After years of telling authors they could not give out the numbers of free downloads at the Apple iBookstores, a few days ago Smashwords downloaded all this information to authors' accounts, apropos of nothing. I won't get into bashing Smashwords; it does no good and changes nothing. Instead, I'll focus on the numbers:
My 2012 Apple sales (free and paid), were 37,109. Subtract the 385 paid downloads I had there last year, and that's 36,724 ebooks given away at Apple, globally. Throw in another 8,000 and change from Barnes & Noble, and I gave away damn near 45,000 ebooks.
I'm still trying to figure out what this means, to be honest. My stated goal was to break out of obscurity. I don't see how I could have done much better than that: There are tens of thousands of people who've read (or at least downloaded) my stuff now, who hadn't in 2011.
Maybe this means it's time for 'free' to come to an end. Maybe I should be contrarian and give even more stuff away for free. Maybe it means nothing at all, except people will, hoarder-like, take whatever you're passing out, whether they intend to read it or not. I don't know.
I do know that I've got some writing to do.