I recently came across a great webcomic. Like most webcomics, the overwhelming majority of it was available for free online. But every five chapters or so, the creators would show a teaser for a book-only chapter. “Damn!” I thought. “These guys are clever. Guess I’m buying some ebooks!”
They made a smart business decision, and I have no problem with it. In fact, I applaud it! Adding extra material to a story the reader already loves is a great way to move books. That’s why I own the physical copies of Order of the Stick, and I love them. They were worth every penny.
So I went to see how much an ebook would cost, hoping I could throw them a couple of bucks for each chapter I couldn’t read online…and I ended up disgusted. $5 for a single chapter that would take maybe ten minutes to read. For $10 I could have an ebook of that + the four other chapters I had already read.
I have no problem with a creator trying to make money off their work. I intend to do it myself, and I will happily fork over money to help creators I want to support…as long as it feels like the purchase is worth it.
In this situation, I felt like I was getting ripped off. I wanted to know what was in those stories, but $5 for 10 minutes of entertainment? I could get more value out of a nice pint of beer, and beer isn’t usually considered a monetarily efficient form of entertainment.
There are many tactics salespeople and marketers can use to increase sales and maximize their profits which will work, but will leave a bad taste in their customer’s mouth. That’s nice in the short-term, but it’s poison in the long-term. You might get a few extra bucks out of one customer, maybe even enough to make up for lost sales, but they won’t be happy about it, and they won’t tell their friends. That’s why I’m not naming the offending webcomic, because I don’t feel like sending them any traffic right now. That’s why I happily told you that I’ve bought all the Order of the Stick volumes, and love them, because the value was there.
This may not be helpful to any of you, but it’s a valuable reminder for me. When I start selling books, I’ll try to give you more value than the price I charge, and if I ever screw up, I’ll do what I can to fix it.
As a marketer, I’d rather make less money and have my customers leave with a smile. As an author, that goes double.