What is the Future of “Freemium” in Book Publishing?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

Today’s lead story looks at Flat World Publishing’s “freemium” model for publishing college textbooks. The model isn’t exactly new: authors ranging from Chris Anderson to Cory Doctorow to Seth Godin have long advocated giving digital or online-only editions away for free in order to entice readers to purchase print books. Big Six and other publishers have been experimenting along the same lines, sometimes giving away a free e-book edition of an author’s work in order to entice buyers to purchase the latest paperback or hardcover. To a lesser extent, the free sample chapters given away by publishers online are another example, albeit more modest of the freemium model (see Kevin Smoker’s discussion on PP of why publishers need better book samples here).

Certainly, the model has advantages. But do you see it expanding beyond the current manifestations? With so much free content available online will it become customary for authors to offer ¬†free e-book editions (over a short time frame, perhaps) to seed an audience? Is giving away a chapter enough? What works/what doesn’t?

Read our story and let us know what you think in the comments?

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.