EBooks, Free, The Value Thereof

Boing Boing points to a study done at BYU that shows free eBook versions of book titles correlates to increased short-term sales of the physical version of the title — although not generally in the case of the eBooks released by Tor as part of its Tor.com promotion, in which each title was officially available for one week only. I thought this last part was a little weird, because I know my book sales numbers, and I remember receiving a fairly appreciable bump in my sales after the Tor eBook release of Old Man’s War in February of 2008. So I decided to check out the study, and figured out why their determination was different from my own.

The primary reason seems to be in the study’s methodology. In each case, the study looked at the Bookscan sales of the book eight weeks prior to the release of the free eBook, and then at the Bookscan numbers in the eight weeks after the free eBook release, and noted the difference between the two. This is a generally cromulent strategy, but in my particular case (and I would imagine Brandon Sanderson’s, as his eBook was out a week before mine) there was a factor I suspect should have been noted but was not, and that is that the “eight week prior” window included portions of December 2007, i.e., “the holiday season,” in which week-to-week sales numbers are artificially inflated as people desperately search for material objects to signify their affection/obligation toward other people.

This factor, I suspect, should have been noted, as it would very likely skew the data. I found my likely line in the data table and noted that the raw number drop in sales between the eight week windows was fairly small, and as a percentage was a single digit, which would appear to suggest that absent holiday sales as a factor, the influence of the eBook release might have been larger, and more in line with my own observations regarding the impact of the eBook release on my sale.

I wanted to look at the data another way, so here’s what I did. I threw out the weeks of December 2007, and averaged the weekly Bookscan sales of the mass market paperback of Old Man’s War for the weeks prior to the free eBook release of OMW by Tor. That’s seven weeks of data. I then averaged the sales of the seven weeks after the eBook release, and found on that on average sales were up 2% after the eBook release than prior.

What’s really interesting is what happens when you extend that window a little further, however. For example, in August 2008, Zoe’s Tale came out in hardcover and The Last Colony in paperback, and both boosted sales of the paperbacks of the previous books in the series. So let’s track the OMW paperback sales from the week the eBook came out through the last week of July 2008 (i.e., before those releases would have had an effect). What do we see? An overall 11.6% increase of average weekly sales from the seven weeks of 2008 sales prior to eBook release.

Were there other factors possibly relating to that increase? Sure; for example, in March of 2008 I was nominated for two Hugos, including Best Novel for The Last Colony. That might have had some influence, but I suspect if so it was tangential, since it wasn’t Old Man’s War up for the award. The major significant promotional push of 2008 for Old Man’s War specifically was the free eBook release. My own suspicions are that it was a significant factor in the overall average increase of sales of the book, at least until other releases in the series lifted its sales in their wake.

My point here is not to suggest the study here was done poorly; I think the authors go out of their way to note more and more rigorous data crunching is advisable, and that this is sort of an early swing through the numbers. My point is that when it comes to these free eBooks, quite a lot changes depending on the data set you choose to use to examine them — and this fact is probably one of the reasons everyone’s still in a tizzy about them.

64 Comments on “EBooks, Free, The Value Thereof”

  1. If Tor hadn’t released the free OMW e-book I would not have heard of you. I bought the e-book versions of the entire series (Minus OMW) after reading OMW. Same with the Mistborn trilogy from Brandon Sanderson. I thought Tor’s promotion was a great introduction for me to some authors I had never read.

  2. My question, especially in light of Ryan’s comment, is whether the effect is larger or smaller than a similar promotional push which didn’t require giving away content. Advertising takes lots of forms, but at the core it’s spending money to drive sales. Presumably in the case free e-books the publisher includes the lost sales in the cost calculation (some % of people downloading the book would eventually have bought it).

    Free e-books are kind of trendy right now, and therefore possibly more effective, but if a free Scalzi bobblehead (and the associated promotion) drives the same sales increase it would seem to be a better deal for you in the long run.

  3. Tor’s promotion certainly gave me the chance to see a wider variety of authors than I would have necessarily read otherwise.

    The skewing effect of transient external factors means that more data for a larger set of authors & audiences is called for. Some of the books on their e.book release study have been around for a long time (Red Mars), others not as long.

  4. I wonder what the effect of e-book readers is on this. For example, if I got a free ebook from an author I wasn’t familiar with on my iPhone I can see starting it, deciding it’s great and buying the real book to finish it. That’s even more likely if I am reading on my computer. On the other hand, if that happens on my Kindle which is roughly an equal experience to the book, I wouldn’t bother buying the book.

