Books written by Ray Sullivan

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Amazon Come Out Fighting - Buy One Book, Get eBook Version Free

Amazon have been on the back foot in recent weeks.  Apple are selling as many eBooks as Amazon are and Smashwords have introduced a few innovative schemes to make their distribution channels more appealing.  Probably the most exciting of these to authors is the pre-order system that I wrote about a week or so ago.  With this an author can upload a book ahead of official launch, advertise it through their blog, website, word of mouth, whatever works for them, and then sit back and let their fans pre-order their copies.  On the given launch day all the pre-orders are shipped in one hit and the author stands a better chance of creeping up the charts, finding him or herself exposed to new potential readers.  Throw in a launch discount price and you might just get a few extra readers.

Of course Smashwords has always been more flexible than Amazon.  With the big A, unless you commit to being exclusive to them via their KDP Select program, you can't easily discount books.  You can drop the price but you get hammered on the royalty rate and the zero option appears to only apply to those who sign up for Select.  With Smashwords you can promote books for free any time you like, or you can drop the price to $0.99 and still retain the 60% royalty rate.

And Smashwords has just forged an alliance with the biggest eBook seller in India.  eBooks are only just taking off on the sub-continent, by all accounts, but India has the largest concentration of English speaking and reading people on the planet.   It's been well documented that India is a major growth market so it's welcome news that our books can be accessed there readily.  The only issue I have with Smashwords right now is that they have a one price fits all attitude.  Amazon allows me to charge different rates in different regions, within some arbitrary parameters.  I'd like to make my books in India be priced more realistically for the locals, not based on US and European price expectations.

But Amazon have just produced one extra no cost promotional tool for authors that Smashwords cannot compete with.  They are allowing authors to let them sell eBook versions of their books at a discount to customers who buy the paperback or hardback version.  And when I say discounted, it can be as low as zilch.

That's right, you can let those who choose to buy your book in print to obtain an electronic version for their Kindle for free at the same time.  I've just set my books up on Amazon to allow this pricing and it should permeate through to the bookstalls over the next few hours, but I doubt they will allow anyone to pick up a free eBook retrospectively, so apologies to those who have sunk their hard earned cash into my paperbacks.  But I'd say it's worth a try if you have bought one of my paperbacks previously and certainly if you contact me with evidence you've bought my books in print I can work out a way to get free electronic copies to you, even if Amazon won't.  But try them first, they might just bite!


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