it, I'll purchase the rest of your books. Elisa Paige had a discount on one of her books. I wasn't sure about her. I purchased it since the discount for her full length novel came out to be just around $5. After reading that book, I ended up buying all her books at regular price.

Some authors who have given books away for free, I've read and didn't buy any others, because the writing didn't appeal to me. However, others like Maya Banks who did give a free book away, I've purchased almost all her books even in hardcopy which has been pricey.

What I find interesting about Goodreads, is that once a reader in a group likes the book, they will keep repeating it over and over and over again, until most of the people in the group read it. From there, it just kind of takes off.


message 12: by Genia (new)

Genia Stemper | 11 comments Bookaddict
Thank you for the encouragement and for being willing to give new unknown authors a try! We all appreciate it.
My books are always priced at 2.99 and under, and I am offering A Timely Death for free right now with a coupon code through smashwords. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view... is the link to the book, with the coupon of UK54Y if you are interested in taking a look.
I'd love to hear what you think!

Genia Stemper


message 13: by ABC (new)

ABC (mary6543) | 14 comments "Isn't that what samples are for?"

Well, the samples of the really cheap books I have looked at have been crappy!


message 14: by Genia (new)

Genia Stemper | 11 comments Wow, I hope my writing wasn't part of your sampling. You can usually tell from a page or two if you like the writing style. Hang in there, you're bound to find some authors you like at good prices.

Genia Stemper


message 15: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyleigh28) Genia I downloaded your book and am anxious to start it :) Maybe that's what I'll read while I'm at work today.


message 16: by Genia (new)

Genia Stemper | 11 comments Fantastic! Thank you Becky. I look forward to knowing what you think. I really hope you enjoy it....


message 17: by Matt_ketel (new)

Matt_ketel 15 | 6 comments half of the time i am on this site on my kindle and it is horrible how slow it is!!


message 18: by Patricia (new)

Patricia (pg4003) | 243 comments I think as you progress in your Kindle ownership and read a lot of the Kindle discussion boards, you will find that only the top bestsellers are priced at $9.99 or more. Most of the Indie authors are $2.99 to $4.99. I'll buy an Indie author's book at that price, but not for $9.99. If you read on the Amazon Kindle (unmoderated) forum, there are many heated discussions about the price of ebooks. A lot of people don't want to pay over $5 for anything!


message 19: by Catherine (new)

Catherine I have used the 99-cent (and free) strategy with good results.

In 2008 I published a trilogy. I priced the ebook of Book I at 99 cents and also offer it as a free download in multiple formats from my website, because I'm an unknown, indie-published author and as a reader, I understand how disappointing it is to pay even $5 for an awful book.

Books II and III I priced at $9.99. Some people have complained about that, but I figure I gave away a free (or almost free) book so folks could see if the story is something they would like. Having read an entire 300-page book, the reader should be in an excellent position to judge whether or not the other books are worth the price.

The $9.99 price comes from the fact that I do value my work. The 99-cent ebook is a marketing tool that takes the risk out of trying a new author.

Catherine M. Wilson
http://whenwomenwerewarriors.com/
http://www.catherinemwilson.com/free-...


message 20: by ABC (new)

ABC (mary6543) | 14 comments Okay, I will look at more samples........I would like to help new authors if possible. Thanks for your comments!


message 21: by Yassemin (last edited Feb 23, 2011 02:12AM) (new)

Yassemin (yas666) | 23 comments I wouldn't pay $.9.99 for a book even if I liked the first one! I have limits about how much I spend per book. I'd pay that for a hardcopy but not for a kindle. No way! I don't think people should be paying more than $5 per ebook because there are no costs involved. Its downloaded, no printing costs and so on. Its not justified in my opinion and I will just continue to buy cheap to be honest.


message 22: by Weenie (new)

Weenie | 55 comments I'm quite open to trying new authors and goodreads has certainly exposed me to many authors I either hadn't heard of before or would never have considered previously. The most I've paid so far is £6.99 / $11.34 and that was for a Peter V Brett book - he was previously an unknown author to me. That's not to say that I will always spend that much on books and I'd think twice about spending more but with the many free or discounted books available, then the price evens itself out in the end.


message 23: by Ralph Gallagher (new)

Ralph Gallagher | 327 comments Mod
Yas wrote: "I wouldn't pay $.9.99 for a book even if I liked the first one! I have limits about how much I spend per book. I'd pay that for a hardcopy but not for a kindle. No way! I don't think people should..."

