What is the Value of Free?

November 3rd, 2015

32552308_sMy question is, does telling someone that something is free but it’s really worth £x make them buy or download it? I’ve seen a particular advert several times now and it still amazes me that in a world of intelligent people we have to be told that free means £47. The advert says ‘free e-book worth £47’.

My book, The Grown-Up Business retails at £15 although Amazon and others discount it to around £12.99. It is also available on Kindle today at £6.49. It has around 76,000 words, over 45 case studies and more than 200 how to, tips and checklists and is a proper grown-up book!

Now I don’t want to be precious about the blood, sweat and tears that went in to producing it, but when I see ‘free e-book (value £47)’ in magazines and on-line, I do wonder what planet the e-book author thinks I’m on?

If it was worth £47 then why not sell it for £47? Perhaps it should be £10 or £12 or £6.99 just like any other book?

Why £47? Do they think that will make me download it in exchange for my email? It doesn’t move me into action, it moves me not to act. Except that I do chuckle thinking that they believe by adding the ‘value £xx’ actually makes a difference.

I know this is a marketing gimmick – I have several free downloadable e-books on my website too, but they are free. I use them as a marketing tool – they are free and will deliver different levels of value to each reader – sometimes that is zero; other times it’s a bit but occasionally a huge amount – it depends who they are and what they are looking for.

Value, I know, is in the eye of the beholder. So I for one, will let my book, or my e-books do the talking and allow my readers to decide what it is worth to them.


Shirley Mansfield is a highly experienced business coach and Master Problem Solver. With over 25 years’ experience, she founded CoachSME in 2011 to work with business owners to maximise growth, and she is still trying to reduce the 14 handicap! Keep up to date by following me on Twitter @coachsme