I love books; I really love free books, so it’s no surprise that I love all these book giveaways going on.
I think I started advocating for book giveaways as a way to reinvigorate the Wotmania OF message board in early 2004 – at this time there were only the occasional sweepstakes programs here and there. Now, if you know what you are doing, you can find seemingly countless book giveaways that really don’t have any strings attached – all you need to do is supply an email or private message, sometimes with a name and address, that actually isn’t used for anything other than getting you a book in the case that you win. There really is no reason not to sign up.
Excepting bookstore and publisher sweepstakes, I think I first noticed on-line giveaways sometime in 2003. At that time, it was limited and author sponsored – I think the giveaway was a R. Scott Bakker book at Wotmania OF, and not really a true giveaway, but more of a contest. Starting a few years later, Pat over at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist really got book giveaways going – he has them all the time. Other places like FantasyBookSpot had occasional giveaways, but nothing like Pat. Now it seems that everywhere I look there are more – SFF World, Wotmania OF, SFX, Fantasy Book Critic, Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review, My Elves are Different, SF Signal, The Fantasy Review, etc… And you can find many other sources for free books such as the reader review programs at many of the major publishing houses, bookstore giveaways at places like Waterstone's, publisher direct contests at their own blogs (such as Orbit), other blog contests (like what Carl sponsors at Stainless Steel Droppings), and even the occasional giveaway from the authors themselves (such as this one from Tobias Buckell).
Clearly the combination of every fanboy/girl out there getting into blogging and the realization by publishers of the power of on-line marketing through the fanboy/girl is making these giveaways even more popular. And why not – it makes good marketing sense (to me anyway). Even this survey indicates as much. Now the specific category of contests is really low, but if the winner of the contest starts recommending it to friends, or writes a review on a blog, or talks it up on a message board or a book club, the chain reaction starts and the cost of that single book has more than paid for itself in more than one way.
And who doesn’t love free books – I am a bona fide bibliophile and I sure do love these contests. I almost compulsively enter just about every one that I see, even though in many cases I could request said book from the publisher or I may even already have a copy. I don’t care, I get selfish, gimmeee books, gimmmeee more books. And if I don’t win, I often do buy that book.
So, my little blog is pretty successful – I’ve had over 20,000 visitors (not counting RSS views) and at a rate of several thousand per month, that’s growing fast. But I haven’t done any giveaways – should I? Perhaps I should declare my blog giveaway free just to be different. Well, that sounds good to me – Neth Space is and will remain giveaway free*.
*this is mostly due to laziness rather than any actual principled stand or desire to be different. In fact if offered giveaways, Neth Space would happily reverse this stand almost instantly – after all, I do love giveaways.