Thursday, June 09, 2005

Giving away a book... increases sales?

From Scholarly Communication, a newsletter prepared by University Librarian Paula Kaufman:

One of the most interesting presentations at this fantastic conference was given by Eve Gray, of Eve Gray & Associates. Gray was asked to study the publishing strategy of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in South Africa. This research institution had a traditional strategy of publishing lots of research books, and selling them. Gray convinced them to change their strategy­to give away all their research books for free online, and offer a high quality print-on-demand service for anyone who wants the paper version. The result: "the sales turnover of the publishing department has risen by 300%." As she concluded her presentation, "giving away books and lead to an increase in our book sales." There's much much more in her interesting analysis. She has generously offered it for downloading. Here's the press release. Lessig Blog 5/27/05

I seem to remember that this was similar to the case with the National Academies Press. Unfortunately, I cannot find or recall a citation at the moment.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Yup, NAP did a study on this very question and found it was good for business. One of the biggest problems for publishers is reaching their potential audience. Getting people's attention is hard when 195,000 new books hit the shelves in a year. According to the director of the U of Minnesota press, Google Print seemed a good idea for them because their market uses the Web so much - why not be out there where they could be found. The good news for publishers, though, is that for book-length texts, most people still want to read books in print and will pay for them. (Just look at how many copies of the 9/11 Commission Report that sold even though it was free on the Web.)

One thing I love about full text books online is that I can double-check a reference or page number when I'm trying to read my messy notes and no longer have the book ready to hand!