It’s hot and stormy. How about some free books?

Bleak MidwinterIt’s hot in the northeast, freakishly stormy in the plains, and just plain summer just about everywhere else. So, what better thing to do that read free ebooks?

If you’ve been thinking about trying Julia Spencer-Fleming’s highly lauded series in the Rev. Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mystery series (known in my brain as Rev. Kickypants and Detective Angsty Thundershorts), which, in June, reaches book #6, here’s your chance.

In a move that is rather awesome in its simple brilliance, Macmillan is offering the first two books of the series from today until 12 June for free. Yes! Free! So if you’ve wanted to start the series and the prospect of buying six books and reading through is a little financially daunting, the publisher made it very sweet and easy to get hooked on Rev. Kickypants.

Fountain Filled with BloodMy understanding is that Kickypants and Thundershorts have some hot growing and sustained attraction, you know, in addition to that whole solving crime thing. However, I haven’t read the series, so I’m going on what other folks have said.

Signing up (which probably adds you to their mailing list) yields PDFs of the two books but if you’re like me and you’ve already filled your pitcher with the Kindle-Aid, you can download In the Bleak Midwinter and A Fountain Filled with Blood Kindle editions for the lovely price of $0.00.

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  1. 1
    amy lane says:

    ah, something to do when I get home… (my work firewall keeps out everything interesting—including 3/4 of your advertisers!)  Thanks for the heads-up!

  2. 2
    SonomaLass says:

    Our weather is just perfect here in Wine Country, but that doesn’t stop me from getting new books! 

    This free e-book thing is terrific, and as a consumer, I can tell you that it’s working.  I read Touch of Evil because it was a free download from Tor, and then I went out and bought the sequel, Touch of Madness.  Before that I had only registered the books’ existence in the cover art contest (and I hated the TofM cover, still do).  So I can honestly say that thanks to the freebie, I bought a book that I otherwise would not have.  I suspect this series by Julia Spencer-Fleming could hook me, too.  And I’m dang sure that if I hadn’t already joined the Bridgerton fanclub, having The Duke and I available on-line for free would have done the trick.

    So put me in the group that votes yes to free downloads of older books as a marketing tool!

  3. 3
    Sandia says:

    awesome!  i love the immediate satisfaction with the kindle of getting it right a way instead of having to wait for st. martin’s to send me the pdf.

  4. 4
    RStewie says:

    Squee-ness!  I’ve got these on my Paperspine TBR, but this is fabulous!  I’ll take these two off my list, and move the rest up on my e-pile!  I’m so glad people are taking advantage of e-books as a way to market.  I might love a good paperback, but I’ll take a free e-book any day!

  5. 5
    megalith says:

    Just wanted to add my recommendation for this series. It kicks all kinds of ass, and I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting as each installment comes out. Not that it’s not totally worth it.

    So excited for this new one!

  6. 6

    I was just looking at an article in the New York Times about whether or not ebooks will be hurting the book industry, and I wonder myself. I suppose as a marketing ploy when you know there’s a sequel in the works it could encourage sales for the sequel, but I wonder what the likelihood is that putting free ebooks out there would encourage sales of that book itself (electronic or otherwise)? While, as a college student, I love the possibility of getting free books, I know lots of students who wouldn’t buy a book if they can get it for free. I imagine publishers have contingency plans for that reason though.

  7. 7
    Laurie says:

    I have to agree that offering the older/earlier books in a series has encouraged me to buy the later books – it’s really great to be able to read the first one to see if it grabs me.  And I have to say that although I’m not a student, I will most likely buy the paper version of Touch of Evil at some point (just not before I get Touch of Madness and Touch of Darkness) because I just like having the books available to read at any time, not just when I can sit in front of the computer.  On the flip side, I really like that my kids can’t move my ebook and lose my place. 

    I sent some of these links on to family members and it hit me that book publishers are finally figuring out that books are an addiction – offer the first taste for free, get them hooked, then reel them in with the rest of the series.

  8. 8
    SB Sarah says:

    what the likelihood is that putting free ebooks out there would encourage sales of that book itself

    The Oprah model certainly worked in that case. Oprah offered Suze Orman’s book on women managing their finances as a free PDF, and sales of the paper book landed it on the top 10 that week in the NYT.

    I think the free giveaway gives readers a taste, and if they’re really into the book, like Laurie said above, they’ll buy a paper copy. And if they don’t want a paper copy but they dug the book enough, people will go buy other books by that author, if the Orman experience is any indication.

  9. 9
    Stephanie says:

    John Scalzi had a huge bump—like up to 33%, and he’s selling hundreds of books per week—when Tor offered Old Man’s War for free. So he’s convinced.

    Also, Cory Doctorow doesn’t seem to be hurting financially, and you can get ALL of his books free on the internet.

    So I’m willing to say it works.

  10. 10
    Marta Acosta says:

    I’m totally with Megalith, who said so eloquently and correctly about Julia’s series:  “It kicks all kinds of ass.”  I love this series so much that I want others to get the free copies and I’m happy to buy it in hard cover.

