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The Ever-Changing Book World: Fading of the Free Book Promotions

By Deb Smith

When Deb Dixon and I attended Digital Book World’s conference in New York earlier this year, the mantra among speakers was: “Things continue to change so quickly it’s hard to predict what will happen next.”

“Next” has now reared its (Ugly? Unsurprising? Shocking? So-what?) head: Amazon has announced that the ebook promotion sites which lure book buyers by linking to the newest crops of free Kindle titles will forfeit their income (paid by Amazon when buyers click the Amazon buttons on a third-party site) in any month that visitors to the sites download 20,000 or more free Kindle ebooks.

In other words, if your site uses free books as bait to sell advertising to authors and publishers and/or to sell discount and full-priced Kindle titles to readers, you may be about to lose a lot of business.

For more details, read the Feb. 28 article at DBW: www.digitalbookworld.com.

There’s no word yet on what Amazon hopes to accomplish with the new rules, but speculation is that the free-book promotions have run their course in terms of drawing new customers to Kindle. This isn’t saying that free Kindle books won’t exist anymore, or that websites which exist to notify Kindle book buyers of promotions are doomed, but it may be more difficult to find out about the freebies *and* there may be fewer free books offered by publishers. Since offering free copies of ebooks has proved to be a valuable tool for boosting discoverability and sales for both publishers and self-published authors, the jury is out on how much, if any, harm the new structure will cause to those groups.

More news soon. As always, sooner than we can predict . . .

While it looks like Barnes & Noble may be getting out of the business of selling the Nook e-reader, the future of the company’s Nook books catalog seems secure. The BN.com site appears to be thriving, and for writers and publishers in the romance genre, it has proven to be a particularly good marketplace.

Semi-self-promotional news to follow . . .

Deb Dixon is prepping her Goals, Motivation and Conflicts book for its debut in ebook format! “GMC” has gone through multiple printings as a hardcover edition, and will continue to be offered in that format. But now e-readers can own the how-to book for their Kindles, Nooks, iPads, etc. The tentative pub date is April, from Bell Bridge Books.

What’s hot on our Manuscript Buying Wish List at BBB? Let’s play the “readalikes reference game.” Anything in the realm of The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter or the Twilight series, naturally.   Stories that resonate with Nicolas Sparks’ readers. Fresh genre mash-ups: how about some Regency elves, hard-boiled Angel detectives, or Steampunk romance? To name just a few.

Totally shameless self-promotion: I’ve finished a novella, BISCUIT WITCH, which is a spin-off of the world readers liked in THE CROSSROADS CAFÉ. The novella is part one of THE KITCHEN CHARMS TRILOGY, about two sisters and a brother who were born with a nearly mystical instinct for cooking but have lost their way (their whey?) a bit. Part two will be PICKLE QUEEN, and part three will be KITCHEN CHARMS.

Here’s hoping BISCUIT WITCH sails through the tough editorial process at Bell Bridge (Deb Dixon is my whip-cracking editor) and then may reach publication in ebook by May.

Darcy - March 1, 2013 - 11:32 am

Thanks for the update on the business side of things. It will be interesting to see how the free ebook market works through Amazon’s new policy.

On a brighter side, I’m looking forward to Biscuit Witch!! Loved The Crossroads Cafe, it’s one of my all time favorite reads. :)

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