Piggybacking on Michael’s last post–a topic I was about to write about along with this till I realized he’d beat me to it–apparently Faber in the UK is also trying an interesting e-method to jumpstart book sales. Following in the footsteps of Radiohead’s experiment with their last album, Faber is making Ben Wilson’s What Price Liberty? available electronically six weeks before the hardcover is released with readers picking their own price. It’s an interesting strategy–and you’ve got to love the punny-ness of an experiment like this for a book with that title!–so I’ll be looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
If I love a book, I want it on my shelf. Even though I have a Sony Reader, I don’t buy books I expect to love electronically, but I might do it for a small amount of money as a preview. If I loved it, I’d buy the book itself. If I only found it mildly interesting (or not at all), I wouldn’t buy a hard copy for more money, though I suppose the publisher would at least have some money from me–and possibly more than if I’d gone into the store and read a few pages to see if I wanted it or never actually got around to going in to pick it up.
The key, then, would be to make sure books are utterly compelling and amazing, so people will get around to buying them and want to display them in hard copy. That’s something I can certainly get behind!
What do you think? If this became more common, would it encourage you to buy more? How much would you pay?
(For the record, I bought In Rainbows for about $5 thinking I’d go back and re-buy it for more money if I liked it, but then I didn’t. $5 seemed a reasonable amount for a band I adore that hasn’t put out an album I liked in over a decade. If they hadn’t done that, I’d probably never have spent a penny on it. So I guess the strategy works on me to some degree!)