    What’s so good about it?  The characters.  In a time when we’re inundated with tough heroines, Rev. Clare Ferguson is someone who’s got physical skills from her Army days, but a strong moral center and great compassion.  And then she falls for the hunky, shopworn police chief, Russ Van Alstyne—who’s married.  It’s clear that these decent, good people should be together, but can’t be.  Julia totally tortures readers with this relationship.

    Julia also sets up a fascinating small town with secrets, a formidable landscape, and quirkiness.

  11. 11

    As the givee (donable? regifted?) author, I can tell you I was totally chuffed when my publisher told me they were trying this. I believe it works, because I know it’s worked on me. I signed up for the Tor eBook giveaway newsletter as soon as I heard about it, and I’ve already bought three other works (I had to stop myself from typing “real books”) from authors I discovered through reading free ebooks.

    Really, except for the instant-gratification technology, it’s not any different from finding new authors at a used bookshop or at the library free paperback swap. I can’t even begin to name the writers I started with on the cheap and now buy in dead-tree version.

    Nancy, when I was a student, the only books I could afford came free from the library or were $.25 from Goodwill. That’s okay.  As long as you keep the love of and the habit of reading, someday, you’ll be able to afford to buy the books you want, when you want. (Money is nature’s compensation for menopause.) You and your sister students are exactly the readers publishing companies most want to keep engaged.

    word: feel23. Ha. I wish.

  12. 12

    Now, if the publishers would just GET IT and offer in something besides PDF.

    Tor caught on after the first book and started offering LIT and Mobi as well. I don’t read PDF!!. I read on a Palm Zire and the Acrobat Reader for Palm OS totally sucks, not to mention being a major memory hog.

    And I agree: if I get a free sample and like what I read, I will very likely buy more by that same author, which is precisely what we avid ebook people have been saying for years.

    BTW, speaking of John Scalzi, he’s guest of honor at ArmadilloCon in Austin the third weekend in August so if any of y’all are in the neighborhood do drop in. It’s a fun con, and cheap as those things go: http://www.armadillocon.org And n.o, I’m not on the con committee, although I will be there.

    But I digress…

  13. 13

    My one hope is that the new ebook sellers (because, hey, free ebooks often leads to selling them electronically!), such as Amazon through the Kindle, are going to be ethical about the prices they give the publishers for offering books through formats like the Kindle. The link to the article I was mentioning is as follows (if you care to read it):

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/02/books/02bea.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    In the article, the quote that caught my attention is “Those executives note that Amazon currently sells most of its Kindle books to customers for a price well below what it pays publishers, and they anticipate that it will not be long before Amazon begins using the Kindle’s popularity as a lever to demand that publishers cut prices.” I feel like this could really hurt the small presses.

    That said, I agree as someone who does buy many of her books “on the cheap” that this is an exciting new forum. I just hope small publishers don’t get hurt in the process.

  14. 14

    Okay, let’s clarify here before it gets anymore confused.

    Amazon charges $9.99 retail for all Kindle titles, and also discounts that. The major publishers, however, as most ebook readers have been complaining for years. charge almost as much for the ebook, if notas much, as they do for the hardcover.

    So, Amazon is currently paying as much for those same ebooks as they are for the print versions, which means they’re taking a major bite in the butt when they sell them at the $10 price.

    Those are the publishers the article is saying may be hit up for deeper discounts in the future. I don’t know of any small publishers currently offering ebook versions who charge the same price for ebook and print; they know better. Heck, we get nagged for charging the same as for a mass market paperback, even though most vendors discount that on a regular basis and we do it to benefit the authors.

    I really wish people would stop making Amazon into some kind of monster. They’re a business. They exist to make profits—as much as they can manage. For some reason, there seems to be a segment of the industry that’s under the misapprehension Amazon is there to provide them with charity—selling their books even when the discounts they give result, as do the Kindle sales, in Amazon losing money.

    So now, everybody is looking for signs Amazon’s going to “take over the world,” as if the businesses that work with them don’t have sense enough to draw a line beyond which even the most profit-minded will refuse to go—at which point Amazon will back off because…well, we’ve come full circle, haven’t we.

    And yes, I’m well aware this is an unpopular position at the moment, after a ton of misinformation and emotional rhetoric took the place of facts. So before anyone starts in one me—it’s been done, up to and including having my personal ethics challenged.

  15. 15
    Rebecca says:

    A tangential point, but one triggered by getting the free downloads (I’m really looking forward to them!)  Also, in my work life (hah!) I spend a lot of time reading Word and PDF documents.  I can imagine loving a digital reader (that can handle PDFs well – I gather that’s problematic with Sony, which is what I’m looking at, because whatever I do get won’t be tied to any one vendor or format) but a) I’m waiting for a more universal reader and b) I’m reluctant to spend a lot of money on something I may not like using.  I have no friends with an eReader that I can borrow.

    Anyway, my point is, it might be a smart business move for some maker of an electronic reader to let people rent them for something reasonable for a week or two.  That would let me see how I liked it, if I used it, how well it worked reading in bed, waiting at the kids’ school, etc.  (I’m guessing days of reading in the bath are over for Kindles etc – even if you drop a new hardcover in the water by mistake, you’re out considerably less than if you drop your Kindle in it.)

