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The Phenomenon of Not Downloading Free Ebooks

Captain's Log, Stardate 02.01.2012

So here’s a weird phenomenon. There are a bunch of free thriller books available today on Kindle but I’m not a huge fan of secular thriller because many of them tend to get a little more gristly than I like. I looked at the book blurbs, but they were mostly serial killer type of thrillers, which do tend to get bloody.

So I am actually not downloading free ebooks! I can’t believe it!

But it also got me to thinking. These days there are so many free ebooks that people can start to pick and choose which free ebooks to download.

Isn’t that a strange thing? Before, I’d be snatching up almost any free ebook available because, well, it’s free.

Now, I’m like, “Thrillers, eh. I read them but not my favorite genre. I’ll pass.”

I probably should have had this mentality for some of the other free ebooks I downloaded in the past, because I wouldn’t have so many ebooks that I probably won’t ever read.

Then again, they don’t take up space in my house because the ebook files are stored on my Amazon digital bookshelf or my Barnes and Noble Nook shelf, not on my computer. So I suppose it doesn’t matter if I download books I’ll never read since I don’t have to store the files.

I wonder, does this glut of free ebooks defeat the marketing purpose of a free ebook? I’m sure it works sometimes--a reader will pick up a free ebook from an author he/she hasn’t read before, and suddenly the reader is a new fan of the author.

But with so many free ebooks these days, does it make it less likely that reader will get around to reading the author’s book since there are so many other free (and paid) ebooks the reader has gotten?

So would I utilize free ebooks as a marketing tool? I’m not sure. Maybe. I might offer a novella for free if it was the first of a series. Or I might offer a full-length ebook for a really cheap price, like $0.50. The reason is because I’m wondering if the people who would pay those few cents for my ebook would be more likely to read it than those who got it for free.

What do you think?

Update: I also started this discussion on Goodreads if you want to participate there!


  1. I know where you are coming from Camy. It use to be FREE and I was all over it. That was how I ended up with a house full of birds! I get an email each day with about 40 books each of different genre's and there are days I delete the email without even going over to see what there is.

  2. I was tempted to do that today, too! But a part of me couldn't bear to turn down free ebooks without even looking to see if there was something I wanted.

  3. Free ebooks have the same appeal to me as the thousands of free physical books that are accessible through a public library-I don't check out every book in the library just because a title is free and there for my taking. I'm not a cheap reading date. A book may be free but my time is worth something. So if a book doesn't capture and hold my attention or if it's too gory, dirty, boring, whatever, I have no problem not finishing it or skipping to the end. Though I'm more likely to try a new author or genre if it's free. I have a ridiculous amount of unread ebooks on my Kindle right now that I downloaded last year. So many books, so little time.

  4. LOL I like that analogy and your phrase "a cheap reading date"! My problem is that some free ebooks are only free for a limited time, so I have to decide if I'm going to buy them while they're free or not. A part of me thinks I should buy them just because they're only available for free for a short time, even if I don't think I'll ever read them! Isn't that awful????

  5. I guess you can take solace in the fact that they'll always be available for free at the brick and mortar library. :-) I'm guessing your ereader holds 3,000 or so books so as long as you have the space, download away. Books are like shoes, a woman can never have too many.

  6. I used to download everything free too, but I'm a little more selective now. However, I have picked up other books by an author because I enjoyed the free book...whether that free book was a giveaway, a review copy, or a free one for my kindle.

  7. Yes, books are most definitely like shoes! I love that!

    Laura, I've done that too! I got Lacy Williams' free ebook and liked it so much that I went looking for her other books.

  8. I try to stick to the same rule for all books - cover picture must be clean and it must be "christian" (no juicy love scenes please!). I love free, but not if it will "cost" me ("mommy why is that guy naked??" - you know the open- shirt cowboy covers?). I did pick up a few that makes me want to find more from those authors.

  9. That is interesting. I came late to offering free ebooks but I've noticed that they are driving up my sales.

    The other thing about digital books is that I forget about them. A print book is in view and I remember to read it. But I have to work harder at remembering to read an ebook. I'm thinking I'm going to stick with print, although I'm glad my readers are into digital because that's where most of my sales are. Something for everybody, I think. The marketplace needs both.

  10. I'm with you since I've signed up for several blogs that post all the free Kindle books each day and I've learned to become discerning. While I know I could load every free book that comes along honestly I don't want them all. I will download the ones from Christian publishers and cookbooks, etc but if they deal with vampires, occult, etc then someone else can grab them. With so many every day it's no longer special. It seems like some 'authors' are just throwing anything out there to get their name out instead of actually writing something of value which is why I think that we don't see as many Christian ebooks for free because the authors are more careful what they put out. Just my two cents.

  11. Jaimn, I've found I'm more discerning when it comes to covers! If the cover looks like a self-published ebook, I'm more careful because if it's not from a publisher I recognize, I can't be certain of the content. I picked up a rather nasty book by accident once that way--never again!

    Kathy, thanks for chiming in! It's good to know that your free ebooks are driving up your sales! I agree that I tend to forget about my ebooks, too, since they're not on my shelves, but then again I have so many books that several are in boxes and they're out of sight already! Doh!

    Sarah, that's a good point! The majority of free Christian ebooks I've seen are from major publishers, not self-published. However, I'm starting to see more self-published Christian fiction lately. I haven't read many of them, however, since I'm not familiar with the authors.

  12. I've been collecting "free" ebooks for about 2 years now. Just got my Kindle not quite a year ago. I really appreciate the free books that are out there, but I have learned to check to see who the publisher is before I "take" it. If it's one of the "big name" Christian publishers then I will grab it even if I've never heard of the author. And I have them sorted on my Kindle by publisher, to help me remember that it's a Christian book and probably worth a read.

    I am more hesitant to download books that are obviously self-published. Cheesy covers and really cheap "original" prices are clues I look for. That's not to say there aren't good self-published books out there. But I don't have time to wade through the unknown hunting for them. Know what I mean?

  13. I used to download all of the free e-books that I could, but I no longer do that. Why? Because I was downloading so many that I knew I'd never read them. After awhile, I just stopped. Plus, I have a houseful of paper books that have yet to be read. I have a plethora of reading material and I doubt I'll be adding to my collection anytime soon!

  14. Karla, I check the publishers, too! I also check the authors to see if the book is a reprint of an older book that went out of print. I've picked up some old category romance books that way, and I love those!

    Cecelia, I KNOW! I have so many print books still waiting to be read that often I feel guilty for downloading free books even though I know they're free!!!


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