How to Create a Kindle Best-Seller: Give It Away

Publishers are using free downloads to lure readers
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2010 10:38 AM CST
A Kindle.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, file)

(Newser) – The brave new world of publishing in the age of e-readers had led to this: More than half of the "best sellers" on Amazon's Kindle are actually give-aways. While some are classics in the public domain, many are new titles. Publishers are embracing the idea of free downloads as a way to generate buzz about an author—and maybe get people to buy her other books, reports the New York Times.

For example, the top two spots on Kindle's best-seller list this week belonged to Terri Blackstock, who writes Christian thrillers. She and her publisher earn nothing but publicity because both books cost $0 for the time being. Those who take part see the trend as just another form of promotion. Others are wary of what it means for the long run, especially for the fate of $25 hardcovers. “Penguin has not and does not give away books for free," says a spokesman. "We feel that the value of the book is too important to do that.”

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