    As more people read on good ebook readers or devices like the iPad I think a bump in sales of physical books is less likely.

  5. I’m mildly curious if having a free ebook available for more than a week might have a greater effect. I don’t routinely watch bookstores or publishers for promotions like that. If someone recommends an author to me I’ll see if he or she has any freely available work (online or at the library) to try out first. If I miss a one week promotion, that’s a (slightly) smaller window on my attention for that author to hit.

  6. Baen’s free eBook library has resulted in me purchasing a number books I would not have otherwise. For example, read Eric Flint’s 1632 in eBook form first for free. Then I went and purchased it in hardcover, when it had been available in softcover awhile.

    Think of it like drug dealers. The first hit is always free.

    I now purchase a ton of books because I first read something by the author free from Baen Books.

  7. Having read my fair amount of e-books, if the book is good, I go ahead and buy an old fashioned copy so that I can share that good book with my friends. While I realize that it’s probably better for the author to encourage them to buy their own copy, my purpose is really much more selfish than that: I want my friends to read the book so we can talk about how awesome it is and how brilliant I am for finding it and what a good friend I am for having loaned it to them. Essentially, it’s all about me. All that other stuff is just enabling my awesomeness.

  8. lmao… Yeah, well… I do live in my own universe most of the time.

    I wasn’t necessarily referring to yours! I’ve already bought most of yours through my Kindle.

    I’m always up for a free ebook to try out a new author. I looked through Tor to try and find the ebooks. I’ll just subscribe to their RSS feed and keep an eye on it.

  9. Tor’s introductory thing drove me nuts. On the one hand, it was decent advertising. On the other, since I had (and have, actually) very little time to sit down and read, it ended up feeling like a “grab it while you can, and try to find time later to figure out what it all is” kind of situation. For me, at least, it wasn’t very conducive to actually evaluating whether an author was one I’d be interested in.

    On the third hand, it did give me a chance to sit down and read Old Man’s War (which a friend had already recommended to me), and I ended up buying other books in the series. I may have even picked up the OMW dead-tree version, though I can’t remember now. So there is that.

  10. I know that the OMW free ebook lead to sales of several copies of all your books. I bought copies of the rest of your books for myself. I also bought several paperbacks of OMW and gave them as gifts.

  11. Although Our Gracious Host’s statistical method is better than a blind eight-week lookback, it is still incomplete. There are two other datasets that need comparison, and only if all three reach the same conclusion can one say that there is a conclusion:
    * The exclude-the-holiday-season-bump (or, better, statistically control for it) OGH describes; and
    * The year-over-year comparison, since the preceding year was not too close in time to initial release to be meaningful; and
    * The comparable-time-from-impending-new-release comparison — that is, the eight-week period that is the same number of weeks away (before or after) a comparable new release by the same author

    What do they teach in business schools these days? Clearly not experimental design, hypothesis construction and testing, or replicability; instead, they appear to teach everyone BizStats 204: Advanced Hammering Technique without first ensuring that the thing one is pounding is a nail… that needs to be pounded in, and contributes to the structure in the first place. Unfortunately, as OGH notes at the beginning, that seems to result in a lot of bashed thumbs, because if there’s one mechanical fastener that authors see every day it’s the screw…

  12. Personally, that Tor promotion was like crack.

    Of the dozen, I think I had already read two in dead trees (OMW and Spin). Three of them wound up making me read all the rest in the series (Mistborn, Farthing, and Virga). Pretty sure I read a two or three of the others, but they didn’t trigger the OMG must go out and consume button.

    My conclusion is that having a free e-book of the first title in a series will drive sales of the others, but not necessarily the first book.

  13. Sean @7 I’ve found the same thing. Because of authors I found in the Baen Free Library I’ve purchased at least 20 books that I wouldn’t have previously.

    The only reason I’m here today is because of the free version of Scalzi’s Agent to the Stars. All my Scalzi purchases are due to the first “free hit”.

  14. Well, as long as free e-books are OK – because god knows low priced ones may be the very spawn of the devil for an author when set by a dominant book seller, at least according to one source on the web. A source who could be in a position to actually use an organization’s resources to fight for something readers have been unable to recognize – higher prices benefit them, along with all the people the author’s writing supports. Like the marketing department, because without marketing, who would buy free e-books?

  15. I first heard of OMW via Tor’s ebook release and subsequently purchased it, and have now purchased both Last Colony and Zoe’s Tale.

