Why give a book away for free?

mindfire-cover-150Last week I decided to give away my new book, Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds, for free from my website, for 48 hours. Some have asked me why I would do this, as I’ve been a popular author and my previous books have sold well.

Here’s a list of reasons why:

  1. Platform. I could have sold some books, but by giving it away for a period of time I got extra PR and reach I would have had to pay for otherwise.  I tripled the size of my mailing list in just two days.
  2. Interest. It’s a way to generate interest in the book, and the wave of interest will outlast the 48 hour free period (at least I hope so :) Sales are slow today, but I’m betting the free readers will like what they read, and create a second wave of interest.
  3. The book is a collection of essays already online. I wanted to ensure my loyal readers didn’t pay for the book in digital form, since they’d read much of the book already. I wanted to avoid any fan saying “I didn’t realize and I paid for it – I feel like a sucker”.  Instead I want them to feel enlisted to spread my work, and making a new book free empowers them to do that.
  4. I’m a long-term author. I’m not worried about the sales of any particular book. I need to experiment and try different things to learn about how all this works so I’m smarter about how to create and market the work I do.
  5. I’d like to broaden my reputation. Mindfire covers a wide range of challenging topics not in my other books, and it will expand people’s perceptions of my abilities.  I’d gladly trade a pile of royalties (short-term) for an improved perception and wider fan base (long-term).
  6. Giving it away generates interest from people who want to know why an established author would do this :). It’s another way to gain attention for positive reasons.

You can download a free preview of Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds  (nearly 1/3rd of the content) right here.

The book is for sale on amazon.com (print / kindle), Barnes and Noble, Sony Nook and iBookstore.

Also see, Why I decided to self publish the book.

6 Responses to “Why give a book away for free?”

  1. miya

    hi, I am reading your new book, and planing to translate it into Chinese. Hope for contacting with you ASAP. my email is miyacui@yahoo.cn

  2. Manish Chhabra

    Thanks for the book. I have started reading it on train to work. So far I have read the first 3 topics “The cult of busy”, “Wants vs Beliefs” and “How to be a free thinker”. I really appreciate the way you write and engage your readers.

    Your decision to give away a book has probably worked for me. I will be buying your other books too. I can see so many appreciating reviews for your other book “Confessions of a public speaker” as well and now I can understand the reason.

    1. Scott Berkun

      Hi Manish: thanks for the comment and the vote of support for publishing this way. Hope you enjoy the rest.

  3. Phil Simon

    I have mixed thoughts about giving everything away. I make an MP3 and a big PDF available–as well as media copies, but can’t really give away the farm yet. I understand the benefits and might get there one day.

    Was it a no-brainer for you to do this?

  4. Antonio Santiago

    I follow your blog from some months ago and when see your free offer about the book no doubt 1 sec to go to download it
    I like the way you write. Some are essays and some other are synthesis of the reality, like the “There are two kinds of people: complexifiers and simplifiers”.

    Thanks !!!



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