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Free Books Online

Hemos posted more than 13 years ago | from the pretty-cool-idea dept.

The Almighty Buck 172

gaijin99 writes: "Kinda old, but Baen Books is letting any of their authors put up their books, for free, online. They are putting them up at the Baen Library No strings attached, downloadable in many formats. Apparently it got started when author Eric Flint said that online piracy didn't matter to book sales. Challenged to prove this, he got Baen to build the 'Free Online Library.' His position is that it will improve the sale of his books. Only six authors right now, but it looks good."

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Re:What about textbooks? (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 13 years ago | (#518366)

You might want to check out the math and science section of The Assayer [] . There's a lot of free (and some open-source) college-level math and science stuff there, but no K-12 stuff yet. (Well, I do know of at least one high school that's using my own physics book for their AP course.)

Anyone else think this might be useful?
Yes! All the people who wrote the books listed there!

Unfortunately, I think K-12 may be the hardest place to start making free-information inroads into textbooks. The politics you have to go through in most states to get a K-12 book approved is just horrendous.
The Assayer [] - free-information book reviews

Re:Looks good now (1)

eric17 (53263) | more than 13 years ago | (#518367)

In your dreams my brave little toaster! At best they can hope for is to generate willing buyers for their next novel, which of course will be delayed a bit before it gets on-line.

would you like help? (1)

gimpboy (34912) | more than 13 years ago | (#518382)

i lean more toward latex, but i would be happy to help! email me if you need it. we could goto sourceforge and startup a project... if you havent already: )

use LaTeX? want an online reference manager that

Re:The effect on other media (1)

Flabdabb Hubbard (264583) | more than 13 years ago | (#518383)

I can't make up my mind if this is a very subtle troll, or a very obvious attempt to gain karma... Either way, it adds little to the discussion.

thank you

About online comics... (1)

worldwideweber (116531) | more than 13 years ago | (#518384)

FYI, there was an interesting article in the SFGate about the advent of online comics, and the bad state of the comic industry: %3 D/technology/archive/2000/02/08/ape.dtl%26type%3Dt ech_column

*boggle* (2)

griffjon (14945) | more than 13 years ago | (#518385)

Someone--no, not just someone--the head of a well-known publishing company and its authors--is clued?

what a concept. This may revolutionize my book-buying tendencies. I wonder if BookPeople has a Baen publishing section (wise-ass reply, "look in sci-fi/fantasy")

I'm impressed beyond words. This is great. After the gloom and doom of the MPAA and RIAA repeating their tired arguments from the betamax time-shifting trials 20 years later, it's wonderful to see that some people who are at the head of their corporations 'get it'.

Now, if only they had a better webmaster...

Re:What about textbooks? (1)

jasonc (135311) | more than 13 years ago | (#518386)

Bruce Eckel [] does this with his "Thinking In Java" book, and possibly some of his other coding books too. Jason

Great Idea (2)

patrick687 (260027) | more than 13 years ago | (#518398)

I think it's a great idea. If you go there to read the book, and you like it, chances are you'll wanna go out and buy the actual book so you're not tied to the computer when reading it. If I saw a book online, I'm not gonna sit there and read the whole thing... I'll read maybe a chapter or two, then I'll go buy it if it's any good.

Wow, open source taken to the next level. (1)

Flabdabb Hubbard (264583) | more than 13 years ago | (#518401)

Will these books be 'open source' in other words can I re-write the ending if I don't like it ? That would be cool. So many stories have happy endings these days. It would totally rock if we could rewrite them...

BTW has anyone out there read 'lord of the rings' ? It totally rules, and 'the hobbit'.

Gee I hope I don't come over as a stereotype linux geek :-). OOops I'm listening to the 'dead.

Got to go, time to go and wash my beard. (I do this every month whether it needs it or not)...

online books. (2)

garcia (6573) | more than 13 years ago | (#518405)

I can only say for computer reading (not PDA books) that it is very difficult to sit there for hours on end and read the text on the screen. The text starts to blur (and from the little that I read on this site) I found it very difficult to read (there wasn't really any space between the lines and it just made it all jumble together).

It is a wonderful idea, and I appauled the creator, but for now I will stick to Amazon and the library.

