Well, my publisher, William Morrow, has decided to promote the new Bangkok thriller, THE QUEEN OF PATPONG, by giving away the Kindle version of the first one, which is called A NAIL THROUGH THE HEART.  They're including three chapters of QUEEN to try to lead readers from one book to the other.

What does anyone think of this idea?  Any drawbacks?  (NAIL will only be free for about a month, after which it'll go back to $9.99.)  Any ways occur to anyone re: how to capitalize on it?

I don't know whether they're doing the same thing with the Barnes & Noble e-book version.  Should they?

Opinions or thoughts, anyone?

Thanks in advance.

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You do know that it isn't Amazon that creates tags, don't you? That's a consumer thing, like the reviews. Yeah, those boycott groups are very active, and no Amazon does not encourage them any more than they encourage the rival groups that run around down-rating the boycotters. Both groups have been lobbying for Amazon to shut down the other and Amazon won't - because their business model is to let the community rule.

Yes, price point is important to Amazon... because Amazon knows their audience. They've been collecting info for decades now. They know exactly who their audience is and what they want. Like all retailers, they are focused on their customers.

I can understand why people in publishing are so paranoid about it, because the big distributors have held such a stranglehold for so long, and they've manipulated things so much. And yes, Amazon is a big company that does things for its own sake, just as Apple or Barnes and Noble does.... but honestly, this is coming from the consumer. It is in their interests and business model to follow the consumer's whims.

(As for whether there is an huge untapped audience for ebooks.... well, right now, they are an untapped audience for books, and they aren't that picky, but they are price sensitive. And ebooks are an opportunity to get them back in the fold.)
In my experience, Amazon is highly selective in the way it "lets the community rule." Ultimately they're responsible for what happens on their site; if they didn't want the boycott groups in play, they'd put a stop to it. As I say, when they suddenly dropped every author on a Macmillan imprint, were they letting the community rule? Or were they playing retail hardball, and trying to bring a supplier into line? But I think we're going to have to agree to disagree here--clearly you've got your perception and I've got mine.
Let me say off the bat that I support Amazon and its Kindle. But I am very sensitive to the million ways that have been invented for people to get books for free or for very little. That includes used book sales and libraries that don't return anything to authors. As long as authors are expected to turn out books for starvation wages and are subject to the greed -- umm business acumen -- of publishers and book stores, I will scramble for anything that will give me a bit more income and control.

As for the gratitude of readers who have read my books without paying me anything, I don't get the feeling that they try vry hard to pass the word so that others will buy. People want stuff for free, and they don't care about fairness in that respect.

And Jon is quite right about the initial sales after a book is released. They last a month. After that the stores return unsold copies and people read the books in the libraries. And the author doesn't eat.
Great discussion.

Nobody cares what I think, not even me, actually, but here's what I think.

1. Authors have always been the least powerful people in modern publishing. They've never been able to control how, or how well, they're distributed unless they're in the zillion-dollar group.

2. E-books are here and we, as authors, have to live with them. (Sales went up 207% last year.) Amazon is on its way to being the most powerful retailer of any kind in history, and we're going to have to live with that, too.

3. Prices of $21.95-$25.95 for new books are ridiculous. (My own new one is $24.99) I understand all the reasons why those prices exist, having been published now by majors for 20 years, but they're outrageous. They're also the main reason people buy used books. If you love books and you read 4-5 new ones a month and you have very little money, there's no way you're going to shell out $100 per month for books.

4. E-books are cheap to manufacture, involve no shipping, and essentially eliminate the problem of returns, which is one reason book prices are so high. As long as DRM is effective and prices are reasonable, they'll also greatly reduce used-book sales. Why buy a used paper copy in great condition when you can get a e-book for less? (Assuming you read e-books.)

5. E-books give writers who have regained control over their backlist a terrific opportunity to make money on those titles. OR, the e-book marketplace allows them to take new manuscripts direct to readers, making up to 70% of the retail price of each copy sold. (I'm putting my new ones up now and thinking about going direct with a book that has ALMOST been bought by six publishers.)

6. That means, going back to point one, that e-books offer writers a chance to be in the driver's seat for a change. Sure, you'll have to learn how to promote your product, etc., but then I have to do that now, don't I?

In all, I think this is a very interesting time to be a writer and a GREAT time to be a customer. And I think, in the long run, the two go together.
Agree with all of this. Suggest also that Amazon is going to become a powerful publisher too. Witness its "Amazon Encore" program already.
This is well said, Tim. Still it's worth bearing in mind the old Chinese curse about living in interesting times. This seems very much a wait and see moment to me.


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