Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Do Free Online Sample Chapters Sell Books?

Over the past few years there's been quite a debate about whether providing free sample content online spurs overall book sales. According to new data from LibreDigital, the answer is yes.

14 comments:

Ash. Elizabeth said...

I think so. I mean when you're in a bookstore you can look through it, but what if you're ordering online? If want to buy through Amazon or something, they don't always have samples. As a result, I usually don't end up buying the books unless I've heard great things about it.

ryan field said...

I've been wondering about this for a long time.

Nathan said...

"Elantris" by Brandon Sanderson, I never would have purchased if not for the sample chapters up on his website. I think sample chapters are great, like testing the water with your big toe before committing to the dive.

Mystery Robin said...

I would never have bought Cracked up to Be, by Courtney Summers or Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas if I hadn't read sample chapters.

And, oddly, I never read the beginning of a book in the bookstore (maybe because I have three kids with me) but I definitely will online.

Reesha said...

I heard Mur Lafferty once say that the best thing she did as a beginning writer was put her writing online and getting over the scarryness of it.

I think it's a great idea.

I'm not concerned about people stealing my stuff. It can happen and it would suck. But if I'm truly a writer, I'll get over it and go write something else even better. My value doesn't lie in one single scene or a single book. Essentially, I should have more where it came from.

I like that they mentioned it also helped with eBook sales. Seems like a powerful marketing tool across the board.

Shennandoah Diaz said...

Author Brandon Sanderson (sp?) took it a step further and put the manuscript in progress on his website. Now he is a NY Times Bestseller. Direct link? Hard to say.Harper Collins offers a similar service for unpublished works so authors can garner feedback on works in progress. Seems like everything is moving that way.

I admit to reading at least the first five pages of a book before I commit to purchase. I utilize the "look inside" function on Amazon too. It's a good way to get a feel for the voice and content. You try on shoes before you buy them, right? Okay bad comparison I know, but trying to find the right fit carries over. Every book is not meant for everyone.

Ginger B. (Barbara) Collins said...

I am a yet-to-be-published author and you have confirmed what I hoped would be true.

A few pieces of flash fiction based on the lead characters in my novel are up on my website and I'm hoping they not only prove to be provocative reading but also a good example of my writing style.

Thanks for finding the facts.
Ginger B. Collins
www.gingerbcollins.com
http://coppertopcollins.blogspot.com

BubbleCow said...

I suspect we are now months, rather than years, away from it being the norm that books have some kind of free online content. As publishers become more comfortable with the idea we may even see 'internet only' extracts, with unique and additional chapters seen only on the internet.

Anonymous said...

I believe sample chapters help. At least, it works for me. I often won't purchase a book from a new auther without reading some of the first chapter. I need to be careful with my book funds.

ksclay said...

It makes sense that they would. I know that I, for one, always want to read a few pages before I decide if a book is worth it, and I do most of my book buying online.

Jen said...

I'm always searching for new authors, but I also look for sample chapters everytime. I rarely purchase a book anymore without reading a sample first. If I can't find a sample chapter online, I look for the book at the library instead of buying it, and pass if it is not there.

Scott said...

Yes. I'm more likely to buy a book, especially since I have a Kindle, if I can read the first chapter. Then again, I used to find a comfy chair in Borders, read a chapter or two and buy the book if I liked it.

S

Voidwalker said...

Ash makes a good point. You can preview in person, why not online?

I'd say that this is just like anything else that falls under the category of "preview/sample."

Can you get a free Krispy Kreme doughtnut while waiting in line? Will your Chinese Line-Food cook offer you a piece of orange chicken while you decide what you want to order? Can you take a $20,000 car off the lot for a test spin? Yes. Do those opportunities change your decision about the product you were considering? The answer is anywhere from "No" to "Most Definitely." So, why should chapter previews be any different?

Anita3 said...

I agree. I've purchase many books base on the sample chapers I read online. However, what do you think about people posting samples of unfinish books online for opinions?
Thanks
Anita