Free digital content continues to be the lure that drives consumers to print, as Global Voices Online aptly demonstrates with a view of free poster child, Paulo Coelho:
Brazil’s highest worldwide selling author, Paulo Coelho, is a great supporter of the e-book. According to him, the free distribution of e-books actually encourages paper books sales, because readers start reading on their computer and as soon as they become engaged in the story they run to the bookshops to buy them, as they still prefer reading on paper.
Shortcovers shows another dimension of the same strategy with the promise of simultaneous online (free) and offline (paid delivery). From Tools of Change Blog:
Adding “buy the print version” to the iPhone equation might be shortcovers’ biggest contribution to the mobile reading market. Sure you can buy books from Amazon’s iPhone app, but you can’t also buy/read an electronic version at the same time…
Is this tactic future-proof? (I do shudder when I write that phrase but it’s Monday and apparently I’m thinking in jargon.) Using digital content as a teaser (even if it’s the full version) works for me. I recently purchased a book after perusing the free, full HTML version. But my preferred medium is print—is the next generation going to be the same?
These marketing strategies depend on low consumer migration to electronic preference. We’re imagining print books to be akin to vinyl rather than to compact discs.
Will this assumption bear out over time? Not for everyone—and that’s why cross promotions like this one between Sony and Harlequin are genius. The free content on here promotes a brand/author—not another medium.