There are costs involved, you just don't see them. There's the editing staff that needs to be paid, there are cover artists, formatters, and typesetters. There's administrative staff that handles all the business aspects. Just because there aren't any costs to print the book, doesn't mean it just pops out of the author's head fully formed and ready for sale.


message 24: by Matt_ketel (new)

Matt_ketel 15 | 6 comments i am usually on my kindle on this site


message 25: by Matt_ketel (new)

Matt_ketel 15 | 6 comments what are some good e books that are free?


message 26: by Kae (new)

Kae Cheatham (uppitywoman) | 37 comments I'm a reader and writer. I do not give my books away unless it's for promo.

Here's a recent update from Konrath, who does well with ebooks. He fools around with prices a lot, and then lets others know his sales results. He is, however, off the charts and not the norm; but his articles are interesting.


message 27: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (newtomato) Matt_ketel wrote: "what are some good e books that are free?"

They come and go on Amazon - publishers have to pay for the privilege of listing a book for free. I follow the releases using http://www.ereaderiq.com/free/


message 28: by Weenie (new)

Weenie | 55 comments Matias wrote:"I have also noticed that some Good Reads members give Shakespeare less than 5 stars, which I find laughable."

Why is it laughable? The ratings are arbitrary and can be given according to whether a book is well written or whether the reader found it enjoyable.

I've rated some books which weren't great works of literature but which I've found enjoyable highly.

Other books written by 'masters' haven't always fared so well because reading them may have been a struggle and not an enjoyable experience.

Sorry to have taken this off topic but hey see above, I would spend the sterling equivalent of $9.99 on an e-book!


message 29: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 365 comments Goodreads librarians don't have the ability to delete comments - I am one...however, they can flag a comment and bring it to GR staff attention and if they believe it was an unwarrented attack against an author; or similar they can delete (having not seen the original comment, I have no way to even make a personal judgement)...some authors are like that...there is one on amazon who was quite proud that he had gotten several 1 star reviews removed several times


message 30: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 365 comments i'm not trying to argue with you - i'm just stating facts as I have seen them arise previously...i never said you were an author, or that your attack was unwarrented, but that I had seen authors do that previously


message 31: by Weenie (new)

Weenie | 55 comments Dixie wrote:"No, rating you are descibing above is not arbitrary. It is subjective.
An outcome is arbitrary."


Nah, can subjective or arbitrary as in (from online dictionary):

arbitrary
adj arbitrary [ˈaːbitrəri] not decided by rules or laws but by a person's own opinion



People are rating according to their own opinion of a book not according to any Goodreads rules for rating.


message 32: by Yassemin (last edited Feb 28, 2011 04:38AM) (new)

Yassemin (yas666) | 23 comments Ralph wrote: "Yas wrote: "I wouldn't pay $.9.99 for a book even if I liked the first one! I have limits about how much I spend per book. I'd pay that for a hardcopy but not for a kindle. No way! I don't think pe..."

Of course not but it doesn't justify such expensive pricing!! Its ridiculous how much some ebooks cost. Not acceptable, costs included. As far as I'm concerned some authors are greedy, end of. I won't buy from people like that.


message 33: by Ralph Gallagher (new)

Ralph Gallagher | 327 comments Mod
Yas wrote: "Of course not but it doesn't justify such expensive pricing!! Its ridiculous how much some ebooks cost. Not acceptable, costs included. As far as I'm concerned some authors are greedy, end of. I won't buy from people like that. "

Authors don't have a say in what their books are priced at. Not to mention, most authors are only getting pennies from each sale. Unless you're Stephen King, you're not making a lot of money off your writing. And guess what, authors have to pay bills too. Just because writing is our job, doesn't make it any less of work. Would you like it if I told you you were greedy and your salary needed to be cut? For many authors, this is our livelihood. It's how we put food on the table.


message 34: by Weenie (last edited Feb 28, 2011 07:32AM) (new)

Weenie | 55 comments Yas wrote:"As far as I'm concerned some authors are greedy, end of. I won't buy from people like that."

