During the e-reader boom period from 2009 until 2013 many people got switched onto digital. Online bookstores did record business and many new entrants came to the market, offering their own self-publishing systems. One of the tools that authors employed to get their book out there was giving it away for free. Whether they made it free for a short period of time or did it from the beginning, people downloaded it in droves. New research is suggesting that giving your eBook away for free might not be effective anymore.
Apple owned iBooks was the focus of a recent case study and the data said that for every one book purchased, 39 were downloaded for free. In prior years the gulf between free and paid was even more pronounced. In 2012 it was at a 91:1 ratio and in 2012 100:1.
The digital book market is certainly not sick — it’s growing robustly. Overall, online book sales were up in 2013 by 3.8% for total sales of $1.3 billion.
Self-Published authors are beginning to realize that the concept of free is declining. It is no longer effective to give it away for free and expect a ravenous flock of readers will devour it. After all, even Microsoft is giving away 300 free eBooks, and they hardly have any downloads.
If free is no longer working, what are the price points that are most effective for sales? The report revealed that $2.99 and $3.99 were a popular price point.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.