What publishing a free e-book does to sales of the book
I just took Crime Against Nature down from Place where it’s been up for the last two months, and it seems like a good time to break down the money going out and coming in on the book for all those who’ve been asking.
Since I laid out the book myself, to create and print it, I paid:
- $1500 (or $1.50 per word) for the foreword
- $55 for the barcode and ISBN
- $6183 to print 250 copies (color printing for a 130-page book is spendy)
I set the price of the print version at $26, roughly the cost of printing. The Regional Arts and Culture Council grant of $4478 which I received for this project made my decision to sell the books at production cost feel right.
The print version of Crime Against Nature was just a start. It was a bit more work, but I knew that an e-book was unavoidable and that, furthermore, a French translation was too. In the end, I published the book through six outlets:
- the print version in English, available online and at the gallery during the show
- the Facebook photo album of the English e-book
- the Facebook photo album of the French e-book
- the English e-book PDF downloadable through a site which does not track users
- the English e-book PDF downloadable through my site
- the French e-book PDF downloadable through my site
In the space between the launch of the book on 7 November and the end of the exhibit at Place on 12 January, I have:
- given away 54 print copies to Kickstarter supporters and the press
- sold 67 print copies through my site
- sold 50 print copies through the gallery
- had 25 shares and 35 likes of the English Facebook photo album version
- had 1 share and 9 likes of the French Facebook photo album version
- had 794 trackable downloads of the English PDF
- had 39 downloads of the French PDF
- received $196 in donations for the two PDF versions
- enjoyed 11 conversions from a trackable free viewing to a purchase of the printed book
Furthermore, I’ve received countless emails telling me how vital this work is and thanking me for it. And this project was noted in three local papers (here, here, and here) and featured on BoingBoing as well as a number of other blogs (including this French one), all accolades which were possible only because the book was so easily accessible.
And yet, even though I just showed you all my numbers, I’m not ready to tally them for good. Because that’s the most important point about my art-as-book and book-as-art free culture adventure: this is just the beginning of the life of Crime Against Nature, and that’s not something that most artists can say about a project as they take down an exhibit.