Where do I pay? (2)

Jason W (65940) | more than 13 years ago | (#518406)

Did I miss the link to pay for the online book, or does it really not exist? Since when does paying for a story ("book" seems silly in these times) mean getting a physical copy. I pay for the words in the book, not the paper it was written on or the people who bound the book (I hate to destroy the industry of paper binders, but in the name of progress we may have to).

I agree with most others that reading books online isn't as convenient as paper versions at the moment, but it will one day be. There is even the possibility of a book with paper (or very much paper like) pages that can change it's text. That may seem a bit far out now, but in 20 years it could very well be a reality.

And I am willing to pay the same amount for the online book as I would pay for the physical version. Of course with such great advances as we have even now, I get to read the book first and decide how much I would like to pay for it.

So I ask again, where is the link to pay for these books?

Palm format? (1)

cosmol (143886) | more than 13 years ago | (#518407)

Can anyone tell me how to read these books on a palm. I have the .prc file, but I don't have anything to view it with.

Ebook on PocketPC (1)

ektor (113899) | more than 13 years ago | (#518408)

The book reader on Pocket PC, called eBook, it's really cool. The main feature would be its ClearType technology that renders the pages of the book to reduce eye strain.

More info here [] .

After a while you even forget that you are not reading on paper and best of all, whith the beautiful screen of the iPaq or the Cassiopea, you can read in the dark. And on top of that you could even play some background MP3.

Try to do that with your Palm!!!

Re:who are these guys? (1)

Darth Yoshi (91228) | more than 13 years ago | (#518409)

Egad, you've never heard of any of them? I'm surprised. They're all solid, I guess what you'd call midlist authors. Baen Publishing is one of the biggest privately held publishing companies in the country, specializing in science fiction and fantasy, owned and operated by Jim Baen. Checkout the sci-fi section of your local bookstore, a goodly percentage of the books will have Baen's little rocket logo on the spine.

Re:Looks good now (1)

Brave Little Toaster (111113) | more than 13 years ago | (#518410)

Interesting point, but I think the same idea that I stated before applies. At some point, someone has to put down money so the publisher won't think this sort of thing is an utter failure.

Even if this just serves to give lesser known authors exposure, the publishers won't be able to tell unless there is some kind of impact on their sales (hopefully positive). So if you like it, buy it and we can see more free books online.

(Also, there are people like me who reread books several times over and will buy books they really like...)


Re:Looks good now (4)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 13 years ago | (#518411)


Another thing to do if you support this experiment with free (-as-in-beer) information is to write a review of one of these books on The Assayer [] , which is a nonprofit site I run for user-submitted book reviews with an emphasis on free books. All reviews are copyleft licensed, and the site is noncommercial.

All ten of the Baen books are now listed (so far without reviews) in the site's literature section [] .

One of the main arguments people have made against free books is that without a publisher, you have no filter in place to get rid of the junk. The Assayer aims to disprove that argument by providing a forum for people to discuss which free books are good and which are bad.


By supporting Baen in this experiment, you'll also be helping encourage publishers to take the next step, which is to publish books that are free-as-in-speech, or at least partially free-as-in-speech, e.g. using OPL with the A&B options that prevent other print publishers from selling the same book in print. Until they take that step, there's always the possibility that publishers will make free-as-in-beer books not free again. This has happened with about 30 Macmillan computer science titles. You'll find them all listed on IPL [] as if they were free, but when you click on the link, you get a message saying they're no longer available for free.

You also have to realize that the publishing industry really doesn't know how this is going to play out. They'll try stuff and see if it works. They'll try antibooks [] . They'll try lame stuff like putting books online, but only with every single page as a bitmap, so that it's completely impractical to read them. (iUniverse [] , Dorling Kindersley, and Electric Press [] do this.)

The Assayer [] - free-information book reviews

Well articulated (1)

WebTurtle (109015) | more than 13 years ago | (#518412)

Eric Flint's welcome page essay [] on the welcome page of the Baen Free Library is an excellent read. I have not read as well thought out an argument about the whole online "stealing" vs. "free-promotion" thing since it started. If only Metallica had read this article before allowing their managers to scare them into suing Napster at the behest of their arm-twisting label. Sigh. It does give some hope for the future...

