Patterson is among the biggest brands added to the growing list of free e-book offerings. Over the past few months, top sellers on the Kindle — with downloads in the tens of thousands, authors and publishers say — have included such public domain titles as Pride and Prejudice and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and novels by Jennifer Stevenson and Greg Keyes.The key seems to be to link a free book with a paid-for one. According to Maja Thomas, senior vice president of digital media at Patterson's publisher, the Hachette Book Group, said. "It's like priming the pump."
According to Scott Shannon, publisher of the Del Rey/Spectra imprint at Random House, Inc., Del Rey has had “especially good luck with Naomi Novik's Temeraire fantasy series after offering the first book for free. He said sales for the other Temeraire novels increased by more than 1,000%. "It's been stunning," he said.”
With free e-books comes the question of how this affects best-seller lists. Amazon give free e-books visibility by including them on the Kindle best-seller lists. Sony does not.
Then there are questions by authors. Some see it as a good way to build readers. Some are a bit worried. Joseph Finder, whose thriller Paranoia was a free e-book in 2004, saw his sales of his other books go up. But he’s also a bit worried.
"I get a lot of e-mails from people, saying, 'I hadn't even heard of you until I read your free book.' So no question, it does bring in free riders," Finder said. "But I'm also increasingly concerned. There are so many free e-books that basically you could stuff your Kindle or Sony Reader with free books and never have to buy anything."What do you think?