    If I like the ebook, I’ll generally purchase a hard copy. This is mostly because I lack an ebook reader, but also partly because I feel like supporting the author. The same is true of free MP3s from musicians in that I’ll generally go out and purchase the album if I like the music. In either case, if I’m not enthralled with the new book/music/whatever I’ll usually delete it and move on to something else.

    But both Tor’s and Suvudu’s free ebook promotions have ended up “costing” me more money than had I not signed up for email updates from either service.

  16. @ bryan
    if a free Scalzi bobblehead (and the associated promotion) drives the same sales increase it would seem to be a better deal for you in the long run.

    but i would totally buy a scalzi bobblehead if i saw it at the bookstore next to his books. or at the register. or online. . .
    imagine the bacony possibilities. :)

  17. LizrdGizrd @ 15 Some for me. I first came here when “Agent to the Stars” got mentioned on Penny Arcade. I read the book and stayed.

  18. For me free ebooks have no effect on the purchases of that book. I strongly prefer ebooks to physical books (I no longer purchase physical books), and I’m unlikely to go purchase the ebook version of something that I’ve gotten for free.

    However a free ebook can have a strong effect on my purchase of future ebooks from that author. Brandon Sanderson has received 3 additional purchases from because of the free Tor ebooks. Tobias Buckell has received 2 additional ebooks purchases from me. Both both of those authors will continue to receive additional purchases, because the free ebooks introduced me to them.

    Our esteemed host has not received any additional purchases from me because of the free Old Man’s War, because I was ALREADY purchasing his books.

  19. An additional data point:
    I saved the free ebook version of Old Mans War when released, but didn’t get around to reading it until almost a year later. I had previously started reading Agent to the Stars, but didn’t like it. After finally reading Old Mans War I bought all other parts of the series. The same for Sandersons Mistborn series. I still haven’t read most of the ebooks I saved during that promotion (I expect to get around to them eventually though), because I saved them based on being only available for a limited time rather than specifically because they sounded like something I’d enjoy. However I don’t think I would have picked up Mistborn based on that, nor do I think I would have given your fiction another chance after Agent to the Stars so soon. I did try the free ebook version of Stross’ Accelerando because it sounded like something I might enjoy and have since bought several of Stross’ other novels.

    I haven’t bought the dead tree version of any of those ebooks (I received Accelerando as a gift though), mostly because I don’t care for books as physical artifacts, given the choice I slightly prefer a DRM-free ebook. If any of those downloads had asked to commit to buying the dead tree version if enjoying the ebook before downloading I would have honored that, but I would have been much more reluctant about downloading them in the first place.

  20. The other effect of the Baen ebook library is that I downloaded book one and two for free, shelled out $5 for books three and four and am totally prepared to go the whole $14 for book five if that is what it takes.

    A great way to move some backlist, generate interest in established authors and make book-buying cowards like me take some risks…

  21. I, too, downloaded many of the free e-books from Tor, among them Old Man’s War. I then purchased the physical book along with the subsequent installments.

    I also watch the Baen site, discovering several authors which I have purchased physical books because I do not have a reader.

    When I do acquire one, all of my fiction will be in e-book form. Moving my physical library is quite a chore.

    The free book, in my opinion does encourage the reading, if not purchase, of more books by that author. Just like the free tastes most restaurants in a food court offers.

  22. Glad to see the review of the study. I think this post makes several great points.

    You are correct that this study was kind of an exploratory attempt at using data across several books and genres. Using historical data, comparison books, and also have stats on the number of downloads all would have strengthened the study. Also avoiding holiday weeks! I am currently remedying those design flaws in another study.

    For me an important point is the fact that book sales didn’t totally tank has important implications for books as open educational resources. I think there’s a huge benefit to society by making books available for free. Recently I’ve been involved with another study where eight books were downloaded 100,000 times over a ten week period. Sales increased moderately, but the point wasn’t whether sales increased or decreased; here are 100,000 people who accessed works who otherwise probably wouldn’t have. If free e-books aren’t harming sales, it makes it easier to have a conversation about educational benefits.

  23. Interesting read, thanks for that.

    I know for me personally, I only started reading your books after I got the free ebook of OMW, but I have bought all of your SF books after that, which I never would have if I hadn’t read OMW, so consider me a ‘convert’ if you will.

  24. Like others who commented here, my reading habits were totally changed by Baen. I’d been reading e-books before I discovered Baen, and mostly buying mass market paperbacks. Now, I read more e-books than ever before, and still can’t keep up with the webscriptions I’ve purchased.

