Each month, more authors, publishers, libraries, and promoters of books experiment with the free distribution of ebooks. I assume and hope the trend will encourage technology companies to develop better devices for reading ebooks. I also expect more writers to adopt the practice of publishing on the Web, because it’s quick and easy, and undiluted feedback is guaranteed. (The absence of feedback is one form of criticism.)
This month, well-publicized examples of strategic marketing with free ebook downloads were news. After Oprah Winfrey announced she would make Suze Orman’s Women & Money temporarily available as a free ebook, a million copies were reportedly downloaded from Oprah’s website.
Several more publishers recently began distributing free ebooks on their websites or via email.
(a subsidiary of News Corporation)
This major publisher’s online promotion, prominently advertised on its homepage, gives readers full access to a few ebook downloads for limited periods. Along with other authors’ books, one of Paulo Coelho’s titles will be made available each month during 2008.
(a subsidiary of Bertelsmann)
For three days only (February 27, 28, and 29, 2008), this major publisher is giving away a free ebook version of the New York Times bestseller Beautiful Children by Charles Bock.
[Updated on February 27, 2008]
Tor and Forge Books
(subsidiaries of Macmillan and Holtzbrinck)
Lovers of science fiction and fantasy can register on this site for a weekly link to a free ebook download. The publisher has already given away John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War and Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn.
Digital library collections
Digital library projects continue to develop, expand, and merge.
The Open Library
Aaron Swartz calls for volunteers to contribute to a free Web-based catalog of every book ever published.
The University of Oregon makes available “an online repository of works printed in English between the years 1477 and 1799.”
Representative Poetry Online
The Department of English at the University of Toronto and the University of Toronto Press make 3,162 English-language poems available online.
Authors and editors
Book editors and authors are distributing their digital works on the Web.
The Stanford law professor, Wired columnist, and chair of the Creative Commons project shares his work freely on the Web.
With the support of The Friday Project, readers can download a novella by Caroline Smailes in exchange for a donation to One in Four, a charity that provides support to people who have experienced sexual abuse and sexual violence.
Party-Directed Mediation: Helping Others Resolve Differences
This book by Gregorio Billikopf is available online as a PDF. I enjoyed working on the second edition as Billikopf’s copyeditor. His book is a great resource for employers and mediators.
[Updated on February 4, 2009]
K. Sawyer Paul’s novel, published through Lulu and bearing a Creative Commons license, can be downloaded for free from the author’s website, which also links to a video trailer for the book.
[Updated on February 25, 2008]
38 Poems by George Mattingly
The PDF ebook was created for a reading given at Moe’s Books in Berkeley, California, and five audio poems in MP3 format were recorded at the Monterey County Free Libraries’ Seaside Branch.
[Updated on March 31, 2008]
Booksellers are also changing shape.
Ebooks are delivered in installments via email or RSS by this subscription-based service. More than 750 titles in the public domain, serialized in increments that can be read in five minutes, are available for free.
This company sells magazines, books, and other documents as PDF files. Users can view free trial issues on its website.