RE: Do Online Books Increase Offline Sales?

Subject: RE: Do Online Books Increase Offline Sales?
From: Janet Valade <janetv -at- systech -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 08:19:12 -0700

Does anybody have any specific evidence that online versions of
books improve offline sales? Anything would be appreciated - hard
data and statistics are nice, but even anecdotal evidence from
publishing professionals would hepl.

This is an interesting question. There's a lot of change and debate going on
right now.

One example is The Linux Documentation Project.
They have some books on-line. I purchased one, the Linux Network
Administrator's Guide, because I needed all the info frequently and knew the
book is well written. I didn't want a bunch of printed pages. On the other
hand, I just print pages now and then from the other books, because I just
need to know an odd thing or two. I don't know if there is any official data
about the sales. Some publishers and book stores publish a list of their
best sellers. The Network Administrator's Guide is published by O'Reilly. I
doubt if he would publish it if he didn't sell any.

I have recently seen some info about an author who insisted on putting his
book online, over violent objections from the publisher, and he felt it
increased sales. I know it was a name author, who had the clout to insist on
his own way, but I can't remember who it is , so that's not much help for
you. I also have seen several stories lately about people who couldn't get
publishers to publish their book so they self-published online and made
money. Fatbrain has just started a new service where pubs are available to
download for a cost, with authors getting royalties on downloads, totally
bypassing the publisher.

There seems to me no doubt that putting part of a book online would help
sales. At least, part of a *good* book. When faced with needing a book,
often there are many and it's difficult to pick one. Especially online.
Online reviews by "readers" are not too useful. You don't know if the
reviewer is the author's sister or a lifelong enemy. Reading part of the
book lets you find out whether it is what you need or not. I just got an
interesting marketing item in the mail this morning. It's a mini version of
a book, Linux for Dummies. It's 4 x 5 (booklet format) and has the usual
cover, yellow and black. It contains the first two chapters. On the top, it
says, "Compliments of Alpha Processor, Inc." I thnk this is a clever idea.

You might check around studiob There's a lot of book
info there.


Janet Valade
Technical Writer
Systech Corporation, San Diego, CA
mailto:janetv -at- systech -dot- com

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