As a reader, I’ve been experimenting with bargain book platforms for a couple of reasons. First, I want to see which platform appears to be most reader friendly since I may want to use one of them when I complete my work-in-progress. Second, I want to gather information about the value authors ascribe to them.
Whenever I see a book on any of these platforms written by an author I know personally, I buy the book and provide an honest and positive review. There’s always something good to be said. Then I ask the author about the experience.
Because I receive several daily emails from these platforms, I’ve seen many books offered on more than one of them on the same day and often offered again a few weeks later. That evidence suggests that authors, or their publishers, see them as good means of promoting their books. If you’ve had experience with any of them, I welcome your observations, either publicly as a comment on this post or privately by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I’ve limited this post to those I have explored, listed below in alphabetical order.
AuthorsXP has a number of programs for authors including daily emails to readers offering special pricing on books and a program to expand your audience and grow your email list. For a full range of the options AXP offers, you must create an account for yourself to see the list.
I first learned about AXP from one of San Diego Writers and Editors Guild members, Penn Wallace, who uses their program to expand his readership and grow his email list. Here’s what he has to say about that program.
I’ve worked with Authors XP (which stands for cross promotion) several times. I use them mostly for building my mailing list. I have had disappointing results when I used them to try and sell books.
Amy [of AXP] runs a weekly promotion. It is usually for one genre (thrillers, romance, female heroes, etc.). She signs up twenty to forty authors to participate. The promotion promises each reader the chance to win ALL of the authors’ promoted books. In some cases that’s forty books. All the reader has to do is sign up for the mailing list of all the authors.
There are two grand prize winners who get all the books. Each other winner gets one book. The author must donate 3 books. They must also promote the promotion on their website or newsletter.
They have been extremely helpful to me in getting people on my mailing list. All of the people have opted in, so I have no problem with adding them to my list. I send out a letter welcoming them to the club about two to three days after the promotion. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten fewer that a thousand new names and in some cases have gotten around five thousand names.
This is a great, inexpensive way to grow your list. (It cost about fifty bucks.)
Another of AXP’s programs offers authors with a book series the opportunity to introduce readers to the complete set at a low price for each. Penn used that program recently to offer his full Catrina Flaherty series as part of his launch of the latest in that series, The Panama Murders. Since I’d already read the first three, I was happy to pick up the latest since I already knew what to look for from his protagonist, Catrina.
I like the large, centrally positioned image of the book cover. There is enough information for me to decide if I’m interested. And the prices are always good.
Corey Lynn Fayman, an author and SDWEG member whose book I purchased as a result of seeing it on a Bargain Booksy offering, had this to say about the platform.
I was actually smart enough to track my promotions this year. Bargain Booksy was one of the better ones. As near as I could tell, I got 70-100 sales from it, which just about made my money back, which I count as a victory.
The price for listing a title on Bargain Booksy depends on the genre, with popular subgenres costing more than less popular ones.
BookBub was my introduction to getting low-cost deals for ebooks.
BookBub states its purpose is to help millions of readers discover books they’ll love while providing publishers and authors with a way to drive sales and find new fans.
When I first received BookBub’s emails, I stocked up my Kindle with free books. Very soon, however, I became more selective as I realized I didn’t have time to read them all. If I paid for one, even if the amount was small, I was more likely to include that ebook in my real to-read pile. I started keeping track of those I purchased by putting them on my Goodreads shelf labeled purchased.
Early Bird Books is my favorite because it offers the largest number of books in each message, often classics and best sellers from past decades. Recently works by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Studs Terkel, Eudora Welty, Graham Greene, Michael Crichton, Paul Theroux, Ngaio Marsh, Nathanial Hawthorne, and Mark Twain all appeared in an offering on the same day.
After doing research into how to get a book included in one of Early Bird Books email lists, I understood why it includes so many books, especially the classics: It is primarily a source of titles from publishers that include ads for Early Bird Books within the books. It’s possible to submit a book to be included, but the cost is steeper than for others. I’ll be looking for books by authors I know there to see if I can get feedback on the value.
The format for messages from this platform includes the book cover images at the top center for each entry. This makes judging the books by the cover easy, though I like to think of myself as being more discerning and attracted as much to the descriptions as to the covers.
Free Booksy is connected to Bargain Booksy. The difference is in the name. A book must be free to be listed on Free Booksy. But while the book is free to the reader, the cost for using Free Booksy is higher than for Bargain Booksy because the number of potential readers on their lists is greater.
This platform appeals more to those who feel lucky enough to win a weekly windfall of lots of books. And they are hardcover or paperback, not ebooks. It’s also great for checking out book cover designs that appeal to you and that fit a specific genre. If I ever win one of their weekly contests, I’ll stock up my Little Free Library (after reading those that touch my reader’s heart).
Of those listed, this platform offers the fewest number of books in each message. The image of the cover to the left often is too small to see details, though more information about featured books is included to the right than on other platforms. I’m rarely interested in knowing the number of pages the book is, and if I decide to look further, I’ll see whether it is still on sale and whether an audiobook version is available. For me, the information in the right column is wasted space.
Listing a book with The Fussy Librarian appears to be less expensive than other platforms. However, since they include fewer books in each promotion, it may be difficult to pick the date you want.
When I asked another SDWEG member, Cary Lowe, about his decision to take part in one of its campaigns, he told me the following:
I wasn’t aware my book was offered on there. Must be something my publisher did. In any case, based on sales figures, the listing didn’t appear to generate significant interest. Nonetheless, I would continue using promotions like this, as they offer access to new audiences and generally do not displace regular sales.
Since one of my reasons for checking out these platforms is to determine whether I might use them when I complete my work-in-progress, my observations about the platforms are framed to address that.
If I had to choose just one of these platforms, I lean at this point toward Early Bird Books because it provides the widest range of options to readers. But since the cost of listing with them is higher than the others, I’ll have to consider the potential for return on my investment.
If I had a book series to offer, I would not use The Fussy Librarian since the image to the left of each entry is too small to read. The impact of the book covers is lost in this format.
Have you used any of these platforms?
If so, please leave a comment if you’re willing to share it with others, or send me a message if you prefer to keep your thoughts private.