Episode 141 – Merchandising, Rented Books, and the Page-Read Recession

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Question of the Week: Would you rent an ebook?

With Bryan off hanging out with his new baby, Sheridan Stancliff joined the show to chat about tips on InstaFreebie ARCs, collaborations, and merchandising. After thanking their Patron-sponsored books of The Ten-Year Turnaround, Removed, and How to Drive Your Next Car Deal, Sheridan and Jim discussed news about a new app making waves in Croatia, a surge in creativity for digital comics, changes in Amazon’s pre-order policy, how KU free runs may not be as lucrative as you think, and why rented books could become a big deal. This week’s Question of the Week: Would you rent an ebook?
What You’ll Learn:
  • How authors can use InstaFreebie to build up book reviews
  • How writers can improve author rankings with collaboration
  • How authors can use merchandising to increase profits
  • How a new reading app could help Croatia close the digital divide
  • How the decline of newspaper comics led to a surge in creativity
  • How authors can benefit from Amazon’s new pre-order policies
  • What one author’s sales data show about page-reads during KU free runs
  • How a Google Play Book’s promotion is changing how YA fans read


Question of the Week: Would you rent an ebook?

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  • Simon Goodson

    Congrats Bryan! So glad everyone is doing well. Now you know what all us parents meant when we said everything would change. 🙂

    • Bryan

      Thanks! Yes I do 🙂

  • Simon Goodson

    When Jim was saying Amazon might get out of selling books I think he’s wrong (and he isn’t often that). Amazon used books as a way to draw people in at the beginning, and Amazon are all about keeping people within their store. Books might not make them much money, but would they really want someone else to have the chance to use books as the thin end of the wedge in the way Amazon did way back when?

    • Bryan

      It would be like the Roman Empire all over again!

  • Simon Goodson

    Would I rent an ebook? Maybe, if I got it for a month. Or maybe three weeks. Anything less and it’s just not worth the hassle. Even Amazon rentals last more than a day!

    At the moment it would need to be dumped onto my kindle paperwhite too, but I’m guessing the day is coming when even e-ink devices will run apps happily and then that won’t be such a problem.

    • Bryan


  • Amar Vyas

    First of all, Bryan, Congratulations,

    Now coming to the question: I would prefer to rent the book any day. In my opinion, it is the reading experience that matters, and this is not very different from Pay Per View, or watching a movie in a theater… or even renting from a library. It is the experience that stays with you. In any case, ebooks make sense here in India, because give the cost of real estate the cost of space occupied by books is tens of times higher than the cost of the books. Renting would be the natural progression.

    How will this affect the authors? As long as they get a fair share of the revenues, (what is the right forumla, I am not sure) it should not matter to them.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Amar!

  • ebook rentals are not competition for ebooks: they are competition for paperback and hardback books. If the next super-popular book is available for $20 vs. a $1 rental, more people will be tempted to rent it. I think it’s a ploy to get people who don’t read many ebooks into the habit. The success of the program will all depend on which books are available for rental and for what price they are available otherwise.

    • Bryan

      Good point, Jonathan.

  • On the subject of page reads going down during a free promotion, it sounds like the free downloads don’t contribute to KU-page-reads. Even a KU reader might just buy the book for free, then read it as a regular purchase and not through KU. That’s speculation on my part, though.

    • Bryan

      I think what they’re saying though is that even when someone hits the KU download button, authors may not get as many pages read as they did when the book was paid.

  • Yes, if it were similar to Netflix DVDs in that I’m not pressured with a return date. I listen to about 30 audiobooks a year and don’t care to own them. I’d pay the same monthly fee to Audible if I could rent a few each month. I don’t even save them on my harddrive. They’re stored in their cloud.

    On another note, I don’t think we value owning eBooks like we do physical books. I probably own 100 books on World War II alone. I’ve read nearly all of them but they also look great on my bookshelf, and I use them for research. If, God forbid, I lost them in a fire or something, I wouldn’t attempt to replace them, and I’d probably no longer purchase physical books at all. Here’s a little game: Look at all the books in your home. If someone offered you $____ cash for all them, how much would it take?

    • Bryan

      $50. 🙂

  • I find it hard to differentiate this idea of renting an ebook to the facilities already available through existing lending libraries, all of which offer better conditions to the readers we all hope to attract.

    • Bryan

      Libraries don’t have great apps though.

  • Congratulations, Bryan!

    Regarding renting books, I’m a KU subscriber, so I’m basically renting books all the time. I mean, I can keep them as long as I want, but if I want more than 10, I’ve got to give it back. Even though I’m a fast reader, I wouldn’t rent a book for 24 hours. That is too much pressure. That’s also why though I’ve tried getting ebooks from the library, it just doesn’t work for me. They never have the books I want available, and then when they do become available, I’m not in the mood to read them anymore. I’ve been trained for book instant gratification and I’m okay with that.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Leslye! Good points.

  • QOTW – Renting books for 24 hours is weird unless there’s a hook to allow them to buy at the end f the rental period? Can they just keep it another day and keep paying day after day? Still too much pressure for books.

    • This is almost as weird as that airline that gives you like three free chapters while you’re on the plane? I guess it’s for people who don’t know any better.

      • Bryan

        Those airlines are such a tease. It’s like giving only 3 peanuts at a time!

    • Bryan

      Yeah, 24 hours wouldn’t be enough for most people.

  • Bryon, congratulations to you and your wife for bringing a new author into this world. On ebook rentals: As long as authors are fairly reimbursed by those renting the author’s ebooks to the public, I have nothing against it. I just wish it was easier to get indie books into libraries.

    Meet Christmas

    • Bryan

      Thanks so much, JB!

  • Congrats, Bryan! Hope the family is doing well.

    On the issue of “renting” books, I’m not sure why this is considered such a new concept. Isn’t this what libraries have been doing for decades? How is it different? Except for the time frame of 24 hours — which is not long enough to read anything — I can do the same thing at my library, where I get many of my print & digital books because I could never afford my habit. 😉

    • My library actually rents books that are new and in high demand. Of course it’s for weeks, not hours. 😉

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Monica!