Over the weekend came the news that Smashwords is rolling out the ability to pre-order its titles in the major bookstores. Yay? Or meh?
Before we get too excited, Michael Kozlowski asks the necessary follow-up question: Do people actually use this shopping method? Do you out there in Internetland actually pre-order books?
Kozlowski acknowledges that surely, some people do pre-order, or there wouldn’t be a demand for offering it. But he adds that booksellers have been less keen to exploit some of the incentives that movie, music and video game companies have for shelling out early.
From the article:
“If you order an album in advance, you normally get a bonus track; video games give you extra equipment or even new levels. Retailers give discounts on movie tickets when you pre-order a DVD or Blu-ray, or even a bonus disk.”
Personally, I remember a popular exercise video instructor who used to have a sliding scale for pre-orders, where there would be phases of increasing price: order at Phase 1 for the cheapest price quote, and then as you move closer to release day, the price steadily goes up to regular retail. I know others who include some frivolous but bullet-pointable extras such as message board support or printable schedules and plans.
And in the book world? Offhand, I can think of one pre-order promotion that actually worked, and that was the books by Sparkpeople founder Chris Downie. I am working off memory here, but I recall the first book including some pre-order goodies like an online workout video and bonus recipes, and the second book including an actual hard-copy DVD they would send you. Plus, you got ‘Sparkpeople Points’ for each purchase, which is a currency you can use on their site for various purposes. If you were an avid Sparkpeople user, this would be worthwhile to you.
I personally don’t pre-order books, even from authors I enjoy, because I am usually pretty confident that if it’s a best-seller, my library will get it and I can read it for free. The indie books I do actually buy tend to come my way already released and I can just buy them in the regular manner.
I also have a book service I subscribe to, the Toronto Star eReads, where I am automatically sent a new book every week. It is such a nominal subscription fee that I don’t even notice it ($1 per week) and I like getting the weekly email with a new book. There is another website I routinely visit which is developing a similar service, and although it’s a bit more pricey, it’s offering two books a week and some other features. I am very tempted.
To me, if I had to choose between a subscription service or a pre-order as the model of the future we should be embracing, I think the subscription service is the way to go. But I could be wrong.
Are there really a lot of people out there who pre-order e-books? Do you?