Friday, February 13, 2009

Does Free Hurt Sales

RH did an interesting study on this and presented at the 2009 Tools of Change conference, a summary is below...

RH said that for the 8 giveaway titles of theirs they studied, "the free downloads were correlated with a slight increase overall sales. As the report describes it, one RH sci-fi/horror novel "was promoted heavily around the time of the download [which began right before publication] and sales grew by a third at the time of the free download before dropping to lower, but not small numbers in the weeks that followed." For another sci-fi title with a film tie-in, the promo download offer "coincided with a 4 % increase in sales of the MM edition that had been released a year earlier. In the 4 weeks that followed, sales of the print edition were more than 40 % higher. Sales of the EBK were twice what they had been before the promo was announced." In a different promo, offering a free download of a high-profile literary first novel shortly after pub, it coincided with a rise in CD sales and EBK sales. But HC print sales, "which had been declining, did not improve during the promotion." For all books in the RH study, avg. sales rose 19% during the promo period, and were up 6.5 % during the defined promo and post-promo periods. There was great divergence however, with actual sales ranging from a 74 % decline to a 155 % gain. For O'Reilly, they monitored 3 P2P sites and found only eight frontlist titles from books the house published in 2008. (They also noticed that overall, books comprise a very small share of the files sites such as Pirate Bay and Scribd.) On avg., those unauthorized postings were made 20 weeks after publication (the fastest was posted in four weeks). As soon as an unauthorized download was detected, they monitored sales of that title--and on average, sales rose 6.5 % here, too.

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