Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The best things in life were free

By the time you read this, you are just too late to download a free ebook copy of our Scottish noir book Blood Tears by Michael Malone. For a short period the book will now be at 99p at Kindle before reverting to its normal price. There is a lot of debate in the booktrade, among writers and publishers, about the value of such offers with titles like the latest Alan Hollinghurst novel available for 20p. The critics say this devalues the book, and of course you can't make money on free. By and large I'd agree with that, not least as Amazon here (and even more in the USA) is awash with self publishing people who are desperate for any readership and offering their titles for free. How does the common reader wade through the acres of free books to know what is worth reading?
It's not good. But we thought we'd try offering a book for nowt to see if the Amazon algorithms lead to the book being promoted. We wanted to do this with a book that was within a genre where ebooks are popular (crime) and which was good. There are currently 22 five star reviews on Amazon and Michael Malone assures me that he is not related to them all! It will be interesting to now see if the buzz around the free ebook translates into a longer term interest in the book and the author. Michael is in this for the long haul, and his next crime novel with Five Leaves is completed. Our hope at Five Leaves Towers is that this promotion will mean that those who downloaded his first book for free might buy into his five book series, attend his events and generally think this is an author worth getting to know. 18,000 people downloaded Blood Tears during the five day free period, which put the book at number one in the Kindle free charts. Our first chart topper and we make not a penny... but the ebook market is "immature" (to use an industry term). We know from elsewhere that even books that top the Kindle paid-for charts don't necessarily do well in bookshops, but we thought this was worth a try as an experiment. It does not mean that all or any other Five Leaves titles will be free in the future. We'll see.

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