A New Way to Give Away Books

Rachel Kent

Blogger: Rachel Kent

I’m a member of NoiseTrade because one of my favorite bands, Jars of Clay, gave away an exclusive album on this site a few years ago. I now get the occasional email blast with updates and featured artists.

Yesterday, I received an update about their new branch, NoiseTrade Books. They are now giving away free ebooks and audiobooks. The author or publisher can load books to the site and when users download the book, the users agree to give the publishing house or author some contact information and they are also invited to leave a tip. NoiseTrade boasts that they allow the author or publishing house to receive 80% (minus credit card fees) of every tip that comes in. I’m not sure how much the publishing house passes along to the author, but this is something I’d recommend you or your agent check on with your publishing house if  you are interested in trying NoiseTrade Books.

I noticed some books by CBA authors up on NoiseTrade so your publisher might already be a part of this new venture.

I am intrigued by this new way of distributing free books, because the author and/or publishing house are given the opportunity to gain more from giving away ebooks than just exposure and a possible boost in sales. The reader contact information can make a big difference for future releases. When an author’s next book comes out he or she could send a newsletter to all of these NoiseTrade contacts and it might result in some sales. It’s also more beneficial because there’s the potential to make a little money from the tips. Tips must come in for the authors and artists because NoiseTrade runs their business off of the 20% they take from the tips.

If your book is still under contract with a publishing house, the publisher has to be the one to upload the book and receive the readers’ contact information and payments from the tips–so if you are asked about participating in NoiseTrade giveaways by your publisher (or if you notice your book up there at some point) be sure to ask if you can also receive the reader contact information and see how the tip payments will be handled. If you are agented, check with your agent before going to the publishing house.

It might be against NoiseTrade’s policy for the author and publishing house to both receive the contact information, but it’s something to check into. I did notice there’s a FAQ section at the bottom of the NoiseTrade Books page. If you have other questions about this company, you might want to take a look.

What are your thoughts about this new model for giving away ebooks and audiobooks?

Would you be interested in having your book listed on NoiseTrade Books? Why or why not?

16 Responses

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  1. Cathy West says:

    My son who is in the music industry just told me about this yesterday! I think it’s a great idea – any exposure is good, right? I know there are two minds as to whether ‘free’ works – but if I was able to do this I would. I’ve found some of my favorite authors by downloading a free book, liked it so much I went back and purchased other books they’d written. So I’ll be interested to see how this works out for authors.

    • Rachel Kent says:

      I think a lot of people really do buy other books by an author when they enjoy one free book. From what I’ve heard from publishing houses giving away books for free does boost sales.

  2. Jill Kemerer says:

    Learned something new today! I’d never heard of NoiseTrade, but yes, I’d definitely be interested in having my books there. Writers and readers need ways to find each other in the deluge of books!

  3. It’s an interesting concept, and does bring potential publicity, but I have one concern –

    Getting something for nothing puts an implicit value on the object, or on the degree to which the creator of the object values “intellectual rights”.

    I think a lot of people will feel free to share the book, since they got it for nothing in the first place, and that makes if okay, right?

    Not a huge problem – unless the book does a Jonathan Livingston Seagull and goes viral. Suddenly everyone has a free copy – and no one is buying.

    I’m all for free distribution of ebooks to churches, say, and other organizations that may find them useful in ministry.

    But until software allows a book to be ‘locked’ against redistribution, I’d be leery of mass availability.

    • Christine Dorman says:

      I agree with your concerns, Andrew. The thing that concerns me the most is the points you mentioned about the “implicit value” placed on an item that is giving away for free, and the intellectual property point.

    • Rachel Kent says:

      Yes, this is the long standing argument with “free.” I have seen some compelling statistics on the benefits of giving books for free from publishers.

      The constant distribution of free product could have a long-term negative effect on publishing though. Something that builds up slowly to create a big problem–like pollution.

  4. Christine Dorman says:

    Rachel, I’m glad that you wrote about Noise Trade Books. It is an interesting concept and definitely something for authors both to be aware of and to weigh the benefits of.

    I went to the website and read through the company’s privacy policy and its FAQ. I came away with mixed feelings. There certainly are benefits in regards to connecting with readers, collecting data on potential future readers, and being able to doing a targeted marketing plan. The FAQ section mentions the importance of collecting zip codes from readers who have downloaded an author’s book. The company suggests that this is a way to invite those specific readers to a marketing event (such as a book signing)that will take place near those readers. That definitely is a smart marketing plan. Another benefit is that the site is a way to get a new book (especially from a debut author) out to online readers. There is the obvious plus side to giving away free samples: it gets the customer to try something new that they probably wouldn’t have tried if they had had to pay for it. I have listened to music on YouTube (and on radio back in the dark ages) that I loved so much that I went out and bought it. Also, I have read library books that I then went out and bought because I wanted my own copy. So free access isn’t necessarily bad.

