In a variation of "buy one, get one," publishers are offering best-sellers for free on Amazon and other retailers. The latest is the Kindle version of James Patterson's "The Angel Experiment," a four-year-old release that is the first book of the "Maximum Ride" young adult series. It joins Greg Keyes' "The Briar King" and Joseph Finder's "Paranoia" as the biggest movers on Amazon.com's site in recent days.[...]
"The Angel Experiment" was originally released in 2005, and its free e-book release may have been timed to generate some buzz for the movie version, due next year. And that is exactly the point.
The idea of giving away the e-books is to boost the sales of others, which usually cost about $10 online.
Free e-books encourage consumers to try out new authors. Likewise, a free e-book that offers an in-depth interview with a famous author could prime the pump for paid sales of the writer's next work. In fact, authors could stand to benefit greatly from using one work to market another: Offering "The Angel Experiment" at no cost could be a very effective way of igniting excitement -- and ticket sales -- for the soon-to-be released film.I forgot how much fun marketing can be, even in an environment like today's in which products come and go at a rapid pace. I am one who refuses to believe that printed books are doomed. Perhaps I am overly sentimental about "real books," and my thinking is of the wishful variety, but I hope that the sales of e-books eventually will subsidize the printing and marketing of physical books for those of us who will forever prefer them over the bits and bytes we download for other reading devices.
I can't read e-books in bed and wonder just how anyone might do that in a way that doesn't jeopardize the life of the reading device when it slips from their fingers as they fall asleep. I can't tell you how many times I awake in the morning to find a book splattered on the floor on my side of the bed. I haven't counted, but I probably have 250 e-books now, of which I have read no more than 20. I find reading an e-book to be a totally different experience from reading a printed book. Reading in the e-book format is destined, for me, to remain a second choice, something that will only happen when circumstances make it impossible or impractical for me to carry a printed book with me.
I am, however, pulling for e-books to reach whatever sales level it takes for them to help publishing houses stay afloat, the more the merrier. But my first choice will always be books-on-trees.