Giving away ebooks gives me artistic, moral and commercial satisfaction. The commercial question is the one that comes up most often: how can you give away free ebooks and still make money?
For me — for pretty much every writer — the big problem isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity (thanks to Tim O’Reilly for this great aphorism). Of all the people who failed to buy this book today, the majority did so because they never heard of it, not because someone gave them a free copy. Mega-hit best-sellers in science fiction sell half a million copies — in a world where 175,000 attend the San Diego Comic Con alone, you’ve got to figure that most of the people who “like science fiction” (and related geeky stuff like comics, games, Linux, and so on) just don’t really buy books. I’m more interested in getting more of that wider audience into the tent than making sure that everyone who’s in the tent bought a ticket to be there.
It seems that we are beginning to trip over increasingly enlightened authors on the digital frontiers here at Pan Macmillan. Just as we are poised to publish the the seventh novel in David Hewson’s beguilingly atmospheric and addictive Rome series, Dante’s Numbers, David has shrewdly agreed to an experiment to give away the first of his novels featuring the popular detective, Nic Costa, as an unDRM’d ebook.You can download the ebook from Scribd Since yesterday it’s been downloaded over 3000 times. The ebook will cease to be available as a free download after October 15th, 2008. Kudos to David and good luck to him!