Teleread reports on Baen’s selling EARCs for $15. An EARC is an e-ARC.

The innovative part of this story is not the idea of creating a digital proof — lots of (maybe all) publishers offer this sort of proof nowadays. There is still a significant reluctance on the part of review media to accept this format: lots of reviewers just want to read a paper book, so publishers have to create both digital and paper ARCs . The innovation is the offering such a prepublication proof for sale to the general public.

Not sure whether I think this is a great idea: no doubt Baen are in a better position than I am to analyze the results of the policy. It just seems to me that selling an uncorrected proof for $15 is going to cannibalize your final sale. I think it’s great to offer your books at different price/format points, but why not do that later, after the book’s in its final form? Does anyone who buys the EARC come back and buy the final book? Well, of course you could respond, does anyone who buys the hardback come back later on and buy the paperback — and of course the answer’s no. Maybe $15 is more than/the same as their regular ebook edition’s price, in which case they are just letting fans buy sooner (and raising earlier revenue). But does your author really want his/her readers to be getting a provisional version of the book?