Free ebooks correlated with increased print-book sales

A new study from two academics at BYU tracking the sales of printed books following free ebook releases found that generally, a free ebook release is correlated with increased sales. Interestingly, the exception is for a group of ebooks that were released for a week and then withdrawn — part of's launch strategy, and a success in getting large number of people signed up to the site. Very nice to see some crunchy data in the mix.

Those who have advocated the release of free ebooks to boost print sales of book titles have been perennially dogged by arguments that they rely too heavily on the anecdote. That is, they tend to hype singular cases of success — the wayward example of a book's sales rocketing after the viral spread of its ebook counterpart online.

However John Hilton III and David Wiley have recently examined sales for 41 print titles before and after they were released online for free. This study was just published in The Journal of Electronic Publishing and is titled 'The Short-Term Influence of Free Digital Versions of Books on Print Sales'. They organized the books they studied into four groups; three of the four groups saw increased sales after the books had been made available for free.

New study shows some correlation between free ebooks and higher print sales

The Short-Term Influence of Free Digital Versions of Books on Print Sales

(Thanks, John!)