Kindle bestsellers don’t cost a thing

Kindle with a bookIt’s not a revolutionary concept. You want some visibility so you offer what would normally be a paid service or product for free. As word of mouth grows, you bump the price back to normal levels, occasionally higher, and profit. Easy enough.

That’s what many book publishers are starting to do with titles on the Kindle, the New York Times reported this weekend. The article focuses on Maureen Johnson, an author whose young adult fiction has climbed as high as number three on the Kindle best-selling charts. It’s being run for free on the device to drive interest in her upcoming sequel, which will release this February.

While some publishers – Random House and Scholastic for two – embrace the free model, others, like Hachette, find it “illogical.” They believe the price of ebooks is already too low, so why go any lower? In fact, a lot of publishers delay ebook publication for a few months after a book’s release to capitalize on hardcover sales.

Obviously, as time goes on, we’re going to see publishers get more and more creative to keep profits up in the face of lower prices for retail media.