Viva la free ebooks!

Photo by Jon Sullivan
Photo by Jon Sullivan. Not my computer.

Conan! What is best in life?* To find free ebooks and download them!

One of my favorite activities is to hunt down publishers and authors giving away free ebooks. Then I download them and celebrate not spending any money (my budget, it is sad). I also like downloading out-of-copyright ebooks (from places like Project Gutenburg and Munseys), but there’s something really awesome about downloading books from authors that want you download their books for free. It’s like they understand the power of the internet and free stuff, y’know? That sort of thing is pretty rare in publishing right now, though it’s changing.

The power of free stuff and the effect it has on readers shouldn’t be underestimated. If someone offers me a free book, for download or otherwise, I’ll automatically like them better than beforehand, even if I end up hating the book itself. You’re giving me something? For free? Why thank you! What can I buy from you to support you? More books? Fabulous!

Why, yes, I’ll definitely be sure to come back to your website and check for more free stuff. Why, yes, I’ll definitely tell all my friends about your free ebook. Why, yes, I’ll definitely link to your site (and your free ebook) from every bookmarking site I’m a part of.

See what that is? Publicity! Imagine if every person who downloaded an author’s book did what I normally do. Lots and lots of promotion! Possibly money! Maybe– maybe even fame!

Well, probably not that last one, but they’ll definitely get lots of hits on their site. That’s good. It means people are paying attention. It means people are paying attention to you, Writer Person.

It’ll work, too!

See Cory Doctorow, who gives away all his books for free. For that very reason I decided to read Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. I loved it, and I immediately went out and bought three of his books in paper format. If he hadn’t been giving D&OITMK away I would have never tried it, and I would have never found one of my favorite authors.

Photo by Kimberly Butler
Photo by Kimberly Butler. (This is Neil Gaiman, btw.)

See Neil Gaiman, who gave away American Gods and Neverwhere last year. I sent everyone I knew to the website to read them, and so did all his other fans. He got millions of hits. Now he’s got a series of videos up with him reading his newest book, The Graveyard Book. More hits! More fans!

See publishers such as Harlequin and Samhellion, who regularly give away free ebooks. I haven’t read any of them yet, but I at least have the option to. (Plus, with an ebook I won’t feel embarrassed by the horrible covers Harlequin uses.)

They’ve all done it with lots of success and gained rabidly loyal fans. You could try it and get the same. And wouldn’t that be nice?

* Shamefully stolen from Warren Ellis‘s blog. Don’t, uh, click on the links if you’re squeamish.

What do you think about free ebooks? Are you an author who’s given away a free ebook? How did it go? For those who haven’t, would you ever give one of your books away?

More about this topic: Free(konomic) E-books | Giving It Away | Baen Free Library (with mission statement) | Yet Again, Giving Away Free eBook Increased Sales Of Author’s Books | Free Six Bad Things

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