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After reading the original post, I went and checked several pages of free books on Amazon. Apart from classics, I found very few that drew my attention, and from those, many were either short stories (or first chapters of novels to make readers buy those novels) and many had such bad reviews, that in the end I would only have kept a couple.

So... I buy milk (or cows, whatever) because the quality tends to be better (you might say, yes, and the higher the price, the better the book then? Not necessarily so, but it does imply that).  :p
 

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Franklin Eddy said:
I think many authors are training their readers to expect free books.

Unfortunately, these readers probably won't buy any of our books either, unless they are free.
I've heard this claim before, but I haven't seen anything to prove it. True, maybe some people will only download free books. That doesn't mean anything. Those same people probably go to the library on a regular basis. Not everyone can afford to have a room (or Kindle) full of expensive books. As I mentioned before, some people have very limited budgets and you need to earn their trust before you expect their money.
 

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All milk is not created equal.  If I really love a particular cow, I'll pay a fair price for her milk.  If I'm bored and really thirsty, I may just grab a free drink.

Or, in plain English, all the free books in the world won't hurt your sales if you write a book people really want to pay for.
 

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Adam Pepper said:
All milk is not created equal. If I really love a particular cow, I'll pay a fair price for her milk. If I'm bored and really thirsty, I may just grab a free drink.

Or, in plain English, all the free books in the world won't hurt your sales if you write a book people really want to pay for.
This times a hundred.

Book sales are more about visibility and about capitalizing on that visibility with a solid product that people want. If people desire something, they open their wallets.
 

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As a reader which I am at least as much as a writer (more so since I've been reading a lot longer), I want the books I want. What difference does it make to me if milk is free if it is NOT the milk I want?

I rarely download a free book. I am much more likely to pay for something I actually want to read.
 

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"I just caught up on reading this thread, and I'd like to apologize to anyone whom I offended with the Dell v. Apple post."

There is nothing at all offensive about that. It's a topic regularly discussed in business and economic circles. We really don't have to reason out all these things because we have many real world examples to show what happens. Dell and Apple are two good examples.

Apple has managed to position itself at one point on the demand curve where consumers will pay more for a computer. It does this by offering a unique operating system and very well built machines.

However, demand curves are downward sloping, and Apple has ten percent of the unit PC market. Let's say another 10% buy high end Windows/Linux PCs. The remaining 80% are not willing to pay those prices. If a company can get them, wonderful. But it's not something that everyone can do. If consumers could be trained to pay those prices, we have to ask why Apple doesn't sell even more.

Dell is in a mass market, competing for the rest of the market. Dell, HP, and Levano are much more representative than Apple, and they are all competing in the Windows/Linux market. Apple isn't competing there. It has its own op sys. I do dispute the assertion that Dell is constantly circling the drain. Their income statements, balance sheets, and stock prices just don't support that idea.

There's a lot to be learned about the book market by studying other markets. One thing we can see from the PC market is the Fallacy of Composition is correct. The fact that something works well for one does not mean it will work well for all.
 

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I agree with JRTomlin. As a reader, I look for "the books I want. I usually go to Amazon with the book I am looking for already in mind. As a writer, who has favorite hobbies and unique interests, I cater my books to 'my type of crowd.' I know they will come searching for the books I write and they will find them and buy them because I filled a void that existed with quality and highly original material.

(The books I speak of are my Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (submission wrestling) books.)
 

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dkazemi said:
As a reader, I treat free books as samples. I can load up on them then later sort through it. A lot get deleted a page or two in because it is not interesting or the author cannot string words together. From there, I read the ones that remain. Sometimes I buy the next book and sometimes I skip it. I expect basically the same thing when my book goes free. If 2000 people download it, I am assuming 200 will read it and around 20 people will buy the next one.
Seems spot on for my experience. I let my short story go free at the beginning of the month. So far, I've had just shy of 30,000 downloads. If I assume 3,000 people read it, then I should have had about 300 people by my novel. I had a little more, about 326 so far. The bulk of that was at $2.99. Sales started to dwindle during the third week so I dropped the price to $0.99 for the first time. It worked a little not has much as I would have expected. I'm starting the fourth week and second week at the reduced pricing for the novel and sales are slowing down again. At the end of the month, the freebie will go back to $0.99 and the novel back to either $2.99 or $3.99. I haven't decided yet.

