Frequently, I see e-books for free for a limited time or longer on Amazon. Some of these books are downloaded enough times to earn a ranking in the top 100 e-books in the Free in Kindle Store category.
Some authors will give away e-books for free in hopes that readers will be interested and perhaps buy one of their other books for money. Or maybe they are just feeling generous or their sales are lagging and they want to promote their work. Or the free e-book may be a new release, which the author hopes will become hot if he offers free downloads. There may be other reasons as well.
Free e-books are great publicity and combined with good reviews can make a book successful. However, if one's book is worthy of a price tag, why undervalue one's work?
For example, if one offers a $3.99 e-book for free, is one not actually giving away $3.99 to each of those people who downloaded the book? If one's book reaches a thousand downloads, has one in fact given away approximately 70% of $3990 in royalties which is $2793? Is that good marketing?
It could be argued that one wouldn't sell a thousand e-books if one kept to the higher price, but then one would have to consider the quality of the work and other reasons the book may not have sold.
One can't go into Chapters or another bookstore and get a book for free. One can borrow books or e-books through the library system, but I'm pretty sure the library paid something to carry that book.
Maybe it's not such a hot idea to offer one's prized work for free.