43 Hours is an ongoing experiment in publishing that honors both readers and writers. Among the ideas we’re exploring is giving readers opportunities to read our books for free, online. We believe this is good for everyone involved.
There’s a lot of anecdotal data suggesting that books made available for free sell more copies than those whose publishers closely guard access. We think this is because such books become the growing medium for communities of readers and story-lovers, who share great reads in every way they can–and because people are generally disposed to reciprocate the gift of a story that touches them with the gift of support in whatever way works for them. Whether that means buying a copy of a book they loved for themselves or as a gift, putting money in an online “tip jar” or a Patreon or Kickstarter fund, or helping spread the word about the book, that return gift not only supports the author and helps the publisher keep the lights on, but it also creates the kind of connection between author and audience that both readers and writers crave.
Books, especially big, thick books, are getting increasingly expensive. We think it’s vitally important that readers don’t get shut out of reading because there isn’t room in their budgets to pay full cover price—particularly since there are so many ways of supporting authors that don’t require big outlays of cash. Likewise, we believe that giving emerging authors opportunities to build readerships is an important aspect of developing their careers, and letting people taste before they buy will only benefit everyone.
When you read one of our books on our website, it helps to support the author by raising her profile with search engines; ads on the read-for-free pages help to defray publishing costs, which in turn means the author gets paid more and faster. Naturally we hope that, if you love the book, you’ll buy it in print—which also supports the author, and has the added benefit of giving you (or the recipient of your gift) a better reading experience. Our print books are beautifully designed, and they contain story extramatter that’s not available in the read-for-free versions. But if your budget won’t allow that, you can also support the author in other ways: by buying some of the cool merch related to the book, or dropping a little something in her tip jar; by spreading the word to others who might love the book too (we’ll be building handy links for sharing on the book pages and read-online areas); by asking your library to buy the book, which will allow even more people to find out about it.
If you enjoy what you read on our site, we hope you’ll join our community by signing up for the newsletter, “Liking” us on Facebook, or following us in other social media places. We hope you enjoy hanging out with us as we create and share great stories with like-minded people. Most of all, we hope you’re as inspired by the books we publish as we are.
We’re still building the Free Reads section of the site. If you’d like to be notified when new content goes live, you can join our newsletter.