I ran a bit of an experiment in late October last year. I offered people a chance to get a physical copy of my book – Retired at 27, If I can do it anyone can for nothing (virtually – there was a postage and handling cost of $5 in Australia, $10.00 world wide). The only catch was that they were to read the book within a month and then pay “whatever they thought it was worth”.
I was inspired by a very cool online t-shirt company http://hipstery.com/ who ran a similar promo last year. I bought one of their t-shirts (a mystery one) and then paid what I thought it was worth.
Results of my own experiment were mixed.
About half the people who bought the book paid “what they thought it was worth”. I was pretty delighted to see that the average sale was actually $24.67 (the retail price for the book is $24.95). We had numerous people pay $40, one even paid $50 (which was quiet surprising given that his book got “lost” in the mail and he paid this before he even received it) a bunch pay retail and the lowest price paid was $10.
However, not overly surprisingly over half the people who said they’d pay what they thought it was worth paid nothing. Most disappointingly I had a couple of people request via email numerous copies at this price and also pay nothing – those ones stung, I’ll admit that.
Keeping in mind that I wanted to write a blog post about the experience I emailed everyone who paid nothing and asked them one simple question – why did they make that choice? Was it that they thought the book was worth nothing (no-one said this was the case), was it that they had forgotten (a couple said yes and promptly paid) or was it another reason?
To me this was the most interesting part. I only got replies from perhaps 10% of the people who didn’t pay. Some confessed to laziness, others stated they weren’t paying until they read the book, others had said that life had gotten on top of them.
One very earnest lady contacted me 8 months after the special to say that she’d finally read the book and it was actually a really cool email to read. She gave me some feedback on the cover image, which I totally agree with and she wrote this:
“Retired at 27 is easily the best business book I've read to date, made especially so because it is written by someone with credibility, which you establish right up-front, and also because it gives practical advice than anyone can follow and addresses a number of issues that other books skim over or completely miss… I think your book is worth $40. I haven't paid more than $35 for a business book (in fact many, like the E-Myth Revisited, 7 Habits, How to Win Friends etc I have bought second-hand) so I figure if yours is the best, it should be worth the most.”
What have I learned from the lesson? Well, it’s been an interesting mix of both restoring my faith in humans (in an era where it’s so very easy to get so much for nothing) and it’s also taken away from that a bit. All said, the positive has outweighed the negative. Those who read the book and enjoyed it and sent me emails like the above have no idea how much that brightens my day. For those of you who didn’t contact me (or pay!) I do hope you got something from the read, or passed it on to someone who did.