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The paradox of the paid PDF ebook

May 10, 2011
by seth godin

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No one wants to pay for a PDF if they don’t know who wrote it and what’s in it. Without the filter and imprimatur of a publishing house, we assume the worst.

Once someone knows what’s in it, they probably don’t want to pay for it (why should they, they already know what it says).

If you have a huge audience already (as Jason & Co. did when they launched their PDF at 37Signals) then you will inevitably do just fine, as you only need a small fraction of your fans to step up and support you.

If you are marketing a get rich quick (or slow) product, you can possibly make enough promises to entice the reader, but this is a tiny slice of all the books in the world.

For the rest of the world, though, if you’re trying to break into the market, the paid PDF is hard to share, hard to talk about and hard to monetize.

The secret is to write something brilliant, share it far and wide and free, and then wait until you have enough fans to monetize the next one you do.

More here in a post I wrote years ago.

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