Thomas Nelson Tests Multi-Format Book Sales

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Thomas Nelson Publishers has launched NelsonFree, a program that gives readers a book, audiobook and e-book—all for a single price.When you purchase the physical book, you get free access to the digital media. There are instructions in the book about how to download the specially coded digital files.

Michael Hyatt, Thomas Nelson CEO said, “The NelsonFree program allows readers to experience their content in multiple formats—the physical book, the audio book, and the e-book—without making multiple purchases. Traditionally, if readers want something beyond the printed word, they have to buy another copy of the same book. With NelsonFree, the everyday price of the hardcover book includes both the audio and the e-book.”

The first two titles being offered in the pilot program are from Nelson’s Business and Culture Division, Collapse of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails by Scott McKain and I’ll Make You An Offer You Can’t Refuse: Insider Business Tips from a Former Mob Boss by Michael Franzese.

A special arrangement was made with these authors in order to enable Nelson to test the new marketing plan. Hyatt said, “We pay the authors their royalties on the hardcover edition of the book. Neither we nor the bookseller make anything on the other formats, so neither does the author. The author doesn’t participate in the program unless they want to. It’s an investment on everyone’s part, hoping that the added value will drive additional book sales where everyone gets paid.”

Another 10 titles are expected to be available by the end of 2009. Books in the program will carry a special NelsonFree logo.

The audio will be available in MP3 and the e-books will be available in EPub, Pocket and PDF. The book by Franzese is slated to be available in the Kindle e-book format, but purchasing the Kindle version excludes readers from the NelsonFree plan.

Book retailer Joel Bramwell said, “I think this is an ingenious move. I like to provide options for every guest who comes into one of my stores. Paper will not go away as quickly as some may think. Buying a book with multiple options carries a huge perceived value that will continue to sell the print version, and that will create long term customer loyalty.”

Nelson will monitor consumer response to determine whether or not it will add more titles from different divisions of the company.

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