Friday, December 22, 2006

Free Books Increase Sales

Or so claims Cory Doctorow in the Forbes article Giving It Away

I've been giving away my books ever since my first novel came out, and boy has it ever made me a bunch of money.

When my first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, was published by Tor Books in January 2003, I also put the entire electronic text of the novel on the Internet under a Creative Commons License that encouraged my readers to copy it far and wide. Within a day, there were 30,000 downloads from my site (and those downloaders were in turn free to make more copies). Three years and six printings later, more than 700,000 copies of the book have been downloaded from my site. The book's been translated into more languages than I can keep track of, key concepts from it have been adopted for software projects and there are two competing fan audio adaptations online.

He's not the only one doing it. Peter Watts is giving away Blindsight. JA Konrath is giving away some of his novels too. He explains why in his post Ebooks! while referencing some other free book sites like Project Gutenberg.

Do free books help? I know I downloaded a few. I haven't read them yet because I don't like e-books too much. I don't have a reader, and sit in front of a computer screen all day at work too. But I think this is a great thing for published authors to do for their readers -- existing and potential.