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Open Books – read first, then pay if you like it


Being an author nowadays is definitely a mixed bag. On the one hand they’ve got a huge global digital audience to aim for, not just a handful of arrogant publishers, but on the other this means the competition for attention is fiercer than a tornado in a tiger’s cage. Or something. More power then to those who try and make it easier for authors to grab an audience.

Open Books is a bold new initiative to help readers find writers and vice versa. The idea is to offer the public a selection of eBooks for instant free download, and if you like what you read, then you can pay what you think it’s worth. The site is brand new and hosts just under 300 books, but there’s a nice selection on there and the writing seems to be pretty good in general.


Authors get 70% of any sales proceeds from their book, and get to retain complete copyright on their title, which is good news. One of the coolest bits is the inclusion of a sales payment link in each book at regular intervals. This encourages the reader to cough up if they like what they’re reading, which is solid promotional gold. The service also encourages readers to share the book with their friends, thereby helping it get to more eyeballs, and there are editor reviews on the site to give a bit more marketing bounce.


The site itself – or bookshop if you will – is nicely designed, with a clearly laid out cataloging system, and lots of space and stats which show off the titles to their best. It’s an important part of an online book store that it encourages potential readers to browse and sample, and this site does that in spades. You even get an estimated reading time attached to each title, which is rather cool. Reader comments, star ratings and ‘You Might Also Like‘ features round out the marketing options for the books, which adds value for writers and readers alike. Very nice service indeed, we wish them well!

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.

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