Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Party's Over?

As promised, I've been monitoring the chatter from authors who discovered over the past few days that Amazon has been giving away their books for free. Remember, these were books they were already giving away for free over on Smashwords, but had been charging the minimum price (.99 cents) for at Amazon.

It appears within the past few hours that Amazon has put a stop to this, first making these books inexplicably "unavailable" and now putting them back at their .99 cent price point. At least one author has been in communication with Amazon about this, and Amazon says that further information on this issue will be forthcoming. Now THAT should be interesting.

But as a quick perusal of this thread reveals, most authors are delighted that this happened. Authors are reporting downloads of 5400, 5600, 8980, and more free downloads of their books. In many instances, these free downloads propelled them into the Top Ten "Bestseller" lists on Amazon. In some instances, their books are now #1 in their genre.

These authors now have thousands of new readers they might otherwise not have had, and because many of these free books were the first in their series, if a reader becomes intrigued by it, it will no doubt result in more sales. In any event, users searching the bestseller lists are now far more likely to stumble upon their books, all because they were in violation of Amazon's Terms and Conditions.*

I noted in a post a few weeks ago just how much luck seems to figure into an author's success or failure. I probably should have noted that chutzpah too figures in.

So I do congratulate these folks for taking a risk and having it pay off. I further hope Amazon is somehow forced to pay you the thousands and thousands of dollars in royalties you otherwise would have received had Amazon not reduced your price to zero. No doubt, some litigious author will push it, and I wish them luck.

Following the rules is over-rated anyway.

*The assumption being that an Amazon "bot" or spider discovered the book for free elsewhere, and automatically matched the lower price per their Terms and Conditions.

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