Oprah Offers Free Download of Orman Book

Oprah is offering a free PDF download of Suze Orman’s book Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny from now until 8pm eastern time, February 14, 2008.

My download does not seem to have any massive security features attached to it, from what I can tell. And from the “We’re Relying on Good Heartedness” department comes this warning on Oprah’s site:

This book is copyrighted. You may view and download the file, but you may not copy the file or share or forward it to any other person.

This reminds me of a scene in Jumpin’ Jack Flash with Whoopie Goldberg wherein she uses a payphone for too long and the operator calls the phone asking for another quarter: “You want a quarter? FIND me in New York for your fucking quarter.” What’s stopping me from passing the PDF to everyone in my address book? Nothing – except for my opinion that Suze Orman’s advice financial advice isn’t worth much.

With discussions on piracy that are 300+ comments fresh in my mind, I have to ask, what’s the motivation to take a risk that someone, or many someones, will forward this book on to all and sundry? This download seems to be constructed of a curious mix of generosity, publicity, and experimentation.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Trollop says:

    Piracy= bad.
    Taking away money from authors= bad

    Paulo Coelho and another author are doing the same thing this month from another site. Their publisher is giving away free ebooks to see how that impacts book sales.

    Can’t wait to see the outcome.

    Oh, and another thing. I am an obsessive ebook buyer (ebooks are godsend for people that live in small countries like me.) Around these parts we have all of three titles to choose from and the paperbacks go anywhere from 15-25 dollars -sometimes more.

    I had NO idea people could download pirated ebooks (and I’m pretty computer/internet savvy). None, zip. After you guys posted about it last week my blog is getting a lot of hits on stuff like “where to get free ebooks” “downloading illegal romance books” “pirated ebook nora roberts” etc. Something that had never happened before.

    I think this, instead of having people see the wrong in the issue, has made people go crazy with the idea of getting books for free.

    Makes you wonder if it was best not to give it any publicity at all and let the RWA handle it. Dunno…

  2. 2
    SB Sarah says:

    Makes you wonder if it was best not to give it any publicity at all and let the RWA handle it.

    I had that same thought round about the time I got a dozen or so email messages from people who weren’t authors asking me where these evil sites were where one could get those free ebooks.

    But ultimately, whether or not we talk about it here or not, the practice still goes on, and I think it’s better to talk about it and define the parameters of individuals’ decisions on appropriate use in the face of emerging technologies, rather pretend it isn’t happening at all.

  3. 3
    kis says:

    She’s a celeb author and the book is nearly a year old, so I don’t think she’s risking huge amounts of sales on this one title. I think it could work for her, because of the publicity and consumer goodwill it will earn her. Might not cause a bump in her sales of this book, but it probably will help her next one.

    Don’t know if she’s being generous, or really really savvy. Considering she hangs with Oprah (spawn of eeeebil rivaled only by Rachael Ray), I’m guessing it’s the latter.

  4. 4

    SF seems to have taken the lead in this kind of idea, if you go to Baen Books’ site you’ll see novels up the wazoo, DRM-free and available for download.  Then there’s folks like Cory Doctrow who let go free digital copies with no strings attached. (other than attribution)

    The proponents of the idea look as the free copy as a form of advertising, as some percentage of people will be willing to buy the physical book, or the author’s next book, because they were exposed to the free copy.

  5. 5
    Charlene says:

    Suze Orman makes me want to punch something.

  6. 6
    Shaunee says:

    “Suze Orman makes me want to punch something.”

    Why?  I have no opinion of her financial advice myself, though I have seen her a couple of times on Oprah and thought, “wow, she’s really mean.”

    Is she Dr. Phil-ish?

  7. 7
    Jen says:

    I think it’s a gauge.  Given the amount of people rushing out to buy any Oprah-blessed book, this would be a wise thing to do in order to raise the profile of e-books altogether.  The number of people that would make the effort to download are probably a fraction of a percentage of the people who would buy.

    Suze Orman gets free publicity out of this, and the Oprah/publisher people get to put their name out there in the ebook market/do feasibility studies on testing the pulse as to whether it’s ready to explode or not.

  8. 8
    Barb Ferrer says:

    I have nothing of use to add except I love Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Sarah’s analogy made me snort Diet Coke up my nose.

    “I’m a little tiny black woman in a big, silver box!”

  9. 9
    Laura Kinsale says:

    I think there is a very big chance that publishing will go the way of television and the web itself (and the way music is trending)…free content supported by advertising revenue instead of royalties on sales.

    I haven’t looked at the Oprah d/l, but is the page or site it’s on got ads on it? 

    This seems to be working for constantly updated web-based content, but I don’t think the advertising-supported model will be a good thing for novels in general.  It will certainly make things more homogeneous, since advertisers don’t like to take chances with offending anyone.

  10. 10
    --E says:

    What S Andrew Swann said up above. SF has been testing the field for the past several years, and according to the authors who’ve tested it, giving away a book or two spurs sales of the books that aren’t available for free.

    Whether this model will continue to work for the long term is debatable. Right now the number of people doing the bulk of their book-reading onscreen is still negligible (though growing enormously each year).

