Brian Armstrong

Releasing Breaking Free, the eBook, for Free

Breaking Free, the book, came out a few years ago when this blog started.  Since then it has done reasonably well (for a first time author) both in print and online.  But something happened a while after it came out: I started to wish I’d given the electronic version away for free and only charged for the print copies.

After all, there were a number of online free eBooks that had come out that I’d really enjoyed and had been successful, like Getting Real, the Recession Proof Grad, and a number of Seth Godin’s works.

Breaking Free Brian ArmstrongTo many people it might seem counter-intuitive to release a book for free, but things are changing in the digital age.  Much electronic content can be shared online at zero cost, and the distribution cost of an eBook has come down to zero.  So some authors find it useful as a means to build their brand, spread an idea, etc - things which can be much more valuable than book sales.  And in many cases (Getting Real being one example) it turned out they sold MORE paper copies as a result of releasing the eBook for free.  People liked what they read online and wanted a “dead tree” version to read the rest more easily, mark up with notes, share with a friend as a gift, or just say thank you.

Of course, the biggest problem this presented in my case is that I’d already been selling the eBook version for some time, and people would be upset if I decided to release it now for free.  So I pondered this for a while and came up with a solution that isn’t perfect but I hope will be a valid compromise: if you purchased an electronic copy in the past and would like a refund now that it’s free, simply contact me and I’ll send it right over with my sincere apologies.  It’s been out for two years now and sales have started to slow, so I figured if I was going to do it the time was now.  I also decided it should be done in a totally open and transparent way with a blog post.  To be honest, my hope is that most people who bought it found it worth purchasing a year or two ahead of other people (the emails I get tend to indicate that is the case) but if not I am more than happy to eat the cost for my mistake in not making it free from the beginning.  This was a really hard decision to make actually, and I wish I’d gotten it right from the beginning so this wasn’t necessary.  But I didn’t, so hopefully this will make the best of an unfortunate situation.

On the plus side, this will hopefully make the ideas in the book available to a much wider audience and build readership to the blog over time.  I’ve updated the book’s page on this blog.  And if you haven’t already, please feel free to check it out.

And if you’re upset by this as someone who purchased it in the past, I totally understand.  Feel free to contact me for a refund and I’ll make it right.

Until next time, keep breaking free! Brian Armstrong