What’s the catch with those Free “Just Cover Shipping” Book Offer?

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash


When you are browsing on social media or watching youtube videos, you are going to see lots of ads, right? And very likely, you must have seen some internet marketers or influencers promoting themselves by giving out their books for free: They will ship the book to your address, all you have to do is cover shipping.

Quite a lot of reputable people are doing this currently, and the offer seems legit. Some books are even the best-sellers, and if you look it up on Amazon, they have pretty good ratings.

Since I’m really into personal development, I find these kinds of offer irresistible. So I have ordered a couple of free books this way, and it turns out quite a few of them are top-notch quality, both the content and the book itself — I mean, I have received hard-cover books, and the paper texture feels great.

The fee they quote us is about fifteen US Dollars shipping worldwide, and I doubt that could cover printing fee, stocktake management and the freight cost itself, so they should be making next to nothing, if not making a loss by giving out free books.

Now, you might wonder why are they doing it? Is it a scam?

I don’t think it’s a scam, because I did receive the books, and they do it for several reasons. In this article, I’m going to list four major reasons why giving out free “just cover shipping books” is a popular marketing technique for reputable influencers.

1. Establish Authority

The most apparent reason is to establish authority. Look at the word itself: the word ‘authority’ contains the word ‘author’. In many people’s perspective, if you have published a book, then they’ll think you must be great at a specific field.

Imagine you are seeing an ad of someone who you have never heard of before. If they claim themselves the author of a book and about to give you one for free, even you are not interested in their offer; you will have some respect for them.

And it doesn’t stop from there. There are many privileges of being an author. For instance, you are more likely to be invited into speaking events, and if the host introduces you as an author, you’ll see the difference.

The audience will pay more attention. I’ve even seen people grabbing their phone and look you up on the spot.

It’s one significant reason why the big players want a book under their name, even they know it takes lots of effort, and probably won’t make much from the sale of the book.

2. Converting cold leads to hot leads

In marketing terms, we refer the book itself a lead magnet. As the name suggests, it’s supposed to attract leads and let your audience to like you more, so they are more likely to buy your product.

A basic fundamental principle of marketing is to get people to know, like and trust you. It shouldn’t require explanations that people who trust you will have the highest conversion rate, followed by like and know.

Giving out free books as a lead magnet will increase your audience size in these three categories. For someone who doesn’t know you but interested in learning more of your expertise, the book is a good way to introduce yourself. If the readers find value in it and resonate with your content, they’ll like and trust you more.

It’s a great way to nurture the relationship between marketers and the audience.

3. Capture your email to their mailing list

You might think it’s too good to be true, and indeed, there’s a catch to it.

The first two points explain why it’s great to be an author, and now I will go through the reasons why they are giving out books for FREE.

Apart from the shipping fees, there’s another thing you have to provide to get the free book. You’ve guessed it — it’s your email address. They’ll say it’s for sending the receipt and tracking details, but at the same time, they’ve captured your email to their mailing list.

Marketers would love to have your email address because you are a quality lead to them. After all, you are interested in their niche! You are more likely to take action after reading their newsletters, promotions and offers.

So if you have a tight budget, you might want to bear that in mind.

4. Opportunities to upsell

So you pulled out your credit card and entered your credentials on their landing page. Would you expect to see a page that tells you the order is completed, and the book is on the way?

Not so fast. 99% of the time it won’t happen. Or at least, not immediately. What happened here is, they’ll try to upsell you on the spot. They’ll start with selling their entry-level product such as another E-book or one-week training course, which typically costs less than a hundred US dollars to test the water.

Believe it or not, quite a lot of people will fall into this because they somewhat feel bad for getting a free book without buying anything. Plus since you are getting a free book anyway, it doesn’t harm to buy something small from them.

After that, the marketers will upsell you again, then follow up with mid-tier and higher-tier offer.

Obviously, as the offer gets more expensive, there will be fewer people buying. But that is not a concern to them, because the free book has provided them with an opportunity to sell their products.

So you might want to be cautious with the flow to prevent spending more than you anticipated.


So these are the main reasons why influencers are giving out free books.

A quick recap: it’s a great way to establish authority, and nurturing relationship with their audience. Also, they can generate revenue from the upsell, and even you didn’t buy anything on the spot, you could be their future customer as they’ve captured your email address.

I think it’s a fair deal because they are giving out free books. So you might wonder, what does that have to do with us?

For people who just started off their personal development journey but with a tight budget, they can take advantage of their marketing scheme. They can get a really nice book without spending as much ordering at Amazon.

They’ll just need to understand the logic behind so they don’t end up buying more products. To begin with, ignore all their upsells, read their books first. If you like the author, then you can decide to buy more of their products in the future.

If you don’t want to be spammed by their newsletter, you can register a new email for the free book or unsubscribe their newsletters immediately after you signed up.

By reading a few of those books you’ll have a solid fundamental of the niche, and if you wish me to recommend a few great books that I only pay for shipping, comment below, and I may write another article about this.

A never-settled millennial that likes to write topics about career and personal finance for the like-minded. https://becomeabetterself.com/

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