Before you tar authors with the 'greedy' brush, please read what it says on Amazon for many 'overpriced' Kindle books:

"This price was set by the publisher"

The author doesn't appear to have much say or control in the price of their work in e-format.


message 35: by Matt_ketel (new)

Matt_ketel 15 | 6 comments Parishreader wrote: "Why would some people pay more for a lunch out than a good piece of writing?"

What if it is your anneversary? Or if you were homeless and you had a choice to eat out with everything payed for or a good book? Personally i would chose the food.


message 36: by Sheila (new)

Sheila I look for bargains in all I purchase. I always try to get the most value for my money. I grocery shop with coupons, shop the sales, compare prices, etc.

Yesterday I got a $25 amazon gift card. I decided to use the whole giftcard on downloads for my kindle. I stuck with books that were $2.99 or less, to get the most value for my card, and ended up with 9 books, all of them self published by new, unknown authors. Made me happy to be able to buy their books and support these new authors. And I will review them all here on Goodreads after I read them. They give me a good deal, I buy their books. And if some of these books are really great, I would be willing to pay more in the future for books from these authors. But for now, I get to try them for just a couple dollars. :o)


message 37: by Janet (new)

Janet (jancf) | 1 comments Genia wrote: "Bookaddict
Thank you for the encouragement and for being willing to give new unknown authors a try! We all appreciate it.
My books are always priced at 2.99 and under, and I am offering A Timely..."

just ordered


message 38: by Chantelle (new)

Chantelle (chantelle13) | 8 comments Parishreader wrote: "Why would some people pay more for a lunch out than a good piece of writing?"

Well said.


message 39: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (bookfairy76) Parishreader wrote: "Why would some people pay more for a lunch out than a good piece of writing?"

I totally agree with you. I am willing to spend $10 on a book or an ebook. For me, it just boils down to what I consider more important, a couple of trips to Starbucks, or a great book. The books usually win! lol


message 40: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I need to ask about Kindle ebooks. I received my Kindle yesterday and I am trying to learn everything at once. Amazon referes to http://openlibrary.org/ as a source for free ebooks. I have found a book I want to read there and I have signed up and logged in and still I get nowhere. Maybe somebody who know the site could help me, please! The book I want to read is Nicholas and Alexandra. They have it. However when you search for it there, there is a lock to the right of the book. And it has the name Daisy. Does the lock mean I cannot borrow this book?

Next question: Amazon also has books that are free in its free collection. I can find no way of searching the books by title or author. Am I doing something wrong? One can only search by genre. Please explain how I can search by title or author.

Guttenberg doesn't have it either. So my next question is what do you do when you have a title of a book and want to see if it is free somewhere. Is there a way of searching for a given title to see if it is free somewhere. Maybe I am just dreaming.....

Finally, please give me the links you may use to sites that you find have free ebooks where you can search by title or author. I mean, I am not looking for a FREE BOOK, I am looking for a particular book to see if it exists free somewhere!

Thank you for any help given to me!
I love the Kindle. I have purchased the above paper book but it is so hard to read in paper due to my bad eyes. I want to read it, but preferrably on Kindle!

Oh, I should mention that I live in Europe. Free books seem to be restricted to particular places.


message 41: by Ralph Gallagher (new)

Ralph Gallagher | 327 comments Mod
Gutenberg only has books that are in the public domain. Those are usually the really old classics.


message 42: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne | 11 comments I have discovered a website where you can share and borrow ebooks for Kindle. It's called lendle.me

I tried it the other day and it really works.

And yes, some of the free books are horrible. I've only had one of those, thank goodness.


message 43: by Sallie(GeorgiaGirl) (last edited Mar 11, 2011 03:57PM) (new)

Sallie(GeorgiaGirl) (shuga) | 3 comments Suzanne wrote: "I have discovered a website where you can share and borrow ebooks for Kindle. It's called lendle.me

I tried it the other day and it really works.

