Drive Down the Price of an E-Book by Joining the Crowd

Amazon has made a deal that could get you in on a low price on their ebookIf you get on the social experiment that author Seth Godin is creating by Friday, Feb. 18, you could be helping set in motion a new way to buy e-books that will make them as cheap as $1. Or you could just be pre-ordering Godin's newest book and still make him rich.

Either way, it's an interesting look into how people are manipulated into buying something if they can get a lower price as a group, and should make the Freakonomics bloggers happy.As Godin explains on his website, Amazon has agreed that for every 5,000 new people who sign up to get his free online newsletter, it will cut the pre-order price of the Kindle edition of Poke the Box by $1. The original pre-order price was $9.99, and since the newsletter already has about 10,000 subscribers, the price has dropped to $7.99.

The e-book price could drop to as low as $1, depending on how many people join the experiment by the end of the day on Friday. To get the price that low, he'll need 35,000 more subscribers.

The final pre-order price will be announced Feb. 21, although subscribers won't be obligated to pre-order the book. But if they want it at that price, they'll have to order it by March 1. Everyone who pre-orders will get the same price, and the price will go up on the publication date.

Godin promises never to sell or rent any subscriber information, which can be as little as an email address.

It's an interesting concept. It's like a group discount for buying a book as a group before it comes out. It's one of the ways to buy a Kindle book inexpensively, and is a method that authors commonly use to drum up awareness of their book.

The method is similar to what Groupon uses -- a deal that expires and doesn't come to fruition if enough people don't buy it in time -- but I'll bet that the Groupon deals are almost always successful.

I don't know yet if I'll buy Godin's book about how to take the initiative at work and in life, but if the pre-order price drops to as low as a dollar, it makes it a lot easier to give it a try.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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