As you may know, my publisher agreed to release the first Hal Spacejock novel as a free ebook in open, non-protected txt/rtf/html formats. Anyone can download it, read it, share it.
If you listen to some authors (and most publishers), this is akin to handing out blank cheques - a sure-fire way to destroy the book-selling business.
Personally, I'm convinced that ebooks are nothing more than preview trailers for the main feature. Sure, some people will read an ebook all the way through, but they're in the minority. And if they do read your novel from start to finish on a cramped little screen I guess that means they're enjoying the thing, which suggests they might recommend the work to others ... some of whom will prefer paper over pixels.
I don't have any sales figures to back up my 'ebooks damage you not' claim, since the first book recently sold out of its second printing (a third is planned) AND the ebook coincided with the launch of Hal 4. There was a spike in Hal 1 sales, but that hit a wall when the stock ran out.
However, I do have one very interesting fact to share. I recently drew three more winners in my monthly Hal Spacejock competition, and in the email which went out to everyone I explained that they could still download the first book for nothing. So which book did all three winners select, given a choice of Hal 1-4?
A copy of Hal Spacejock book one - the same title they can download for free.
Three people is hardly a big sample, but I was surprised even one winner chose the first Hal book. Why pick that one when the full ebook version is just a click away? Why not pick the second so they get two Hal novels for the price of one?
It does show that an ebook was of very little interest to the lucky winners, and that maybe ebooks aren't paperback-destroyers they're made out to be.
Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)