Reminds me of when Isaac Asimov... (5)

Max Hyre (1974) | more than 13 years ago | (#518413)

...told his publisher it wouldn't make any difference to sales if the paperback and hardcover were published simultaneously, because they were bought by two disjoint sets of readers.

Though skeptical, they tried it, and surprise! it was so.

Unfortunately, I forget who the publisher was, though I suspect Doubleday. He wrote about it in one of his many essays.

Re:Where do I pay? (1)

Ismilar (222791) | more than 13 years ago | (#518414)

Try Or, if you live in Canada (and don't mind clicking more than once to shop :) try Or go to a "physical" book store. The choice is yours...

Some screenshots (1)

ektor (113899) | more than 13 years ago | (#518427)

Some screenshots from eBook:
1. []
2. []
3. []

Re:What about textbooks? (1)

frinkster (149158) | more than 13 years ago | (#518428)

This is a great idea, but I see one problem - Who prints them? Its not economical to print out enough copies for all of your students. And don't even think about "a computer in front of every student". You would need to get a publisher on board that would be willing to print public domain texts. That might not be so hard, though. Not having to pay royalties might be attractive to a publisher.

Teachers would probably love this. My Mom was once chosen to help pick which book a school system used. She had to read 5 or 6 books and then everybody got together and discussed what they liked and didn't like about each book and which one would fit into the lesson plans, etc. It was not a fun ordeal for her. However, I bet that every single teacher would love to spend that textbook adoption time going over the available material, making necessary changes, and then placing an order with the publisher for the number of copies wanted.

State regulations would get in the way at first, but if this project gets good, teachers would be guaranteed to like it and put pressure on the state legislature to put the proper changes in effect so adoption boards can approve of this. And a few "for the children" advertising campaigns would help, although it would be very ironic that a "for the children" campaign would actually be "for the children". Oh, and don't forget about the almighty dollar. The state legislatures are going to jump at anything that gives them higher quality at lower prices and everyone knows how much they hate spending on schools. I had the opportunity to have two teachers for parents, and believe me they complain about lack of resources, crappy books, etc. A lot. Make this project good and the teachers will support it. Teachers are very influential. And don't mess with them, they're Union.

One last thing. If it is going to work, you have to get teachers involved. Teachers can figure out a lot, but you should probably make the project as technophobe-friendly as possible.

Re:Great Idea (2)

nightfire-unique (253895) | more than 13 years ago | (#518429)

I'll read maybe a chapter or two, then I'll go buy it if it's any good.

That's precisely how I came to part with $30 for The Cluetrain Manifesto. [] Great book, by the way.

All men are great
before declaring war

Re:Where do I pay? (2)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 13 years ago | (#518430)

It's definitely great that you do want to pay--that's kind of what Flint believed and caused him to start the Free Library in the first place, that most people do want to pay legitimately for content. I don't think they have a way to pay for the free books yet, though I think they're batting around the idea of setting up a PayPal account for those who do want to kick in for them.

For now, it seems like the best way to pay and prove them right is to go out and buy a physical copy (either locally or via some online place like BooksaMillion [] ) of the same book. Then, if you don't want it cluttering your shelves, give it away to a friend or donate it to a library or something.

Re:It encourages piracy (1)

MarkLR (236125) | more than 13 years ago | (#518431)

It's do different than Id releasing the first level of Doom for free, introduce people to your product. Baen has already been releasing the first 50 to 100 pages of their books on the net for a long time. This just takes it a bit further.

Re:Wow, open source taken to the next level. (2)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 13 years ago | (#518432)

Will these books be 'open source' in other words can I re-write the ending if I don't like it ? That would be cool. So many stories have happy endings these days. It would totally rock if we could rewrite them...
OK, I hereby nominate you for a '+1, funny.' But seriously, a lot of people think that the user's right to modify the content is the main point of open source, so they think open-source books are therefore a stupid idea. Actually, open-sourcing a novel (I don't think it's been done yet?) wouldn't mean you could modify the version the author distributed. It's like Linux. You don't get to modify the version of the kernel that Linus distributes unless he decided to let you.

And when it comes to nonfiction, it can make a lot of sense to allow people to fork off their own versions.

