Thursday, February 28, 2013

Are we enjoying a golden age of reader rewards?

Photo credit: Morguefile


Remember life before the internet? 

Shopping for books meant going to a bookstore. There was no online shopping. Some book club mail order services existed, and there was poking through piles of used books at garage sales, but by and large book shopping meant browsing what was in the bookstore. Sometimes there was a sale, but typically the full retail price was the standard.

Now readers are no longer restricted to what happens to be on display within the limited confines of a physical store. An expanding universe of print and digital books fills millions of retail listings online.

On top of this colossal selection, much of it in stock and ready to ship or download, readers also get access to self published writers like never before. Digital technology means writers don’t need a publisher to print and distribute physical books. Writers are going straight to market, and many readers have enjoyed these indie novels that up until a few years ago would have been blithely ignored by everyone in the publishing business.

But wait. There’s more!

Because there is so much selection and talent jamming the marketplace the competition is relentless and authors frequently promote themselves with book and ebook giveaway drawings. Plus there are raffles for gift cards and all kinds of lovely gadgets. A reader could honestly spend all day entering giveaways. Goodreads has a whole section devoted to book giveaways. Recently I won 3 ebooks and I did not even recall entering a drawing. I must have done it while commenting at a blog. Anyway I was still pleased to win some new novels to check out. I daresay that a reader could keep the to-read list full for free from these giveaways.

In addition to drawings there is the glut of free ebooks in the marketplace. 

Crunched by competition, authors seek readers with free samples. Please just look. It won’t cost you anything to look! Free samples are a tried-and-true marketing tactic, but free ebooks are really more than a little box of detergent or a mini spoonful of ice cream. They are whole novels that can deliver hours of entertainment.

Most of this promotional largess has really taken hold in the last three or four years. From a reader perspective giveaway drawings and an endless supply of free ebooks introduce more serendipity into book discovery. Years ago there was much less of this. You could browse a few shelves at a book and perhaps find something interesting. You could ask a store to order a good book a friend recommended and wait weeks for it to arrive or worse yet be told it was out of print. Mostly you had limited access and nearly zero author or publisher contact.

Now the barriers are few and the selection is marvelous. 

Sellers are putting on an endless carnival of bribery to woo readers. Corralling readers into stodgy retail systems with no prizes might be a thing of the past.

Book shopping is becoming more like visiting a business convention and filling your bag with promotional items from each booth. What do you think? Do you like all these buzz-craving promotions or do you skip all that stuff and just quietly browse titles? 

After you comment, please go exploit my desperate attempts for attention and download a free ebook

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