Author Solutions has just introduced a new marketing service called BookStub, which it describes thusly:
Loyalty card-sized BookStubs display your cover on the front side and ordering instructions on the back side. Once you distribute a BookStub, the reader can visit your title’s detail page, add your e-book to the cart and check out with a digital copy of your title.Basically, it's like a plastic business card, with a scannable QR code that enables would-be readers to use their cell phones or tablets to access your book's order page, and a promotional code that lets them download the book for free.
I have to say that this seems like a pretty cool idea. Freebies can be a really effective marketing tool, especially for authors with multiple published books, stimulating sales not just of the free title but of other titles by the author. Imagine being able to hand out these little BookStubs at conferences or conventions or other business events, or just to people you meet who are curious about your writing. Or leaving a few at bookstores, as an ongoing promotion. The novelty value alone would be a draw.
But...and you knew this was coming, didn't you? There's a catch. The price.
Author Solutions offers three package options for the BookStub program. The cheapest, the BookStub Launch Press Release, costs $1,199. For that, you get just 20 BookStubs plus a web-optimized press release. (In Author Solutions World, that's actually a bargain--the web-optimized press release costs $1,199 all by itself [yes, my jaw was on the floor too]. In the real world, though, it's a heck of a lot of cash for 20 plastic cards, 20 free ebooks, and a press release posted to PRWeb.)
Next is the BookStub Social Media Blast, which gets you 60 BookStubs, a press release, and a Facebook fan page (the example Author Solutions offers is totally bare-bones, with no cover image and virtually no optimization; it probably took half an hour--if that--for an ASI staffer to create the account and paste in material from the author's other websites). This package will set you back a cool $2,599.
The final package, the BookStub Virtual Book Signing, provides the most BookStubs--100--plus the press release, the fan page, and the opportunity to share a hosted online "event" with three other authors. The cost: an eye-popping $3,799.
Obviously, all this stuff costs something to produce and set up, and Author Solutions needs to make money. But the prices seem truly outlandish for what authors actually get--and why can't authors just buy the BookStubs by themselves, without the dubiously useful extras? Online press releases, for instance, are among the least effective of all book promotion strategies. And it's not hard to set up a Facebook fan page yourself; heaven knows the Internet is awash in free advice on how to do so.
I do think BookStubs are a nifty notion--but in my opinion, they'd need to cost a lot less to be worth an author's hard-earned cash.