    And my physical tbr pile is growing, because I’ve discovered new writers (to me, at least) by reading e-books, and then I have to have physical copies of everything they’ve written. I find that I’m buying more hardcovers, because I know what I’m getting.

    Now, if I could just retire from my day job, so I could actually read all these books!

  25. 1) I’d grab the bobblehead and wrap it in bacon. Duh.

    2) The free ebook thing from Tor was how I discovered Brandon Sanderson. By now I’d have heard of him for other reasons, but having a chance to see his writing in a full novel was key to going from the “oh, a new author, I should check him out sometime” to reading and buying other books. I’d read Spin and OMW, but appreciated that I now had ebook versions of them.

    3) A key point of these results is that having free ebook versions doesn’t seem to hurt sales of the book. Even if sales of the corresponding paper versions of that novel were flat, not enough piracy etc happened to hurt sales.

    4) One issue to track would be to see if authors with novels available saw any bump in sales of their other novels. I wouldn’t buy the physical version of the ebook, but might (and did) buy other books by the same author. I’d imagine that such a bump could be laid substantially at the feet of the promotion absent other factors like the holidays.

  26. John,
    just for S & G’s… this site… yours…could have ALSO influenced people to buy your books… NEVER forget that… you are a gifted blogger that has a far reaching influence. We hope that you will always cause us to ponder our own bellybuttons… and the twists and turn of your mind… hehe. oh yeah.. nice stats..

  27. The Tor.com promotions are still generating sales. I read OMW and Brian Sanderson’s Myst Borne back then but it was only this past holiday season that I picked up both y’alls’ works in paperback.

    ‘Course, since reading your blog for the last month or so, I now have a list of books to get in to. And there’s still 4 books waiting in the… reading room I still have to get to.

  28. Yeah, that Tor promotion is what made me become a Scalzifan and got me to read Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series and Tobias Buckell’s work. I haven’t had a chance to pick up TGE yet, but I hope to do so in the near future!

  29. This is the problem with statistical / analytical studies is that the assumption of the numbers “not lying” betrays the fact that many time there’s the misconception that the numbers are simply representing an equal level of “truth”.

    Well done John on your own examination. My career line of work is based on analytical data and it’s surprising how many studies on the same subject, using the same data set, can achieve wholly different outcomes based on either the goal of those creating the study or the level of detail the analyst is willing to delve into the data.

    The core of the issue with this type of study is it assumes that the catalyst is the eBook as well which is hard to prove without sort of vacuum applied to the data. Ups and Downs could easily be attributed as well as inventory patterns, placement in-stores being inconsistent between the timeframe, specials and the like.

    Anyway, interesting post.

  30. You mentioned the effect of external factors. I wonder how the increasing comfort level for electronic reading will effect paper book sales. The whole study might be rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic if what underlies the book sales is people’s current preference for reading on paper and that preference disappears in the next ten year. I bet the release of albums on CD had very little effect on plastic albums . . . at first.

  31. I wouldn’t purchase a physical book if I already owned the ebook. However, two of those Tor ebooks led me to purchase other books in the series. If I were an author, I’d think it was a lousy idea for my latest book, but an awesome idea for an earlier book in a series.

  32. It’s a nice start that someone is trying to put some actual numbers on what has been up til now a primarily anecdotal reference. But it does feel a bit incomplete, and I also wonder if there are not external factors that are affecting the numbers presented.

    For one example, when the TOR promotion ran, Kindle was practically brand new, and ebook users were just starting to figure things out. Same with the publishers. Compare that to the Random House promotion, where I didn’t even know there was a promotion. I just ran across some free ebooks and downloaded them. Read the first book (Blood Engines) and liked it enough to go out and buy each of the rest of the books in that series. Publishers were more prepared by that point to handle it, and readers like me were more prepared to read the books, and act accordingly. (While I’ve downloaded all the TOR books, I already owned half of them in paperback so there wasn’t a chance for those to have influenced my decision to purchase due to the free ebook.)

    I think any study would do well to analyze the other titles for an author at the same time to see if the free book has any side effects on them. I know that personally, it did for me. Reading a freebie inspired me to pick up several sequels.

  33. Tobias @25
    Thanks for the info (same for Our Gracious Host). I read and enjoyed CR from the Tor giveaway (some weeks after I downloaded it). It’s impractical for me to get a Kindle account (and I don’t want a Kindle), and I prefer ebooks over paper. You’ll get a further contribution to your sales from me when Macmillan put their stated policy in place at locations such as Fictionwise.

