27 November 2008

Ebook displays in the recession

I have just received this email from a reader, which I reproduce with his permission:
I have just read The Penal Colony and really enjoyed it.

Usually when I read a book by a new author (to me) and enjoy it I go straight onto Amazon and purchase every single book by that author. But currently I am going through a little bit of a financial problem that is preventing me from buying as many books as I want to. I bought the Sony Reader to allow me to read all the classics that I should have read years ago but never got round to, such as 1984, etc. When I found out about Feedbooks I couldn't believe my eyes.

I have now downloaded all your books and I am looking forward to reading them over the next couple of days. I felt your 'fee' was too low so have doubled it, I would love to have given more but I am not able to just now. However in the future I will continue to purchase your books as quickly as you can write them.

I enjoyed The Penal Colony and would love to know what happened to Routledge.

Anyway, I really hope your endeavour with shareware books is an incredible success and catches on in a big way.
What author could fail to be delighted by such a message? But for me, this is also proof that the shareware model really can work for fiction. It also suggests that, as the recession deepens and people examine their budgets more carefully, the ebook -- especially the freely available, non-DRM ebook -- will seem an ever more attractive proposition. Ebook displays are still expensive, but give comfortable access to an ocean of free and inexpensive reading. When times are hard, traditional book-buying (unlike cinema attendance) takes a hit. It will be interesting to see what happens to sales of ebook displays.

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