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Free ‘key driver’ in e-book sales
Sampling free content is inspiring customers to buy e-books, with a fifth of UK readers citing it as the primary reason for purchase, according to new research.

Surveys by Book Marketing Limited (BML) and Bowker Publishing Services presented at the 2011 Books and Consumers Conference in London on Wednesday [23rd March] also showed the trend was prevalent in the US market, where more than a third surveyed said free content inspired them to buy e-books.

Of those surveyed in the UK, 15% said simply downloading a “taster” chapter or extract before buying a book was one of their top reasons for downloading, and another 23% said the cheaper cost of e-books was important to them. The same percentage downloaded content because it took up less space at home.

The most common reason given for using e-books was that readers found them easier to carry around and take on holiday, according to 25% of respondents in the UK. By contrast, 20% said e-books were friendlier for the environment and 18% opted to buy them because wide ranges were available.

Because free content is driving growth in the e-book market, Kelly Gallagher, vice-president of Bowker Publisher Services, said it was vital for booksellers and publishers to flag up information on other books alongside free online material. He said: “Consumers want something they can try before they buy. Any information you can put out there to see as they look for free content is important. Discoverability is essential.”

The Bookseller