  34. Since ebook sales (and thus ebook readers) are (for now) such a small part of the market, I’d suspect that a better technique for driving sales figures is just posting free chapters of upcoming works online, as several authors do (Steve Stirling comes quickly to mind). I don’t have an ebook reader and don’t contemplate getting one until they can handle color (for magazines etc.), but I can tolerate reading a few chapters online using a big monitor (especially since I read a lot of technical papers that way anyhow).

  35. I first read Old Man’s War because of that very promotion, and I’ve been a Scalzi reader since.

    I was living in Taiwan at the time, and English books were expensive to come by on my one-day-a-week teachers’ pay.

    I made a really good circuit of the free Tor and other-publisher books, and found out about some great authors.

  36. As someone who is living in Costa Rica volunteering for the year, I heartily approve of free ebook give-aways.

    I now have a number of new authors I have to read or catch up on such as Eric Flint and Elizabeth Moon because of free books.

  37. I agree with Steven – I didn’t go purchase Mistborn, but I’ve purchased a copy of all of Sanderson’s other non-juvenile non-WoT books.

  38. I’m surprised that nobody’s mentioned this, but Eric Flint wrote about some numbers for this back in 2002 on Baen’s Free Library site. In “Prime Palaver” #s 6 and 7 he talks numbers about his early books (including one with David Drake), and in #11 Janis Ian talks about Mercedes Lackey seeing a jump (with a correction from Eric Flint at the end as to titles involved).

    The basic gist was that for books which had been available for some time, releasing them free was pretty much an unqualified good thing with an impact on sales of those titles plus follow-on and other titles from the same authors.

    Eight years ago their policy for the free books was that they weren’t released free until at least three months after the paperback release, and that only the first two books of a series would be released free (with one exception where there was otherwise no electronic version of a book available).

  39. Alan, anyone who follows this much should know about Eric Flint’s 2002 study. He’s what convinced Baen to do their free stuff, more or less.

    I am somewhat shocked, in retrospect, at how poorly the publishing industry has invested in doing this type of research. I would have thought that business managers (publishers in lines?) would have paid for this as serious market research. If it works for everyone, being able to up sales even 10% could make a huge difference, given how the ultimate margins for publishers work out depending on how close books come to selling out the advance base numbers…

  40. RickWhoIsNotThatRick @29:
    1) I’d grab the bobblehead and wrap it in bacon. Duh.

    2) And stick it to a cat.
    3) ???
    4) Profit!!!

  41. My to be read (virtual) stack is always so high that I tend to grab free ebooks when I notice them and think I might find them interesting (as I did OMW, among others of the Tor giveaways and various giveaways on Amazon), then eventually get around to reading them. It might be a year or more later, but several free ebooks have led me to purchasing ebooks from those authors. My purchases wouldn’t have been captured by an 8 week study, but I bet Amazon knows and has studied the longer term information for Kindle owners.

  42. I collect free ebooks as an emergency stash. I’ve probably got twenty on my ereader, which just resides on the backpack that goes where I do. If I ever find myself without something to read, or am just not in the mood for anything purchased, I hit the stash. It’s no risk. I can read a few pages and stop without guilt if I don’t care for it. (And the author loses nothing, because these are never books I’d otherwise have bought. Worst case, they lose nothing. Best case, they gain a fan.)

  43. Tor’s free ebooks were part of a *promotion*, not simply free content sitting on the internet. I was aware of this blog and a number of Scalzi book titles, and am not particularly motivated by freebies. Yet the Tor promotion drew me in through a combination of:

    – Free content

    – Not too much free content, so the books offered seemed likely to be selected for quality (versus “here’s our latest grab-bag of 100 free ebooks”)

    – Delivering it (almost) straight to my inbox

  44. I’d never heard of you before the free e-book of Old Man’s War. I have since purchased nearly everything you have published. Please ask the appropriate entity to place that in his pipe and smoke it.

  45. I did buy books by Peter Watts and Tim Pratt after first reading a free ebook.

    There might also be a long tail effect, I think have downloaded all the books during the Tor givaway, but I still have to read most of them. I have since bought an ereader, which is an improvement from reading on laptop or computerscreen, and I am slowly reading through this collection.

  46. This is a pretty fascinating look at things. It’s interesting what is made possible by having e-books available at all.

