Innovative Ways to Sell Digital Content

It seems like every week I read about a new online ebook retailer featuring a new twist.

tablet money

I recently told you about eBookPlus (see “Ad Supported eBooks“). This website allows readers to download and read ebooks for free, but the ebooks come with advertisements that the reader must view before each chapter.

Now, a new start-up, Total BooX, is offering ebooks for free, but charging customers for what they read. In other words, customers can download as many ebooks as they want and look at them. However, if they stay on a page of the ebook longer than 6 seconds, they are charged for reading the page. The charge is a fraction of the ebook price and based on how many pages the reader reads. In other words, if a customer reads 10 pages of a 100 page book priced at $10, he will pay $1.

With the recent data showing that most people only read about one-half of any given nonfiction book, maybe Total BooX has stumbled upon a brilliant idea. What better way to determine if you want to read a digital book fairly risk-free.

Gone are the days when you bought the whole print book and found out part-way through it wasn’t what you had hoped. Now, people can pay for just what they read—allowing them to take risks on more books.

Besides being an additional way to obtain revenue on ebooks, Publishers might benefit from a program like Total BooX. Knowing which pages in your books people read the most gives you feedback on what information people are most interested in.

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Ad Supported eBooks

Everyone would rather have a free ebook than pay for one. But, would you rather have a free ebook that comes with ads over paying for an ebook that has no ads?

eBookPlus recently conducted a study among 5,000 people in the United States and the United Kingdom. It looked at this question. Here is what the survey showed for U.S. readers:

  • 45.7% of readers would prefer free ebooks with advertising (in the form of a 15-second pre-roll at the beginning of chapters)
  • 20.8% prefer to pay $0.99 for an e-book without advertising
  • 9.1% would pay up to $2.99 for a version without advertising
  • 10.3% would pay up to $19.90 for a version without advertising
  • 14.1% prefer to download a pirate version

Interestingly, the company that conducted the survey is in the business of providing free ebooks to readers. However, to make the ebooks free, these ebooks contain advertisements. The CEO, Leo Mark, of eBookPlus believes that people are used to free content on the Internet, much of which is accompanied by ads. In addition, people don’t want to pay for something that does not belong to them. Since ebooks cannot be resold or given away, the reader is only paying for the right to read them, not own them.

What do you think? Would you offer your ebooks with advertisements so that readers could download them for free?

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