    However, as I mentioned in my reply to Andrew, I have misgivings about the concept. Unlike library books, which need to be returned, the books downloaded from Noise Trade immediately become the reader’s property–and the readers are encouraged to put them on any e-reader device they own. While the site encourages readers not to share the downloads with their friends, but instead to promote the books, what difference does it make whether the friends get a copy from the reader who originally downloaded the books or they go to Noise Trade to download the books for free? Of course, the benefits of the friends downloading from Noise Trade are: a) collection of data, b) possible tips and, c) money for Noise Trade. But there is nothing to make them go back to the website to get the download. So while the author’s work has gotten more exposure as it is spread from friend to friend, the data collection is lost as are any potential “tips.” Also, Noise Trade contradicts itself by telling the readers not to share downloads with friends while telling authors that they should “reward” readers for sharing copies.

    My chief concerns with this lie not so much with lost data collection or lost tips, but with the conditioning of readers into a mindset of expecting to get books for free and only leaving a tip, if they are so inclined, the same way people throw coins into a street violinist’s hat. The other concern is the continued rubbing out of the concept of intellectual property and copyright infringement. While I write because I love it and I need to do it, and I don’t expect to be the next J.K. Rowling and make a ton of money from my books, I do want to maintain at least a modicum of control over my intellectual property.

    I think giving free downloads of a portion of a book with the option to later buy the entire manuscript is a better way to introduce readers to an author’s work. The data collection and the connection with readers could still be made in that model. Currently, I am receiving a free weekly email with lessons in pronouncing Irish. In order to receive the email, I had to give my personal information just as the Noise Trade readers do. Each lesson is an appetizer. If I want a more in-depth understanding of the Irish language, I can choose to buy a course. There are three package options. The higher the level, the more tools come with the course (e.g. basic level = just text, advanced level includes audio). Because I am enjoying the information in the free lessons, I am considering ordering a full course. That’s what I mean in regards to marketing books by offering a free partial manuscript. Wet the appetite rather than satiate with a full banquet.

    Have a good weekend.

    • Rachel Kent says:

      It’s very hard to measure the benefits and costs of giving away product for free. It’s one of those things that has supporting statistics both ways.

      I do think it is a dangerous move for so much content to be offered for free all the time. It could damage the publishing industry.

  5. I get NoiseTrade emails ever since I downloaded a NEEDTOBREATHE freebie. BTW, love Jars as well. I’ll have to look into that! My target audience includes music lovers. I bet their email list would fit just right!

  6. Sounds like good arguments for and against this approach. But it’s an intriguing option–thanks for letting us know about it!

  7. Hum along if you know the song:

    In open fields of wild flowers,
    she breathes the air and flies away
    She thanks her Jesus for the daises and the roses
    in no simple language
    Someday she’ll understand the meaning of it all
    He’s more than the laughter or the stars in the heavens

  8. My sister-in-law and I both got Nooks precisely because we could share a book once with each other. So many times one or the other of us has been just about to buy a book and then stopped because it was not a “lend me” book. Free books and sharing books are important. I have gained and shared favorite authors because of lending e-books.

    I used to read exclusively through the local library. Too expensive otherwise. I got maybe 1 or 2 books a year for gifts that were actually purchased. But when I got my Nook I became a book buyer and I buy quite a few books a year now, where it was 0 before, except books purchased for me as gifts. Many of the free books from the library, became books that I later purchased for my Nook after enjoying that author for free. Making books accessible will help you in the long run.

  9. Wow, this site could truly be the bomb for Christian indie authors trying to get the word out on books! Definitely looking into it…I’m just hoping they have a time period you set for freebies, just like Amazon. I don’t want my book being free forever, because though I write to bring new stories/characters to people, I also write to make a little income for our family. But if I could use it like Kindle Select, setting a freebie period, that would be amazing. I’m hoping the freebie readers also take the time to review books on Amazon/Goodreads, and help authors out that way.

    • Joel says:

      Hey Heather, my name is Joel and I work with our publishers and authors relations for NoiseTrade Books.

      Just to let you know, you can definitely limit the amount of time you want to give a book away for. It’s entirely up to you. You can setup your own account, and upload content (and take it down) as you please on-demand! So you can use the platform for many different options, whether it be for companion guides, parts of books, entire books, audio lessons, etc etc etc.