The Assayer [] - free-information book reviews

Re:you won't be seeing any popular authors there! (1)

zuvembi (30889) | more than 13 years ago | (#518440)

David Drake and David Weber are already popular, published, GOOD authors. I don't mention the other guys because I haven't read anything by them. So your point that only unknown authors will be on here is automatically mooted.

But realistically, no one can say with a straight face that someone who downloaded a copy of a commercially available work would be likely to go out and purchase a copy.

I've done this. A lot. Portishead, Curve, Placebo, Einsturzende Neubauten, Paris Combo, etc...

Would you please read the story next time, and think before you post.

Re:What about textbooks? (3)

Phexro (9814) | more than 13 years ago | (#518441)

great idea. let's make the teachers do even more work. it's not enough that they have to handle 30 to 40 inattentive, disobedient, ritalin-addled children for six hours a day for less money than they could make working at mcdonalds. let's force them all to buy computers with their tiny income, and do more work when they get home.

are you in human resources?

eBook devices, man! (2)

dmorin (25609) | more than 13 years ago | (#518442)

For christmas, on a whim, I suggested to my wife that a Rocket eBook would be cool (she'd said the previous day "I didn't get you many toys"). So I shortly found Baen. While it's true that sitting behind the computer all day is tough on the eyes, having a Rocket with you on the subway with a full novel or two is excellent. The device is even shaped like a folded back paperback (ambidextrous), with scroll buttons under the thumb so I can read it with one hand while holding onto the pole with the other. I haven't bought any books for the thing yet because I'm reading free stuff like Baen has to offer (and has some good stuff, too). I mean, come on, Baen has James Hogan, how can ya beat that. I'm just confused by what is actually free right away, what you have to subscribe to, and what I can get in eBook format that I need to pay for.

Only two downsides to the Rocket device are the slow bootup time (close to 10 seconds) and the extra weight. It's just a little too heavy to hold for a long time.

I've already complained to Amazon that they only support the Microsoft reader, of course. There's even a bit in their FAQ where they say they don't support handhelds yet. Oh, joy.


Re:online books. (1)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 13 years ago | (#518443)

Well, it's easy enough to put them on your Palm [] if you have one. That's how I read them . . . and then the sequels, after I got hooked on the Bellisarius books and shelled out for the Webscription months containing them. If you don't have a PDA, well, what are you waiting for, go out and get one. ;)

Online intellectual property piracy is a fallacy. (4)

doublem (118724) | more than 13 years ago | (#518444)

Napster has been responsible for most of my recent CD purchases. Tired of getting burned by CDs with two good songs and 10 terrible ones, I'd drifted away from modern music, but then Napster came along, and I got to preview all the music for a download. I ended up buying CDs of groups I never would have listened to otherwise, or had only heard one or two songs by them on the radio.

I'd chalked up the whole "Harry Potter" thing to the "Latest cool thingine" style craze that brought us Pokemon. Then I stumbled across the first three books in text form on Usenet. Yes, I read the first three for free, but I got addicted to books I NEVER would have read otherwise. I bought the fourth book, will be buying the rest of the series as it comes out (Unless it starts to suck) and will probably take my little sister to see the movie when it comes out.

Bottom line is, having books and music available online has caused me to buy MORE instead of less.

Heck, I even ended up buying the hard copy of an O'Reily book I already had in the Perl CD Bookshelf because I wanted a hard copy to mark up, dog ear and bookmark instead of having to fire up my browser every time I wanted to look up a code snippet.

And now I've read the first chapter to Black on Black and look forward to perusing it on my Palm during my next flight. []

Re:Piracy shouldn't be a problem (1)

cronio (13526) | more than 13 years ago | (#518445)

Or at HOME, with your PARENTS computer paper, on THEIR printer

A Great Example Is..... (4)

Danious (202113) | more than 13 years ago | (#518446)

.....Bruce Eckel at . All his books are free on the net. I downloaded "Thinking in Java 2" and started printing it out at work a chapter at a time, 2-up, double-sided on A4 and storing it in a ring-binder. After about 3 chapters, I was sick of the inconvenience, so went out and brought the book (a very worthwhile investment, I might add).

I suspect a LOT of people have done the same thing, and Bruce seems to be doing OK as a result. He makes some very good comments about it halfway down the page at , worth reading.

