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Pricing for e-books is a black art. Too high and you scare away purchasers; too low and you are competing with all the 99 cent sale books, and the risk of being perceived as low quality. The solution might be to take a page from gaming applications: Give away the book, and make money by selling upgrades and additional features for the story. This is a great opportunity for making e-books more popular, due to the interactive nature of optional story elements. It could also make them very profitable.

Want a subplot? You can skip it, or choose to purchase it. The free story states our heroine dressed up for her first date, so he would not think she always wore jeans and a sweatshirt, but click here (with your credit card handy) for a detailed description of her new outfit. Want a longer or more detailed sex scene? You can purchase it, or get it at no charge if you invite five friends to read the book. When he impresses her by making ginger cookies, you can get the recipe, for a small fee. The romantic poem he writes to make up – and propose? It brought tears to her eyes, and it could to yours too, if you authorize the purchase. Finally, the epilogue is free if you’ve collected enough points from reading this author’s books, but if not, you can buy the points you need.

We already have product placement and sponsors for books. Free e-books with in-book purchases is another brave new solution for modern novels.

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