Ebooks and book sales

RZ questions my logic:

BTW Vox I know your opinion about copyright, but the best bet is give people half of the book for free and then make them buy it. I would go buy War in Heaven right now if you hadn’t given it to me.

I honestly don’t think that is the best bet. After all, RZ has been able to buy “The War in Heaven” for the last six years, but has not done so. Is the story really so compelling that one would simply have to go buy the book after getting in halfway? And wouldn’t one be less willing to start reading an ebook that one knows is incomplete?

I like to own books. I purchase books that I like, regardless of whether I’ve read them already or not. For example, I’m planning to pick up a four-volume set of J. Gregory Keyes excellent “Age of Unreason” precisely because I’ve read and enjoyed the ebooks. I prefer to buy books that I’ve already read, in fact, because I can avoid polluting my library and wasting my money on stuff that I don’t like. My economic vote is more informed, one might say. (And that I’m a copyright “criminal”, but I’ve freely admitted to that already.)

I have seen no evidence that freely available ebooks hurt book sales and a fair amount of evidence to the contrary. The ebooks that are found most easily on the pirate archives are the best-selling books, whereas midlist stuff like my own is much tougher to find and obscure niche stuff is wholly unavailable. (Anyone ever seen any Oman texts?) The number of those people willing to pay for a book is a small subset of those willing to read it, and since both groups are equally capable of producing the word of mouth required to produce new book buyers hitherto unfamiliar with the author, my strong suspicion is that at this particular intersection of time and the development of the literary market, free ebook releases are a net positive. How strong a positive is yet to be determined, of course.

In tangential news, I finished the last formatting and spell-checking for “The Wrath of Angels” today, (which was more exciting than it should be given a machine with a broken keyboard), and I should be receiving the final high-res cover image from Rowena this week. I’m hoping to send everything off to the printers before November 15th, and the books should ship out three weeks after that but since this is my first experience with this sort of publishing, I’m just going to go with the flow and see what happens.

And yes, I will be releasing the ebook in .pdb and .pdf formats as well. In fact, they’re already done.