By Jenny Hilborne
Author of Mysteries and Thrillers
Who has at least one item of clothing in their closet or one pair of shoes they've bought and never worn? We see a bargain and buy it, but it's not a bargain at all if we never use it. These are often impulse buys. The same thing applies to books. With so many offered free or at low promotional prices of less than $1, we're downloading more than ever before. Are we reading these books? Does buying more mean we are reading more?
I buy loads of books. My Kindle currently holds 179 items, many of which I haven't yet read. I love e-Readers for their portability, the ease with which we can take hundreds of books with us when we travel, and the fact the digital books are so inexpensive to download. Reading is easier and cheaper than ever before, and we have far more choices available to us, including genres that might never have emerged without the changes in the publishing industry.
With new genres should come new readers, you might think. But how many new readers has the digital explosion created, or are many of them existing physical book readers who have switched to digital?
Everyone loves to get something free or at a fraction of the cost. Marketers know it and use this strategy to give us what we want. They play on consumer emotions and affect our purchasing decisions by guiding us toward products we might not be seeking. Authors offer promotions to entice readers and grow their readership. Is it working?
Does the free or low price of an eBook entice you to make spur of the moment decisions and download a book you might never have considered, or one for which you would never pay the full price? If it does, what are the chances you will read it? Do these books sit stored and forgotten in your eReader, like that pair of bargain shoes gathering dust at the back of your closet? Or does the sweet deal of a free or cheap book stir up your passion for reading?
Books are not big ticket items, so we can afford to give in to our emotions and buy based on those emotions rather than on rational decisions. If we go into a bookstore, we might take hours choosing a book, one we will pay a lot more money for and will almost certainly read. Free and cheap provides instant gratification and encourages impulse buys; quick and irrational decisions. Downloading takes seconds, and we don't even need a bookshelf to store all those books. How likely are consumers to use (read) products they bought based on an irrational decision?
EBooks continue to be popular. But are we loading up our eReaders for no reason? Many readers complain in various online forums that they have TBR (to-be-read) lists that will take them years. So, what are the chances that many of these free and cheap books will ever be read? When the pleasure of a free download wears off, do most readers forget about the book, or discover they don't want the product after all?
Does free or cheap turn you off? Or does it encourage you to try a new author or a new genre? Has the eReader increased your enjoyment of reading? Does paying less for your hobby encourage you to buy more...and does this mean you read more?