Thursday, February 14, 2008

Free books on HarperCollins website

Free stuff is always great and free books online is even greater. The New York Times reported earlier this week that HarperCollins Publishers will be offering on their website free electronic editions of some of its books on its website, including books of Paulo Coelho, Neil Gaiman and Erin Hunter.

The idea, explains Motoko Rich in the NYT, is "to give readers the opportunity to sample the books online in the same way that prospective buyers can flip through books in a bookstore".

This step is part of a variety of online promotions that HarperCollins Publishers announced on in
a news release last Monday. Two options will be offered to readers on their website - in the “Full Access” Program, a select number of titles can be seen in their entirety for a limited time, and in the “Sneak Peek” Program, readers will be able to view 20% of many new titles two weeks before their on sale date.

According to HarperCollins news release, a key component of this program is the launch of a year-long promotion of bestselling author
Paulo Coelho’s books. Each month an entire book will be available for free. The first book, currently accessible, is The Witch of Portobello.

“I believe that online reading helps increase book sales,” said Paulo Coelho. “I am very pleased that HarperCollins is able to make my titles available online for my fans to read.”

Besides Coelho's book, you can all find now on
HarperCollins website the following free books:

Mission: Cook! My Life, My Recipes and Making the Impossible Easy" by Mr. Irvine

I Dream in Blue: Life, Death and the New York Giants" by Roger Director

The Undecided Voter's Guide to the Next President: Who the Candidates Are, Where They Come from and How You Can Choose" by Mark Halperin

Warriors: Into the Wild" the first volume in a children's series by Erin Hunter

Another writer that will also have one of his books posted in the 'Full Access' progam is Neil Gaiman, the fantasy novelist, short story and comics writer. Gaiman invites readers of
his blog to help him choosing the book that will take part in the program. You can do it on Gaiman's blog (go to the post from February 9 and click on your favorite book). The updated results can be seen on this page.

I liked what Gaiman had to say to the NYT about his participation in the program and the concept behind it: "“I didn’t grow up buying every book I read,” said the English born Mr. Gaiman, 47. “I read books at libraries, I read books at friend’s houses, I read books that I found on people’s window sills.” Eventually, he said, he bought his own books and he believes other readers will, too."

Gaiman gave a further explanation to the point he tried to made on his blog: "I think the point I was making wasn't so much that eventually you buy your own books, as that there's not and there has never been a simple one-to-one relationship between the books you read and way you find authors and the books you buy. It's more complicated than that, and more interesting. It's about the way that it's assumed that books have a pass-along rate, that a book will be read by more than one person. If the people who read the book like it, they might buy their own copy, or, more likely, just put the author in that place in their heads of Authors I Like. And that's a good place for an author to be."

The free electronic editions would be available only for one month and readers won't be able to download or print the books, but nevertheless it's still a good opportunity to explore some great books at no charge. If you like any of the books there, but hate to read on your computer screen, try to see if there's any
bookmoocher out there who is offering this book. It's also free!

In any case, it would be interesting to see if free content will actually result in increased sales as HarperCollins is hoping to be the case here. I promise to keep you posted as soon as HarperCollins will report on the results of this new initiative.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!