Helping the second edition outsell the first


I just finished reading a great book on personal finance. From what I recall, the author has been publishing this particular book for a number of years. So, the one I read was at least the second edition of that title, and maybe even the third or fourth.

This raises an interesting question: if only a small portion of the contents are updated with each new edition, how do you convince people who bought an earlier edition to keep upgrading over time? I believe the solution involves two steps: conveying the value of the updates, and making the follow-on purchases affordable.

To convey the value of getting the latest edition, the author or publisher simply needs to point out what’s new and why it matters. For instance, a book about taxes would probably be updated whenever there are significant changes in the federal tax rules, and that’s something that readers of an earlier edition would probably be very interested in learning about.

As for making the follow-on purchases affordable, just provide a coupon or other discount that enables owners of a previous edition to save money on each subsequent edition they purchase. The discount might even be greater for those who have bought three or more iterations of that book over time.

However you choose to implement these tactics, the outcome should be the same: buyers of earlier editions will be more likely to purchase subsequent editions of a book. Aside from the obvious benefits, this approach may even lead to a snowball effect, where each new version of the book exceeds the sales thresholds from the previous ones. That’s great for the author and the readers, since it provides the economic incentives to keep producing new editions, and makes it all but certain that repeat readers will get the current and relevant information that they’re looking for.