Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Can putting more book content online drive print book sales?

In the current (June) print issue of Wired magazine, columnist Clive Thompson makes a compelling case for putting more free book content online - sometimes. He posits that once a book's text is open for discussion online, the resulting community which grows up around that conversation will support the print product.

Thompson writes, in part:

"You're far more likely to hear about a book if a friend has highlighted a couple brilliant sentences in a Facebook update—and if you hear about it, you're far more likely to buy it in print. Yes, in print: The few authors who have experimented with giving away digital copies (mostly in sci-fi) have found that they end up selling more print copies, because their books are discovered by more people."

The "mostly in sci-fi" qualifier may make for some skepticism, but there's not much reason to doubt why it couldn't happen across all the genres and in literary publishing as well. He notes:

"Every other form of media that's gone digital has been transformed by its audience. Whenever a newspaper story or TV clip or blog post or white paper goes online, readers and viewers begin commenting about it on blogs, snipping their favorite sections, passing them along. The only reason the same thing doesn't happen to books is that they're locked into ink on paper."

What do you think?

You can read the entire (brief) Wired column, "The Future of Reading," here.

1 comment:

Susan Bearman said...

First, I found the second quote a little strange, since a blog post by nature is online, so there is no digital translation involved.

Mystery writer JA Konrath is extremely generous about posting his work online and believe it is a vital part of his writer's platform and marketing strategy. He is also very generous about sharing his hard won writing and publishing tips.

I have mentioned my WIP (a children's novel) on my blog, but just recently posted a few specifics and got some interesting feedback.