The slow pile-up of Kindle book offers + free story

First, for your Kindle, a short story -

All these offers and the recent increase in the number of $1 and $2 kindle book deals creates a unique problem.

How can a kindle book offer stand out?

There are just too many offers. Despite writing almost daily posts on Kindle book deals there are still an abundance of book offers left over -

  1. After yesterday’s post on 28 children’s books for 88 cents each (including Curious George) there are now another 20 or so offers at 88 cents each (including a couple of Junie B. Jones books).
  2. Brenda Jackson is offering 5 Romance Novels for 81 cents each. These are all books rated 4 stars or 4.5 stars. The link takes you to one and then the ‘Customers who Bought this Item Also Bought’ section right below the book cover has 2 more 81 cent books. Alternatively, you could click on her name to bring up all her books and sort by Price: Low to High.
  3. There are also 80 cent romance novels from Sandra Edwards and Lori Foster.
  4. Almost every Publisher is using the trick of getting free publicity for an author’s new release by offering a previous book by the author for $1 or $2.
  5. Publishers are also using free books and free prequels and stories (like the one above) to generate interest in new book releases.
  6. More and more indie authors are moving to the $1 price point.
  7. A lot of backlist books are coming in at $3.

There are so many free offers and deals that you need an offer to generate interest in the offer.

We’ve moved from ‘How to get attention in a crowded market’ to ‘How to get attention in a market crowded with free offers and $1 book deals’.

$1 Book Deals are no longer getting much attention

There was a time (most of 2008 and 2009) when a $1 book got a ton of attention. Orbit Books used to have a $1 Book of the Month special and Amazon would feature it and lots of people would buy it.

Imagine that – Having a $1 book offer was enough to get attention.

Now, even with a $1 or $2 book deal from a bestselling author, it’s hard to get attention. Just in this week alone we’ve had 5 or more bestselling authors offer books for $1.99. Not a single one of them got a ‘Special Feature’ by Amazon. When people mention it on the forum the offer quickly gets buried by newer offers – sometimes within 15 minutes.

A $1/$2 offer is slowly losing its power.

Fighting for Attention despite a $1 Book Deal is just the Beginning

It’s going to get worse.

Currently we have 50 to 100 free book offers a month. At least those get lots of attention from everyone and lots of downloads. If we go back to 2008, we had 3 to 5 free book offers a month.

What happens when we have 10 to 20 offers a day and 400 offers a month?

Then free book offers will become the equivalent of what $1 book deals have become now. Before you can check the 5 most recent free book offers there will be another 5. Halfway through that list there’ll be another 5.

Where do we go after free?

First, it became tough for a book to stand out in the Kindle Store. Now, it’s becoming tough for a $1 book deal to stand out. Soon, it’ll become tough for a free book offer to stand out.

What do authors do after that?

The ability to use free books as free marketing is going to vanish. Free book offers are only valuable when there is a limited supply. These days, every single author wants to use a $1 book deal or a free book offer to promote her/his new novel. That means the number of offers keep increasing and readers are well on their way to becoming indifferent to offers.

Instead of a treat it’ll become an expectation.

We’re already beginning to see this in the way readers react to free book offers – There’s no longer that ‘once in a month’ special feeling. Users get 10 offers on Monday and then 11 on Tuesday – more offers in 2 days than they probably got in all of 2008. It’s just not that special any more.

Kindle Store authors are about to lose their two main free marketing options – Book Deals and Free Book Offers. Then, horror of horrors, they’ll have to spend actual money on marketing their books.

Perhaps even more fascinating is wondering what will happen as this trend continues and competition for readers gets tougher and tougher. Authors have no idea how challenging things are going to be for them and readers have no idea how good things will be for people who read books.

5 Responses

  1. “Kindle Store authors are about to lose their two main free marketing options – Book Deals and Free Book Offers. Then, horror of horrors, they’ll have to spend actual money on marketing their books.”

    Two or three days ago (here) I suggested that Amazon add a $1 button that would bring up a collection of up to a dozen professional book reviews, refundable if the book is (or was) bought. I suggested that Amazon bear the costs as general overhead, since it would increase sales and decrease returns (or buyer’s regret).

    How about instead if authors (the ones who have had good reviews, presumably) funded this, or partially funded it, and the button were free for site-visitors? I think that would help the good-quality books emerge from the mass, saleswise.

    • PS: The button should or could also contain a count of the reviews that will be available to read once the button has been pushed, because it is a “plus” if a book has received a lot of professional reviews–it’s a least thought to be worth taking seriously. A book with only one or two professional reviews is one that serious reviewers have “passed” on–possibly for a good reason.

    • PPS: The button would only appear if the publisher funded it.

  2. I will never complain about free books! I look forward to them every day from the forum! I only download what’s interesting to me. I’ve got 60+ pages of free books – more than I’ll ever have time for! 8)

  3. Too many free books? What a crock. I see Amazon trying to validate higher fees! I read new authors because of price and if they are decent. I buy another book regardless.

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