The Washington Times - May 1, 2009, 04:09PM

Eleven days ago, I wrote about the power of Twitter to sell books and information products. In it, I mentioned the mantra of David Meerman Scott, who believes you can start a “World Wide Rave” by doing just that. Now, a Christian publisher in Nashville is putting the theory to a rather impressive test.

Thomas Nelson Inc. is more than 200 years old, and has a raft of experience in publishing, especially of Bibles and Christian books. Their CEO, Michael Hyatt, is super-smart when it comes to new media and social media, and last night he blasted these words out on Twitter:

SEE RELATED:


In August, we will pub The Expanded Bible, similar to the Amplified Bible, but better. Download it free NOW: http://tr.im/k9kV

Because I “follow” Mr. Hyatt on Twitter, I learned about this and, being interested in the subject, downloaded the book. Wayne Hastings, a Nelson senior vice president, gave permission, in an e-mail, for me to share the link and download here.

Even if you’re not a reader of the New Testament, look at what Mr. Hyatt and Mr. Hastings are doing: they’re taking a PDF, or electronic copy, of a book that’ll likely sell for $20 to $25 when it’s released and giving it to you now. Sounds crazy, right? After all, this isn’t an excerpt or a sample, but the whole product.

To me it may not be that crazy, however: If this “expanded” Bible is as good as they claim, a “seeding” of the market will create buzz and interest and translate into more sales when the print copies appear. And even if I were not inclined to buy one myself, I would almost certainly have to get a “dead trees,” or paper, version if I wanted to give it as a gift. Either way, they sell books.

I note this here not to advertise religion, per se, but rather to show that Mr. Scott and others such as Warren Whitlock are onto something: give away content, and you can end up making sales. It’s an old method — ever see free samples in a candy shop? — but with a decidedly digital twist.