Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Would You Buy Essays Like You'd Buy Music? [You're The Expert]

So I came across this article at the New York times about trying out the iTunes model for Essays. Scribner has made 69 essays available for 99 cents each via Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Apple and the like. The hope is that people like me who will buy the one song off of the album that I like, would purchase the one essay out of a printed book that they like.

I happen to think that it's a clever marketing strategy, but don't know how practical it is. I mean, I've usually heard a song all the way through before I buy it, whether it be on Pandora, YouTube, or the radio. With literature, would I pay 99¢ to read someone's work if I wasn't familiar with it?  Would I want to read it before I bought it?  But then again, that's kind of like saying that I want to read a book all the way through before I buy it, or see a movie all the way through before I pay to see it, right?

As you can see, I'm still kinda on the fence. So tell me.  What do you guys think?  Do you think that paying a buck for an essay/short story would be a plausible way to quench your thirst for literature?  Would you pay 99¢ for an essay from someone you'd never heard of just to try them out?  Would you be more likely to sample more literature if it were broken up into more affordable prices?  Is it easier to commit to one story you might like than a whole collection of stories?

For the record, these were supposed to have started selling yesterday, but I have been unable to locate any to purchase.  I know it's just the beginning, but I would definitely be interested to see how the sales page is set up.  You?


Anonymous said...

I think it could lead to bigger purchases if I like the book. I think it would be like an excerpt... Something to get you to want to read it, like bait. You know? But I wouldn't buy it online...

E.J. Stevens said...

Ahhhh....the possibilities! As a reader I love the option to try out a new author. Or perhaps a new anthology is coming out, but I'm only interested in the short story my one author. Can I buy the one?

As an author I'm excited about the possibilities. Could I release individual poems before the entire collection releases? Would readers like to read my next novel as a serial?

Interesting post!
From the Shadows

Fi-chan (Bookish-Escape) said...

Sadly, no. I'm not rich, and I'm not a fan of e-books. Plus, I can listen to the music over and over again, while doing other stuffs, multitasking! But with reading, I like to read without doing anything else. Plus, not enough time recently. D:

Not ruling out possibilities though!

Lisa R/alterlisa said...

I don't like short stories (I want the whole enchilada!) and while I do buy anthologies that have short stories that are by authors that have series that I'm already familiar with, I'm not likely to buy one by an author that I'm unfamiliar with. A lot of authors offer the first chapter free on their site and I think this is a great way to attract new readers. And as the above reader mentioned. a song you can listen to 100 times. Who wants to read the same short story 100 times?

Reena Jacobs said...

I wouldn't purchase an essay. When I think of essays, I think of someone's paper for school. I'm also unlikely to purchase a short story for 99 cents. HOWEVER, I would purchase a novella or larger work for 99 cents and have done so in the past. In those cases, I've either had a referral from someone or I've read a short story or excerpt on their website. But would I blindly make a 99 cent purchase on an author out of the blue? Highly unlikely. I need some kind of teaser first or recommendation.

Like Lisa mentioned, a lot of authors offer freebies on their sites. I'm more than willing to purchase a novella by an author based upon freebies, if I like the style.

As for comparing music to reading material, I think it's apples and oranges. Most people don't read a novel repeatedly, yet they're willing to pay 8-20 bucks for one, sometimes more. I haven't purchased a CD for so long, I'm not sure how much they are, but I'll guess about $15. The price is comparable to a book, yet people listen to it over and over again. To me, a book is like going to the movies. I'll watch/read it once and feel like I got my money's worth if I enjoyed it. Music is more of the type of thing that grows on me. I guess the best way to put it is, a lot of songs are an acquired taste. :)

Like others mentioned, sampling leads to buying whether for music or reading material. Moira Rogers had a great post on why they give away their books for free (typically the first work in the series). Reel the reader in with the first, and they'll come back for the rest.

Anyway. That's my 99 cents on the topic. :)