Here’s a blog post from Nathan Henrion, a midlist publisher who made a title available on Amazon as a free e-book. He reported seeing the sales rate of the second and third books in its series increase at a rate of 20 to 1. He says that digital sales make up 1/5 of the total sales of this particular series so far, and are growing.
Much of the talk by the big 6 publishers has been stress over cannibalization of print sales, or the idea of replacement sales, by ebooks. For midlist publishers such as ourselves, I believe we fight against substitution. We capture the “browser” market. If our title is not available or visible, a customer will simply substitute for another one in the genre. Free gave us the visibility that we could not purchase.
Funny how publishers just keep discovering this anew, isn’t it?