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Free Becomes More Popular – Study

A few years ago Kobo did a couple of studies–one was to see how many people bought and read the number one best sellers (at the time I think the study was done with A Girl on the Train). The percentage of people who read the story was quite small compared to the buyers of the book. They also did a study on how many people opened and read free books (from Kobo’s site, not other sites). The percentage of people who read the books was less than 1 percent.

In their latest study, it looks like free is improving. Less than 20 percent of free downloads get opened. If they are read, about 50 percent of readers go on to buy the next in series.

Other techniques are talked about in this study, including the success of giving away a book in exchange for an email address (this is a very, very popular strategy right now). It’s nice to have this kind of information. I recently gave away copies of Sage in exchange for email addresses and while it was rather painful to implement, it was a success as far as email addresses. Will those addresses/people buy my books if I run a sale? Too early to tell.

I’m behind in implementing the email address strategy. Actually, I’m very far behind in marketing my books and as a result, it is hampering my ability to write more books because if books don’t sell, there is very little point in writing more.

But the study is quite interesting (at least to us writers). Check it out if you have time! Please let me know your thoughts on any of it!!!

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Posted: August 9, 2017


  1. I am astounded at the people who buy books and don’t read them. ????? This makes absolutely no sense to me. Do they buy bread and toss it in the trash when they get home?

    Comment by April — August 9, 2017 @ 1:53 pm

  2. I pretty much read as I buy. But I admit that many of the free downloads don’t get opened. Some definitely get sampled, but I probably read about one percent of them. And I’m picky about the ones I download now. I used to download them all “just in case.” Now I have to be pretty convinced that it’s worth sampling. Even some of those just get deleted off my kindle though. If I pay for a book, I generally read at least 20 percent of it. Of course, if I don’t like it, I don’t bother to finish it!

    Comment by Maria — August 9, 2017 @ 2:03 pm

  3. The original study on best sellers made the point that many people buy a certain book because it’s being talked about. They probably intend to read it. They just never do. There are many, many distractions in the world today!

    Comment by Maria — August 9, 2017 @ 2:04 pm

  4. I suppose but those people must have money to burn! When I buy a book it is after careful consideration. Obviously if it is terrible or I don’t like it I won’t finish it but that is very rare for me since I’m very picky about what books I buy.

    Comment by April — August 9, 2017 @ 3:20 pm

  5. Er, I buy more books than I can read. I read fast, but not as fast as April so the books pile up. I’m trying to cut back. πŸ˜›

    Comment by Benjamin — August 9, 2017 @ 4:28 pm

  6. NOBODY reads more books than April, Benjamin!

    Comment by Maria — August 9, 2017 @ 4:46 pm

  7. I binge judiciously with freebies — the best example being the Open Road giveaway of last December. I only downloaded books I was actually interested in — still a couple of hundred — and I’m making my way through them … slowly. I do find that ALL books I buy/download benefit from reformatting in Calibre, so that also involves an investment of time. Still, I got some really great books and have already *bought* a few more Open Road titles.

    Comment by Kevin — August 11, 2017 @ 12:27 am

  8. You have a good plan there, Kevin.

    I can’t figure out how to make free work for me as an author.

    Comment by Maria — August 11, 2017 @ 7:24 am

  9. Actually, I read a lot less than I used to. I’ve too many people and animals to take care of by myself these days so the days get filled with boring stuff like dishes and mowing the lawn and (rarely) cooking and cleaning.

    Benjamin, I forgive you for buying more than you can read πŸ˜‰ I’ve no doubt that you buy them with clear intent to read them someday (even if someday is a long way off). From the article it seems as if lots of people just buy them because they are popular and don’t have any true desire to read them.

    Comment by April — August 14, 2017 @ 11:20 am

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