Free ebooks, are they harming the industry and devaluing authors?
I have been amazed at how many books I can get for free. Consider a reader who says, "I only have so much time to read and why pay for a book when I can find free ones offered daily?" This new marketing tool bothers me as an author.
I understand that some authors believe offering free books will grow their audience. After all, if customers read and enjoy their free books, they'll purchase other books from them and eventually the authors will profit. Other authors feel that when free ebooks are downloaded, it lifts their numbers and popularity, again with the hopes of greater success and profit. .
I have a hard time with this thinking. In the beginning, it seemed like an interesting idea, but with so many authors doing it now, the market has become glutted with free ebooks. I believe it cheapens the art and hurts authors who believe their skill has monetary value and, perhaps, even a livelihood.
No doubt our first responsibility to ourselves and our readers is to study our crafting and write the best book we can. Authors spend hours and hours writing, editing, proofreading, and struggling toward publication. Why devalue all that effort? Do artists give away their original paintings and prints in order to build their audience? Do songwriters give away their songs?
Perhaps, for some authors, writing is simply a much loved hobby and they want others to enjoy their creations. They have no desire make a profit on their work. Most published authors want to sell books. That's our business. Why devalue the process of writing, regardless of the reason? Do you know of any other career field that would do this?
I'd like to hear your views and if you have found that giving away free books has been a rewarding experience, please share. Perhaps you can change my opinion.