So 13 days in and Spoil of War is still free, despite my best efforts to unfree it. On the day it went free on Amazon I immediately repriced it on Smashwords, who distributes to Apple, expecting Apple to reprice the book within 2-3 days and Amazon to stop the free price-match by Day 5 or 6 at the latest. Apple still has it listed for free.
So, after Day 13 at Amazon:
#2 Historical Fantasy
#5 All Fantasy
#9 Historical Romance
#37 All Romance
#133 Overall in the Amazon Free Store
Times Downloaded: 15,034
at Apple after Day 18:
#1 Historical Fantasy
#9 All Fantasy
Historical Romance - Not on the Top 10 Free chart, but the book is listed in the Top 100 What's Hot, which includes only 7 free books.
Times Downloaded: Wish I knew, but I'm not provided that data in real-time. Maybe at the end of the quarter they'll let me know. Or not. Clueless as to how they report out free downloads.
After neglecting Apple as a retailer until 3 weeks ago, I'm beginning to develop a real affection for the iBooks/iTunes store.
|Ooh, first position under What's Hot and #1 under Top Charts - Free in Historical Fantasy.|
Still, as a marketing effort, I'm quite happy with how successful the campaign has been so far. I wanted it free in the first place for two reasons:
- To capitalize on visibility and hopefully pick up a few extra sales when it went back to its unfree status
- To garner a few more reviews to offset the rash of negative ones.
What's interesting is how diverse the review communities are between Apple and Amazon.
At Amazon, anyone registered at the site can rate any product whether they've purchased and used/read it or not. Same for Apple. But you have to download the iTunes app first and launch the app if you want to rate something that you're not currently reading. That helps cut down on the "drive by's."
Like BN and Goodreads, Apple allows customers to simply rate a book without obligating them to write something. This encourages more ratings overall but doesn't make it as community-friendly.
Amazon cultivates a more open review community, which also opens it up to abuse of the system: sock puppets, paid reviews, review exchanges, boycott reviews, revenge reviews, etc. The only way to neutralize any of these abuses is to have a large pool of reviews for a given book.
Because I know Spoil is a well-written, well-proofed and well-formatted book, I was not afraid to open it up for wider consumption in hopes of more reviews.
What's happened is that, at Amazon, where reviewers are exposed to other reviews, the ratings continue to be mixed. A dozen new reviews have been posted since the book went free, with 25 total reviews now.
3 5-star - 8 total
3 4-star - 5 total
2 3-star - 3 total
4 1-star - 9 total
Even if the balance remains 50/50, from a psychological standpoint the number of positive reviews will now feel more legitimate to readers.
At Apple, where there is less peer-pressure, it's a completely different story. Spoil had no ratings before it went free 3 weeks ago. The rash of 1-star reviews that showed up on Amazon in August/September in response to a blog's reviews of the book didn't affect the iBooks store. As of
Any conclusions we draw from this are only anecdotal, of course. We don't have enough to go on for any across-the-board observations. What it appears, though, is that books are little different from any other marketing targets. How the product is presented is as big an influence on the consumer as how the product actually performs. People like to be part of the "in" crowd. If 4-out-of-5 dentists agree that Brand X is the best, are you really going to disagree with the experts? Really?
How influenced are you by reviews? Do you generally like a bestseller more because it is a bestseller and everybody likes it? Have you ever decided not to read a book that sounded interesting and had a good sample but the reviews were poor?