    Also at question is whether this will work for nonfiction. SF/F were a good starting point because there are so many series.

    Aside from those issues, why the Suze hate? I love her. She’s straightforward. I don’t think she’s mean (certainly not in the way, say, Dr. Laura can be mean). Is it mean to tell people that they have to put effort into solving their problems?

    Her advice basically boils down to, “Stop living beyond your means, and plan for the future,” with side forays into “…and quit devaluing yourself.” What’s wrong with that?

  11. 11
    DS says:

    Amazon has free Kindle downloads of the book.

  12. 12
    Chicklet says:

    I see this as an experiment to see its impact on future sales of Orman’s book.

    I didn’t post this in the piracy thread (it was already at 280+ posts), but it seems germane: I think the reason people kept bringing up examples from the music industry and the SF/F publishing industry (decried as “apples and oranges” by many posters) was that the music, television and film industries have had to change their distribution models or even segments of their basic business models to accommodate new consumer behaviors brought about by the advent of the internet.

    There aren’t any examples from the romance industry because the romance industry hasn’t made the types of experiments Baen, Doctorow, and (now) Winfrey/Orman are trying.

    In other words, I think people interested in all book genres should pay attention to the outcomes of these experiments, because they may hold the seeds of future change for the entire publishing industry.

  13. 13
    Chicklet says:

    Gah, I meant to say “(dismissed as ‘apples and oranges’ by many posters)”! I have a brain like a steel sieve.

  14. 14
    DS says:

    I don’t know about her financial advice, but I saw a presentation by the author during a PBS pledge drive.  She reminded me of an infomercial in style, and somehow equating the state of my back seat or the untidiness in my closet with my financial skills made me laugh.  I’m much better with money than some tidier friends.

  15. 15
    Poison Ivy says:

    Suze Orman’s TV presentation style is increasingly bizarre and over the top, but her advice is sound. And she seems to have a genuine passion to help people be smart about money. 

    However, it’s not a pure market experiment to offer a free download of a book that is a year old, as was pointed out above. I’ve already taken it out from the library and read it, and so could anybody else who didn’t want to buy a hardcover book.

    It’s true that sometimes nonfiction hc trade books don’t come out in paperback for years and years (as witness Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus). As long as they’re selling in hardcover, they stay exclusively in hardcover.

    So the next question is, is this book still selling, and thus a gift that is welcome, or is this an attempt to get it to sell some more by drumming up new publicity?

    Either way, readers don’t lose, because there’s some good advice inside.

  16. 16
    Ann Bruce says:

    Orman’s advice is sound. Really, if you can’t afford something, don’t buy it. *shrug* That’s just common sense. *Ann whistles casually as she discreetly points at the mortgage meltdown*

    Off topic, Ms. Kinsale, what happened to THE LUCKY ONES?  Please, I’m dying here!

  17. 17
    Ann Bruce says:

    Giving e-books away is great publicity…as long as (1) e-books sales do not comprise 100% of your sales and (2) you already sold the bulk of your sales.

    JA Konrath convinced his publisher to give away a few thousand e-copies of his early books because print sales had tapered to insignificant numbers and he wanted to entice new readers.

  18. 18
    Micki says:

    I think it’s a smart idea. Lots of people HATE reading off the computer. They’ll download some, then go out and buy a hard copy that they can read in the bathroom.

    It’s really not much different than having a book in the library, except you get more word of mouth (would Suze have gotten a mention here if she simply put free copies in the library?), and the convenience factor of a library book is often better than the hassle of a download.

  19. 19
    Jules Jones says:

    While we’re pointing at free ebooks in the sf sector—Tor’s currently offering an ebook a week to people who sign up for their newsletter over the next few weeks.  The next one up is Scalzi’s book. (I think they need to iron out a few wrinkles in the sign-up process, because I still haven’t received my acknowledgement…)

    They’re trying to get sign-ups because they’re busy building shiny new toys for the website. They won’t say what prior to launch, but I have my suspicions from gossip that’s been floating around. I signed up so I could get first look at that. :-)

  20. 20

    I’m one of those people who hate to read off the computer. Gives me a screaming headache.

    Anyway, maybe I’m missing something, but how is this any different from the UBS? I know for myself, for the first decade that I read romances I never bought new. Simply couldn’t afford it. So I always bought my books from the UBS. I knew that the writers didn’t get any money for them, but the UBS and the library were my only options.

    Now, I know that electronic files are far more accessible than an actual book at the UBS, but I just don’t understand the paranoia. Maybe I’m missing something.

  21. 21
    Chrissy says:

    I would much rather read the Romance Divas’ Second Annual Free Ebook Read challenge stories.  (Cue shameless promotion blush.)

    Erm… here:

    http://www.romancedivas.com/ebook2008.html

    thbbb!!!

  22. 22
    kis says:

    Roslyn,

    The difference lies in the fact that a UBS has one copy that gets bought and resold. One electronic copy can essentially become thousands and thousands with little to no effort or expense on the part of the copier.

    A UBS will lose an author maybe 10 sales before the book falls apart and must be repurchased. An ebook that is available for download—illegal or otherwise, may never have to be purchased again by anyone.

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