I was just reading an email from David Pogue on the “E-Publishing Debate” after he suffered at the hands of pirates who requested [under the guise of being blind] a pdf electronic copy of his printed book – then blasted it free over the Web.
The feedback David received was quite interesting, with many readers believing that making his book free was almost his duty as a celebrated author and that offering free ebook versions would somehow mystically increase the sales for his printed version.
My own research revealed as many disasters using this tactic, as there were claims of successes.
However, it does raise a good question – one I am currently struggling with in relation to my own upcoming book launch. Should publishers offer both printed and electronic versions – and if so, what e-format should be used?
You can find detail of the various electronic publishing formats on the Electrosmart site. These range from uncontrolled pdf versions which offer the greatest convenience to readers, to locked and protected versions requiring login to a website to unlock the document with a user password each time they wish to read it – not that convenient!!
I have to admit that my own feelings are somewhat fragmented. I want to offer the best possible reading experience for my customers – meaning a simple PDF would be the best, however, with the rampant efraud from emerging markets currently ruining many revenue streams of producers of many fine products [not just media] I am naturally somewhat hesitant.
At the other extreme – using a platform such as Amazon Kindle requires a not inconsiderable investment in a proprietary ebook reader before the book can even be accessed.
In the mid-ground, one reader suggested that putting in big letters at the beginning of the PDF document: ‘IF YOU DID NOT PAY FOR THIS PDF, YOU ARE DEPRIVING THE AUTHOR OF HIS LEGITIMATE INCOME.’ would somehow tear at the heartstrings of many who would otherwise take advantage of a non-purchased copy. Whilst this will not affect a true pirate – it was thought that inducing a pang of guilt in the ordinary person may be a sufficient deterrent.
The final conclusion was that there was no valid conclusion. It is diffiicult to know whether a free ebook version will hinder or help sales of the printed version. I guess its still up to each of us to make our own decision on this and pray we don’t come to the attention of these commercial cowards.