My thoughts exactly.
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A year and a half ago, Tor a publisher of Fantasy and Sci-Fi released a selection of their books for free on PDF. Like so many others who love to read, I downloaded a significant number of them (at least 15). And they sat on my hard drive untouched as I didn’t have a great way to read them (computer screens aren’t ideal for late night reading).
Out of those 15 I was genuinely excited about a few, but most were by authors unknown to me or were books that I likely would have never bothered to look at (I’m not that interested in Fantasy) but I thought it worthwhile to snag them as the only investment on my part would be the time it takes to read a chapter before deciding whether the book was worth completing.
Two months ago I was fortunate to receive a Kindle for my birthday, which quickly became a repository for the Tor PDFs. They were free from the shadows of my computer. With this new, convenient way to read them I decided to start with Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. I devoured it. The book was enjoyable to read and the Kindle simply faded away into convenience. Half way through the book I was sidelined by a nasty cold, so I had plenty of time to finish the story and the first thing I did upon clicking through to the last screen was to buy Ghost Brigades, the next in the series, which was delivered straight to my device.
I did the same with the The Last Colony, the third in the series.
And I did this in a span of only a few days.
By providing free access to the first book, Tor profited from my purchase of two that I likely would not have picked up. And those two were in electronic format, which return a higher margin per item. Tor also recruited a new fan for one of their authors.
Tor wasn’t scared of the new format and they were willing to risk giving away a very real product. For their efforts, they have seen short-term benefits and will likely see long-term ones as well as I will likely pick up other works penned by Mr. Scalzi.
I hope to be as enthralled with some of the other free books I downloaded as I’ll be more than happy to give Tor more money for books by authors new to me.
Tor made it attractive and easy for me to give them money and I really wish other publishers would do the same.