When you say “the books are free if you want,” you get a lot of strange looks from people. You’ll get stranger ones when you say the books can be free and never have DRM. I feel strongly about giving back and about making it easy to share, so my books will always have a free option with no content or value removed. That’s right, the book is 100% the same if you pay or use a discount code.

But let me clarify.

The downloads aren’t so much ‘free’ as ‘Pay what you want.’

Originally all my ebooks were free, pay if you want. While I still strongly feel that the freemium model has it’s place, the end result is about 3% of people who downloaded the book actually paid. Now I don’t think the problem here is compensation, I never intended to make it rich with this, but my original goal in 2011 was to get my name out there.

Well if the number of downloads is any count, that sure worked!

It came back to the real root of the problem: obscurity. If a hundred people take my book and give it to one person each, that’s two hundred people who’ve read (or looked at) my works. People don’t not buy a book because it was free, they don’t buy a book because they don’t know about the book.

How did you learn about your favorite band? You heard a song for free, on the radio or a friend gave you a mix tape (oh fine, a playlist) and you decided you liked it.  Your friend may have ripped you a copy.  My first tapes were copies of something a friend had bought or copied.  We didn’t pay for things at first.  But then that new CD came out, and we ran to the store, pooled our money, and bought “Use Your Illusion” disks one and two.  And then we bought more works by that artist.

The idea isn’t ‘give it away!’ but ‘let people read it.’  And DRM, I feel, cripples that.  If I can’t share what I like with people, they’ll never read it.  Saying that giving a book away means people won’t buy it just sounds stupid.  So a library never inspired someone to buy a book?  Giving something away lets you read it, share it, and talk about it.

Yes, I know. Selling a book without DRM presents the likelihood of having a significant percentage of my ‘market’ read without paying. 97% of people did that for almost two years. But how many of you would have even bothered to read it without? And with electronic media, you can give away millions of copies at little cost to you, but are those people who would have found and read my book anyway? See the vicious circle?

I know you’re just going to make that mix tape anyway.

So here’s my deal. The ebooks are still free if you use one of the coupons. The real difference now is that the default is for you to pay, and with that one small change, 30% of you bought the books. You can pay less if you want, and the lowest price you can pay is a whopping $0.99 USD by using the discount code PIGS. That’s ninety-nine cents which means it’s less than Angry Birds. For that price, you get a DRM free full blown copy of my ebook, which means you can give it to your friends or clients, share it, quote it, edit it. Some books prohibit you from selling, others don’t, but they all have a license which requires you to release the books under the same license.

It’s totes okay to buy for a client (or to expense the cost back to them), though. Or give it to ’em free as part of your normal costs. I mean, you bought it, right?