  16. 16
    Kelly says:

    I’m loving all the free book recommendations, SB Sarah – thank you! Like SonomaLass, I really enjoyed Touch of Evil and will probably buy the next book. The Duke and I, I’ll probably start reading Quinn novels – at least another one, to see if they hold up. And I read the first few chapters of the latest Kresley Cole and Oh.My.God. had to run to the bookstore immediately for the book (after being unable to find it right then that night for ebook download – now, of course, it’s everywhere). So I was really stoked, in all my upstate New York thunderstorming glory, to read a book or two set right up the road from me.

    I really, really enjoyed the first novel, enough that I started right into the second (right after sending the information on to several friends), but I’m afraid the second novel slumped for me – Rev. Clare turned into a slightly unbelievable, dumb heroine model of character, which was a disappointing turn for me from who she was in the first novel. There is, I think, a fine line between an adrenaline junkie who leaps before thinking, and someone who does some truly inanely stupid things – as I’ve seen mentioned on reviews here before, it’s like wanting to reach into the book and shake sense into the heroine. Oh well.

    I’ll probably still read the new novel, but it will probably be read at the library, or in the bookstore.

    Still – for the most part, I’ve read 5 free ebooks in the last two weeks, plus two previews. Of the previews, I went and bought one, and am actively planning on buying two or three more once I have some steady income. That’s not a bad return for these publishers, given I would have never picked up any of these books without the free pdfs.

  17. 17
    Laura says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’m always on the lookout for a good mystery series to get into, and after having read the first 4 chapters of In the Bleak Midwinter I think I may soon be dipping into my wallet (e-books may be very convenient, but they’re hell on my eyes – and my printer). An extra bonus for me is that one of the leads is an Episcopalian priest from Virginia, as I’m from Virginia, was raised Episcopalian, and have a clergy fetish (no, really).

  18. 18
    JaniceG says:

    I highly recommend this series – when I first read a brief description of the books I figured they would be fairly predictable but the characters have depth and resist easy stereotyping. It’s worth following their story even if individual mysteries might be slightly uneven from book to book. The ending of the last book whacked me hard and I almost thought the series might end there so I’m very pleased to see that a new book is coming out.

  19. 19
    megalith says:

    Oh, geeze, Marta, I’m lucky I was even that coherent! I just checked, and I’ve had the new book requested for reserve at my library since February 24. So, yeah, you could say I’m a fan of the series. Off to send this link to everyone I’ve recommended these to in the past…

    And OMG I’ve hit the jackpot at the library website: They’ve got Carey’s new Kushiel book, Balogh’s latest, and the new Elizabeth Hoyt book—all on hold for me. I’m in the middle of Kay Kenyon’s second installment in the Entire and the Rose series—which is a great read, BTW—but I can’t wait to dive in to these. God, I love my library.

    God, I’m such a book nerd.

  20. 20
    behind the smoke and curtains says:

    I just commented about this at Karen Knows Best’s Aztec Lady’s question for readers and book publicity! I wrote that I wanted to be able to read the first in a series for free to see how I liked it, and then I see this post, woo neato! If I love the series like many commenters here do, then I found me a new author to $upport hee hee ;-)

  21. 21
    behind the smoke and curtains says:

    Well DARN!! I got the email with the link, which goes to Amazon, which will NOT let me download the book because I don’t have a Kindle Reader? I thought it was a PDF file offer, not a PDF-only-if-you-own-a-Kindle-first offer; maybe I’m missing something?

  22. 22

    Thanks to Ms. Burton for clarifying! That’s exactly the information I needed to put my mind at ease.

  23. 23
    Kelly says:

    Behind the smoke and curtains:
    I believe, in the email, the pdf download itself is the link embedded in the covers. I was able to get the pdfs just fine. :-)

  24. 24
    Behind the smoke and curtains says:

    @Kelly – Thanks, I looked again, and I was clicking on the link under the books, instead of on the yellow circles. I have them now, yay.

  25. 25
    ev says:

    Hubby has a Sony e-reader and he loves it. I haven’t had a chance to play with it much yet since he doesn’t let it out of his hands. He travels a lot for work and it is much easier to pack than a bunch of books. Also, it is much easier for him to hold on to than a big hard cover. He has carpal tunnel too.
    Reading pdf’s on it is not easy though. I wish they would come up with a more universally compatible version.

  26. 26
    Alison says:

    Well – all I can say is this marketing project worked on me.  I read the first two online, and then quickly devoured the remaining titles, including the latest in hardback.  All I can say is that I want more, MORE, MORE!!!  So delighted to have found another new auther – thanks Bitches!

  27. 27
    Liz C says:

    This comment is really late but I’m without internet so I finally read the 2 books I downloaded and promptly hit the library for books 3 and 5 (they didn’t have 4 or 6). I’m trying not to spend money on books for a few weeks so it’s taking all I have not to hit Borders for 4 and 6. So, yeah, the free book thing has totally worked on me and has introduced me to a series I probably never would’ve tried before.

  28. 28

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  29. 29

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