I really don't see e-books taking off until we get those high resolution, paperback-sized flexible e-paper things. The reason books have lasted so long in their present form factor is convenience, which e-books currently don't have.

Re:This a bad thing. (2)

istartedi (132515) | more than 13 years ago | (#518447)

Since when have musicians stopped making music??? Look! There's Brittney Spears, and Eminem and... Oh. I see your point.

My book is online and it is selling well (2)

bmomjian (195858) | more than 13 years ago | (#518448)

I wrote a PostgreSQL book at [] The book is online, but I sold 2,155 print copies in the first month. Clearly having it online has helped book sales.

Using Samba (2)

Mr. Flibble (12943) | more than 13 years ago | (#518449)

As I look up on my bookshelf, amongst no less than 30 O'Reilly books (geek bragging :) I have Using Samba [] . If you take a look at that link you will notice that there are two links off of it, one in HTML [] and the other in PDF [] format. This should not be a surprise to most /.ers. O'Reilly has been big on this for some time.

Still, I began reading Using Samba online, and after reading much of it I grabbed the book because it was so useful, sure, I can load it into my palm pilot, but that is a pain in the ass. I suppose I could print it out too, but I prefer dead-tree form.

The other advantage to this is of course that when I am working on a server I don't have the book with me on location, so I fire up a browser and read.

I also purchased The Unix CD Bookshelf. [] I already have Unix Power Tools [] in dead-tree format, but being able to search the HTML version is very handy. Sure, I know where to get the warez version of this CD, and maybe the purchased edition comes with Unix in a Nutshell as a bonus, but I bought the set because it was valuable to me, and I support O'Reilly. Does having books online increase readership? I certanly think so, my friend who has both of the O'Reilly CD compilations that he got from Warez Ftp has not read them, well, he claims he read Building Internet firewalls, and TCP/IP Network Administration. But then again, he also claims that he read Running Linux in one day and grokked it all (yet he can't seem to use a bash prompt very well...)The truth is, he hardly got anything out of the online versions, I do, but I mainly use the online material for reference, not for general reading.

There is no doubt in my mind that O'Reillys decision to place some of their books on the web for download (or in plain HTML on CD) has greatly increased my purchase of their books.

Re:What about textbooks? (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 13 years ago | (#518450)

This is a great idea, but I see one problem - Who prints them? Its not economical to print out enough copies for all of your students.
This was probably a stronger argument back before textbook prices went totally crazy. Nowadays, the prices are so ridiculous that it really would be cheaper in many cases to photocopy one copy per student. To use a college-level example, the latest edition of Halliday and Resnick's Fundamentals of physics is $180. No, that's not a typo. That's roughly 20 cents a page! (For comparison, it costs the publisher about $5 per copy for paper printing and binding on a black and white book with line art, assuming it's a long print run.)

I was also surprised when a couple of high-school teachers ordered stacks of the CD-ROM version of my own (college-level) free physics textbook for their AP physics classes. Personally I wouldn't want to be a student and have to work from a CD-ROM for a whole course, but maybe for these schools the financial situation was either CDs or nothing.

The Assayer [] - free-information book reviews

Re:Online intellectual property piracy is a fallac (2)

Jin_the_Wicked (242756) | more than 13 years ago | (#518451)

How horrible your life must have been without "libraries" or "record stores" in your town, so that you had to turn to the web before you could read a book before purchasing it or sample a CD before buying it.

You're ignoring the fact that libraries and record stores are only filled with the products put out by the same companies which are fighting mp3s/ebooks. He had to turn to the web because he was sick of all the substandard material being produced by the major record companies and publishing houses.

In addition I have been reading alot of literature lately, which for either popularity or political reasons isn't readily available in the states. I have to read it online or go to certain lengths to get it. Other examples might be people who are not near a library or one of the record stores which allow you to listen to music before you buy it. Some of us have to walk in the snow or ride a bus if we want to go somewhere. We're not all priveledged enough to have a car, or tastes and interests that are convieniently in the majority, like you apparently are.

Re:Why Baen lost Bujold and Moon (1)

Bob Costas (234537) | more than 13 years ago | (#518452)

They died?
"You just stranded one of the world's greatest leaders in San Dimas!"

