I set both books to be free this weekend, A Gift of Ghosts free today and tomorrow, and A Gift of Thought free on Sunday and Monday. I did nothing about mentioning them to anyone, mostly because I’ve told everyone I know about the books at least two or three times already and submitting to the sites that list free books has never, to the best of my knowledge, accomplished anything for me. So I set them free and let it go. (I love the image I just had of the books flying away into the sky, soaring on the wind, up into the clouds. Ha. Wouldn’t it be cool if books came with wings? Ghosts would look lovely with white angel wings and Thought would be very cool as a raven.)
Anyway, no surprise, very few copies have been downloaded this morning. Total free downloads was 13 when I checked. But funnily enough, 13 copies downloaded over more than 4 hours was actually enough to put Ghosts onto the free bestseller list, at #6,896. Not a niche bestseller list at that number, but the main one. That has to mean that there are less than 10,000 books free on Amazon right now. And that I find fascinating.
I checked the bestseller list and it contains the usual suspects — Tolstoy and Dickens and the Bible — which means it’s not likely that Amazon has started eliminating perennially free books. They could do that if they wanted to, and I’ve wondered if they would someday since there’s an incremental cost to them in providing those downloads. The hundreds of free downloads a day, every day, of A Tale of Two Cities, never earns Amazon a penny, so if you accept their estimate of costs as being real costs, then they’re probably spending $10/day to give Dickens away. (I’m going by the .06 download fee they charge me for each book downloaded.) That’s nothing, of course, for them and when they were growing the Kindle market, the advantage of having classic books available was obviously worth the expense. Probably it always will be.
So if the small number of free books isn’t because the classics are gone, therefore did Amazon crack down on people using price-matching to give away free books? A quick check of one that I know is price-matched shows that it’s still there, so nope.
I think that adds up to there simply not being nearly as many free books on Amazon as there used to be. Or, of course, it could be the day–that most publishers and authors decided the biggest shopping day of the year wasn’t the right day to go free. I’m intrigued to see what Monday will be — will there be more free books or fewer? Monday is the day when people are supposed to be shopping online, of course (the famous Cyber Monday), so I would have thought it a good day to give away books. It’ll be interesting to find out.
I’m not sure what conclusions I have. None, I suppose, except that the day of plentiful free books might be over. Maybe people have decided it’s not worth giving them away.
PS SPOILERS Colin and Rose are currently flirting over Colin’s dead body and oh, my, it’s amusing me. First time I’ve felt enchanted while writing A Gift of Time, and it’s such a great feeling.