Today's post is courtesy of Ben Richter, eReader enthusiast and owner of Best-eReaders.com, a review site for eReaders, tablets and ebooks. Ben wrote this as a follow-up to my earlier plea for Amazon to share the data related to free Kindle content. Here's what Ben has to say:
In today's marketing world, both online and offline, it's getting harder and harder to put your product in front of potential shoppers. The internet has turned the world upside down, and although there are more ways today to promote your product, the competition is getting tougher. So, how can you, as a publisher or as an author, get more people to read your new creation?
The answer is quite surprising. You need to give your product away for free. Like Joe mentioned in his last post, if you browse through Amazon's bestseller list, you'll find a bunch of free ebooks. If Amazon is doing it, then there has to be something useful about it.
So, how can you make money by giving away your ebook for free? Here are some interesting action plans:
- Give away your 1st book for free, charge more money on your next ones: The first impression is also the most important one. Offering your first book for free will get plenty of potential readers to click the download button. If your book is good, they might be curious enough to buy your next one for a higher price. You can see it as a first date. If you made the right impressions, there will be a second one. Another option is to offer your older books for free, when a customer buys your latest one. Kind of a 2 for 1 deal.
- Integrate ads inside your ebook: Sounds like a pretty strange idea don't you think? It sort of takes the romance out of books and turns them into magazines. This idea has never hit the mainstream but it might be a good concept going forward. The ads don't have to be full page ones, they can be textual, embedded nicely in the text. Here is an example: A company called InfoLinks is offering a service called In-text advertising. It basically inserts text link advertisements within the content of your website (or ebook in our case), usually in the form of double-underline hyperlinks. When the reader hovers their mouse over one of these, a floating informational bubble opens with content from an advertiser. If clicked, the visitor is directed to the advertiser’s landing page and you earn advertising revenue; otherwise, when the mouse is moved away from the hyperlink, the bubble disappears.
As you are being paid for each click, it is only a question of how popular your book will be. The more you sell, the more money you make. And because you're giving away your book for free, you'll probably move quite a few copies. In order for this idea to work, eReaders need to support 3G or Wi-Fi as well as have a more sophisticated display than the current eInk versions found on the Kindle, for example. With the current, fast-paced developments, it is only a matter of time until they do. And don't forget about the smartphones and tablets that already support this.
- Limited Time Offer On Your Book: The hardest thing to do is create the initial buzz around your book. So why not offer a limited amount of books for free? Let's say the first 1000 copies will be free… People just love those limited time offers. It makes them think they're missing out on something. If your book is good, this initial buzz could lead to other people buying it at full price.
- Social Market Your eBook: My opinion is that book publishers are not taking advantage of the features eReaders offer. We tend to forget that an eReader is much more than just an electronic gadget with a screen. We might want to look at it as a gate to the web as well! Imagine all the possibilities it might have while connected to the internet… A reader can share her reading experience with her friends on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks while reading the book, helping you as a publisher to social market your book. Maybe, instead of looking on ebooks as books, we should look at them as webpages?
The bottom line: The world of ebooks and eReaders is only starting to evolve. Competition will get tougher, book prices will go down. Publishers and authors have to think of new ways to make money. I believe books won't remain ad-free forever.
P.S. from Joe: I disagree with Ben's notion that ebook prices will remain low or get pushed down even further. Amazon's approach with the Kindle simply leverages content ported from print to e without adding any value. I believe Apple's upcoming iPad device opens the door to a much richer content model. Richer content and more functionality should allow us all to create products more valuable than 99-cent apps and $9.99 quickie print-to-e conversions. I want to give this more consideration and follow-up with a detailed post on it shortly...