The New York Times says, “Earlier this week ... the No. 1 and 2 spots on Kindle’s best-seller list were taken by “Cape Refuge” and “Southern Storm,” both novels by Terri Blackstock, a writer of Christian thrillers. The Kindle price: $0. Until the end of the month, Ms. Blackstock’s publisher, Zondervan, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, is offering readers the opportunity to download the books free to the Kindle or to the Kindle apps on their iPhone or in Windows.... Publishers including Harlequin, Random House and Scholastic are offering free versions of digital books to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other e-retailers, as well as on author Web sites, as a way of allowing readers to try out the work of unfamiliar writers. The hope is that customers who like what they read will go on to obtain another title for money.”
The thing is, I don’t think anyone knows if this is a good idea or not. A sample of a new corn chip in Costco may whet my appetite and encourage me to buy a whole bag [which I will later regret, but still]. But a whole book? Does it really encourage buyers? Or does it cause people to further mentally devalue ebooks, meaning they won’t want to pay much for them and see nothing wrong with pirating them?