Hey.. (1)

Bob Costas (234537) | more than 13 years ago | (#518453)

..Apparently, it also has a calculator [] .
"You just stranded one of the world's greatest leaders in San Dimas!"

Re:Great Idea (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 13 years ago | (#518454)

Thats what I am thinking. Not that I wouldn't just read it on the computer but... I LIKE to read on paper. I sit at a computer for 7 hours a day at work (sometimes 8 or more if I sit through lunch or stay late) - I don't want to spend hours reading book son one too.

Books I find easier to sit and read for long periods. Not to mention that "bookmarking" works better ;)

And I just bought a bookshelf... do need to finish filling it.


Re:What about textbooks? (1)

jrcamp (150032) | more than 13 years ago | (#518455)

Did I say anything about making teachers do it? I was inferring to some sort of online collaborative project where teachers of the same subjects could each write parts and such. I'm truly sorry if I did not make myself clear. Therefore, it would be something strictly optional. It would also mean that the most committed teachers would be doing it since they would be doing it on their own free time.

And like I said, each teacher would only have to write a small section since there are so many eligeble teachers out there to do something like this. Of course, a standard form of writing, outline, etc. and such would have to be agreed upon to tie the book together.

Another option is for the government to pay the teachers to create a book. It seems like it'd pay for itself in the long run, but that's just my perspective.

PS: Teachers get paid more than you think. It's just the "thing" to complain about how little teachers get paid. They chose to go into that profession knowing what kind of pay they would get. In addition, if a teacher wanted to contribute to such a project, they could always use a computer at school.

reviewing (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 13 years ago | (#518456)

At the risk of sounding like a broken record and a shameless self-promoter, it would be more useful if people would review free books on The Assayer [] .
The Assayer [] - free-information book reviews

Re:who are these guys? (2)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 13 years ago | (#518467)

Eric Flint may be relatively new, but David Drake and David Weber are both old hands in the publishing game. Drake's been writing for something like at least 20 years, and probably best known for the Hammer's Slammers tank-mercenaries series of novels and stories. Weber's Honor Harrington books are also quite popular among military SF fans, and are also a homage to the Admiral Horatio Hornblower books of old.

This is a method of publicity, yes--but then, Baen considers its entire Webscription program [] itself to be little more a method of publicity, as low as the prices are that it charges--and there are those better-known authors who are incensed at having to sell their books so cheaply (and without DRM copy-protection to boot).

Re:you won't be seeing any popular authors there! (2)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 13 years ago | (#518468)

But realistically, no one can say with a straight face that someone who downloaded a copy of a commercially available work would be likely to go out and purchase a copy.
A counterexample: I've had a few thousand dollars in sales of my book [] , which is available as a free download. (A few more k$ and I'll have made back my investment in printing! :-)

The Assayer [] - free-information book reviews

Re:Wow, open source taken to the next level. (1)

sandman935 (228586) | more than 13 years ago | (#518469)

BTW has anyone out there read 'lord of the rings' ? It totally rules, and 'the hobbit'.

IMNSHO, you absolute must read Tolkien before you read any other fantasy books. Tolkien set the standard. Everything else pales incomparison.


goddamit. (1)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | more than 13 years ago | (#518470)

This is why i keep buying Baen books.

suggestions (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 13 years ago | (#518471)

Can anyone list any books that they recommend that are published by Baen? I'd be interested in supporting this if someone can whip up my interest... I'm into sci-fi, but I'll do fantasy or mystery if I'm inclined...
Lord Omlette
ICQ# 77863057

Re:Piracy shouldn't be a problem (1)

sandman935 (228586) | more than 13 years ago | (#518472)

I can't. I won't read a book on the computer but I will read one on my Palm.

Re:What about textbooks? (3)

JordanH (75307) | more than 13 years ago | (#518473)

  • great idea. let's make the teachers do even more work.

Yes, it is a great idea, but I guess you just don't have the imagination to see it.

First, nobody was talking about making anybody do anything. I feel certain that there are a lot of teachers who are passionate about their subjects and would love to contribute to such a product.

Second, if the Schools could get away with paying less for text books, they'd have more money for, yes you guessed it, more teachers or higher teacher salaries.

  • less money than they could make working at mcdonalds.