    I recall recently that Brandon Sanderson did something else rather interesting, in a similar vein, where he offered on his site the unedited (and edits-in-process, later) version of his last book, as his writing was in process (albeit in word version rather than ebook version). It was like interested readers were able to kibitz on the writing process. I think that only worked because he’d established himself as an author already.

  47. I read Old Man’s War for free, and subsequently purchased and read The Ghost Brigades and Zoe’s Tale in paperback. Had I not had free access to OMW, I probably wouldn’t have ever heard of John Scalzi.

    So your strategy worked for me! Congratulations.

  48. Count me as another who discovered you through the Tor.com promotion. I have and will continue to purchase books by you, Sanderson, and Daniel Abraham because of those free ebooks.

  49. I follow whatever a lot and I like and read a lot of Sci-Fi books. I think I have read all your books. I got hooked on your blog by an ex-girlfriend that is not even into Sci-Fi and sadly has not read a single one of your books despite my many recomendations to do so. I will still buy her a copy of Agent to the Stars… she does not read sci fi.

    Hurricane Katria and the “Poor Essay’s”ade me a regualr reader and and advocate of yours.. as small as that means in terms of new readers.

    I love your sci fi a ton. I only bought Zoe’s taleat full price in paperback. I bought The Android’s Dream man’s $2 in hardcover… at Chapters in Canada… the paperback was still at full price in the store. I had read it. I bought it to reread or give away.

    I read Agent to the Stars from the library.. a “signed limited edition copy” I think I read it on the beach half in the water in Maine… on the Atlantic ocean… hopefully I did not damage this library copy from Ottawa Ontario… apparently at times it is worth near $1K on Ebay.

    I have read you mosty through the library. I love your work and have tried to get my friends to read you but I think with little success. Likely I buy your next few novels and keep recommendng you.

    As a “fan” I have read I think all your works, recomended them highly to many others, but I do not know if it hs stuck with anyone. I would only know you from my ex. Who has never read a book b y you but that reads your blog. Also recommended the “Poor” episodes to a few and they have read them.

    Anyway big fan. Do not know if I have made you much $$$. But I have tried and the only reason I nknew about you is someone that read your blog sent it to me.

  50. I made an account on TOR, but I don’t see where I can get Old Man’s War free ebook?

  51. john,

    after getting and reading the free “old man’s war” i proceeded to buy more of your work. that’s pretty simple.

  52. Guess #55:
    They were made available to promote the launch of the tor.com website 2(?) years ago. They are no longer available.

  53. I actually signed up to tor.com to get to Brandon Sanderson’s book, because he had just been announced as the guy who would finish the Wheel of Time series.
    Then I found out that I was one week too late and all I could find was this book on old guys by a guy named Scalzi.

    TOR was gracious enough to email me the BS ebook anyway after I asked them.

    So that’s how I came by your book, I read it and loved it. I didn’t buy the dead tree version though, but I did buy the Ghost Brigades and The Last Colony on paper after that, so you did get business. I was actually looking to buy those in ebook form too btw, but at the time couldn’t find them. Are they available now?

  54. Further to Philbert #58

    Are the ebooks available OUTSIDE the US, I am hanging off getting the rest series trying to get hold of the Ghost Brigades but cannot buy it b/c I am in Singapore.

    I enjoyed the Old Mans war and look forward to completing the series.

  55. Tor’s free promotion got me reading you too John, and I think I have now bought everything but Agent in paperback.

    I also have been a long time user of Baen’s Webscriptions. I probably have 150+ books from them. Many of them duplicates of dead tree versions I have already. (Double sales, please note.) IIRC, Baen’s royalty rate on e-books is the same as hard cover too (=2x paperback?).

    But I have not bought a single other e-book and wont until I own what I buy and am not dependent on some else’s DRM to control my stuff. Everything I have from Baen I download in HTML and its all DRM free.

    The other thing to note about Baen’s study is that the lack of DRM didn’t hurt them. Just mention that to the Assassin’s Creed 2 players who got shut out by Ubisoft’s DRM servers going down and locking everyone out.

  56. Tor’s free ebook of OMW set me reading your books and I’ve recently had the whole OMW series in paperback for Christmas, so, yes, I’d say that providing a free copy has increased sales of the dead tree version.

  57. I got the free Ebook.
    And eventually read it last fall I think (don’t like ebooks, like paper copies)
    As a direct result of enjoying OMW I’ve purchased 3 Scalzi novels this spring-ish once my pile of new books was depleted.

    And this is so anecdotal it’s worthless as evidence :)