Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Free eBook, anyone? An experiment in book publishing.

Free eBook download, anyone? Or would you just like to read part of a book online at a really great discount (it would have to be at a really great discount if you only get to read part of the book, obviously)?

Well, they're doing it again. Yes. Two major publishing houses, HarperCollins and Random House, are making some of their novels available online either for free, or nearly for free, to entice people to read for recreation. Here's an article from Guardian Unlimited Books that will tell you all about the experiment.

Is it naive of this book publicist to believe that HarperCollins and Random House are trying a little bit too hard to entice people to read their books? I mean, how many of us who work in, and around, the publishing industry balk at the idea of reading books?

Okay, okay, I know. I've read the statistics, too. People aren't reading now as much as they used to. But do we change people's reading habits -- and, not so coincidentally, do we increase book sales -- by giving away free books?

I'd hate to think we have to resort to giving away the store to entice people to read good books. And what if people just don't want to read novels online? Is that supposed to tell HarperCollins and Random House that novels are dead?

I don't even want to think about what will happen if this book publishing experiment fails.