And yes, some of the free books are horrible..."


Suzanne, I found the same website yesterday & I love it - I have already lent 2 of my books to someone & I have requested 2, 1 of which is fairly new so I am waiting for someone to say they have it & then I will be able to borrow it. And the best thing of all, its free.


message 44: by Dee (last edited Mar 11, 2011 04:20PM) (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 365 comments Nicholas and Alexandria was only published in 1967, so it doesn't fall into public domain yet, which means that gutenberg won't have it (pre-1923)...not sure about openlibrary though...i've never used it

a daisy (just looked it up) is a special key you can get from the library of congress if you have visual issues - because there is a law out there that basically says (and i'm paraphrasing) that all books need to be available in a format for all individuals, but a lot of the time, they aren't widely available, you have to go through the library of congress to get them

Chrissie wrote: "I need to ask about Kindle ebooks. I received my Kindle yesterday and I am trying to learn everything at once. Amazon referes to http://openlibrary.org/ as a source for free ebooks. I have found a ..."


message 45: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Suzanne, thanks! I hope they soon make it available to Europeans.


message 46: by Angelina (last edited Mar 12, 2011 02:36PM) (new)

Angelina (ariellabe) | 8 comments My favorite site for free and bargain Kindle books is : Pixel of Ink. Currently, there is a book giveaway contest on the homepage. You can follow it on FB, Twitter, or get a daily email. It's great because you get a brief description of the book and it takes out the guesswork. You never get stuck with a doozie!


message 47: by Chrissie (last edited Mar 13, 2011 12:41AM) (new)

Chrissie Ariellable, is the site really meant for those living in Europe? I tried to find those books available in Europe and got nowhere..... I do not live in the UK, but is that where I should look? For example I tried to get A Child al Confino: The True Story of a Jewish Boy and His Mother in Mussolini’s Italy and was told it cost almost 14USD. My primary question is how do I search the site for those books that are free or a bargain in Europe? Doesn't Amazon think Europeans read? I know - it is the publishers' fault! Annoying!


message 48: by Angelina (last edited Mar 13, 2011 07:25AM) (new)

Angelina (ariellabe) | 8 comments Chrissie wrote: "Ariellable, is the site really meant for those living in Europe? I tried to find those books available in Europe and got nowhere..... I do not live in the UK, but is that where I should look? For e..."

I wish I could tell you which Amazon site to choose. You should ask Amazon Kindle support - they can tell you which one. It depends on what region your country falls in.

Pixel of Ink has lots of UK readers...the description indicates whether the book is free in the UK as well which is nice. When it's not free in the UK, the price is given in pounds. I have actually seen books that are free only in the UK (rare but it does happen!) [Lendle.me is only for US customers so that won't help you]
What annoys me is when the Kindle version is more expensive than the paperback/hardcover. The publishers are just being greedy blighters at that point.

I think the calibre forums (http://www.calibre-ebook.com) might be a good source to find sites that highlight free/bargain UK/Euro ebooks.

Good luck!


message 49: by Arthur (new)

Arthur | 7 comments Thanks for the tip about Pixel of Ink.

As far as cheap books. My out of print books are usually listed at $2.99. Amazon pays me 70%, so I'm making about as much as I do with a hardcover. I have one book, DUST, at 99 cents just so that people can be easily introduced to my work.

And this may be more info than what you want, but I also publish with "big" publishers. Authors usually only get 25% of net. So that's $1.13 on a 6.50 book and $2.50 on a 14.50 book. Of course, it's pretty hard to convince people to buy a $14.50 ebook.


message 50: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Delicious Dee Challenge Addict, I have purchased my Kindle b/c my vision is poor. So you think I should turn to Library of Congress? I am wondering if this is only available for US citizens? Do you know? Furthermore, I am a little bit lost. Is the Library of Congress responsible for the Open Library? Do you happen to have a link? I want to make my request at the Library of Congress to the right place! I very much apprectiate your help. thank you.


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