I expected more sales of my novel but this is what I got. 30,000 downloads is a lot, especially for a 6,000 word story.
 

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As a reader I've been trying novels for free then buying others in the series for years. My son introduced me to Terry Pratchett's books by lending me the ones he thought I would like. Since then I've bought lots of his other books.
The same thing has happened with library books - read one or two free, get impatient and buy the next one in the series. When I was a student (about 100 years ago) I borrowed book 1 of Lord of the Rings from the library and then went back the following week for book 2. Then I realised they didn't have book 3 but I couldn't wait to read it by then so I went to the nearest bookshop and bought the omnibus edition with all 3 in it.
I think the same formula works with ebooks.
 

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Why drink plain milk for free if you really want chocolate but have to pay for it?
 

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How about self-interest? It's probably the strongest motivator we have in an economy. Widget makers would love to control prices because they could set price where they can maximize profit for a given demand.

Authors are no different. An author's self-interest is to have everyone else price at or above his own price. Then he doesn't have to deal with price competition from lower priced books. This is usually presented as being in the best interests of the industry, market, authors, readers, Cowboy Bob, or Rin-Tin-Tin.

But in reality, and for the good of the industry, it seems obvious everyone should be setting price no lower than my $2.99.
 

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JRTomlin said:
As a reader which I am at least as much as a writer (more so since I've been reading a lot longer), I want the books I want. What difference does it make to me if milk is free if it is NOT the milk I want?

I rarely download a free book. I am much more likely to pay for something I actually want to read.
This makes perfect sense to me. :)

And this from TLH ... this is interesting. I wondered about using a short story in this way ... as a marketing tool. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience and the stats! 30,000 downloads, that seems rather amazing!

Seems spot on for my experience. I let my short story go free at the beginning of the month. So far, I've had just shy of 30,000 downloads. If I assume 3,000 people read it, then I should have had about 300 people by my novel. I had a little more, about 326 so far. The bulk of that was at $2.99. Sales started to dwindle during the third week so I dropped the price to $0.99 for the first time. It worked a little not has much as I would have expected. I'm starting the fourth week and second week at the reduced pricing for the novel and sales are slowing down again. At the end of the month, the freebie will go back to $0.99 and the novel back to either $2.99 or $3.99. I haven't decided yet.

I expected more sales of my novel but this is what I got. 30,000 downloads is a lot, especially for a 6,000 word story.
 
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You know, the re-use of an old colloquialism here is actually interesting.

The only people who use that phrase about cows and milk are nasty old ladies who paint all young women with an old, stanky, deteriorating brush and men who are suffering in apron string bondage (without even a microscopic shot at a teaspoon of skim).

Good, bright, thinking readers are pretty reliable.  I'm a reader.  I subscribe to several "free and cheap" amazon streams on twitter, facebook, and via blog rss.  I download perhaps one or two of the freebies recommended per week.  I download an occasional bargain book.  I buy PLENTY of full priced (even some over-priced) books.

I'm fine. The cow is fine. All is well on the farm.
 

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I'm fine. The cow is fine. All is well on the farm.
I liked that a lot. :)
 

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Lisa_Follett said:
Totally agree 100%. Free and 99 cents for full length novels lowers the perceived value. If you want to give searching readers a taste of your writing, then write a short story or novella (and label it as such), and then post it for a reasonable low price.
Wait, what? That's nowhere near what I said, even in sarcasm.
 

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Franklin Eddy said:
I think many authors are training their readers to expect free books.

Unfortunately, these readers probably won't buy any of our books either, unless they are free.
Franklin, one thing that really irritates me is seeing people blame others for their problems rather than having a good hard look at their own lives. Same with writers. You appear to be teetering on the edge of blaming people like me for the lacklustre sales of - perhaps - people like you. I sincerely hope that I'm wrong?
 
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