While you might be able to find some odd case where a professional teacher makes less than someone in management at a McDonald's, by and large, the average teacher earns a great deal more than the average burger flipper. Heck, I'd take the low-end teaching job over the McDonald's managers job, which might, possibly be comparable in salary, any day of the week. Fast food restaurants work exempt employees long hours. The work is no fun and you have to ride heard on a bunch of inattentive, disobedient, ritalin-addled teenagers for 16 hours a day.


Computer reading: Use an LCD. (1)

yerricde (125198) | more than 13 years ago | (#518474)

it is very difficult to sit there for hours on end and read the text on the screen. The text starts to blur

Not if you're using an LCD, especially with subpixel text rendering [] . It's at least five times sharper than the average CRT.

there wasn't really any space between the lines

That's what style sheets are for. Make one with one of those CSS tools and use it.

Like Tetris? Like drugs? Ever try combining them? []

Ahem. (1)

buss_error (142273) | more than 13 years ago | (#518475)

I sent this in 12/29.

Still listed as pending.... Hmmm.

Rice is already doing it. (2)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 13 years ago | (#518476)

I'm working with a group at Rice University that is putting some of our textbook content online. It's only reached a useful state this summer, and online texts are currently being used as a supplement for two ELEC courses here.

We've got our own DTD (although are trying to borrow from existing stuff like the Dublin Core elements when possible) to do page markup for educational content, and XSL+CSS stylesheets to turn that into XHTML+MathML that browsers (well, currently just Mozilla; soon IE too we hope) can read.

Wish I could give you a URL, but all the good stuff is being restricted to on-campus access right now.

There's also a couple universities working on a similar system, and a company doing the same sort of thing (although aimed more at corporate training). It's an idea whose time has come; it's just a question of who gets there first.

More free lit onlnie (3)

prizog (42097) | more than 13 years ago | (#518477)


Mostly Illegal: (yes, it's in russian. Some of their stuff is in English, tho. Look for authors you know, modulo transliteration (Ray Bradbury -> Rej Bredberi))

Also, Google turns up some great stuff, if you just put in the title of the book and the author: the search "Bullet In The Brain" Tobias Wolff turns up, in the first 20,

Re:Online intellectual property piracy is a fallac (1)

Jin_the_Wicked (242756) | more than 13 years ago | (#518478)

I agree with you...I don't see why people are so scared. (Well, I do, but I'll get there.)

Is this really that big of a deal?

I've watched alot of people arguing over mp3s in the last several months. At the peak of my CD buying days I had about 200 or more. Now I'm down to about 50, which are the CDs that are of such quality that I haven't grown tired of listening to them in years. CDs I bought for one song, or as an impulse, or that I ended up not liking as much as I thought I would, have all been sold off. I download mp3s at a rate of maybe 10/week. I download an mp3 for one of three purposes:

  • I only want/like one or two songs by that artist, and so buying the CD is a waste.
  • It's something rare/foreign that I could not get affordably or at all in North America.
  • It's a new [to me] band and I'm deciding how much I like them, at which point I would purchase a physical version of the music, for one main reason:

I feel that the CD is worth my money, which I had to earn, and have very little of to spare.

You can substitute any media you want in the above example, really. The simple fact is that even with the spreading of portable mp3 players, the sound quality is not as good as the CD and most people will not want to be so dependent on their computers. So you can get a book online for free, so what? Very few people will want to read anything of that great a length online. Even those who pay in paper and printer ink to make a physical copy will then be stuck with a big stack of papers that won't sit neatly on a bookshelf or be particularly easy to read. One thing I never hear people mention is art. I'm a visual artist, and this seems signifigant to me. You can type in a famous artist's name and pull up a number of scans of an artwork on any search engine. You can print them out and hang them on your wall, or even print them on t-shirts. Are the galleries and poster companies throwing temper-tantrums over this? I certainly haven't heard anything. People still pay art museums and poster companies for the work in question. In fact, they may see something they like and then go to a museum they might otherwise have never visited. I don't see how books or music are any different. There's not a whole lot of pleasure in sitting in a sunny window reading a computer monitor, and you certainly don't want to be carrying a loose stack of papers on an airplane, train, or sit with it under a tree. And I don't know about you, but when I'm listening to Beethoven's 9th, I want it to sound like I am *there*, in the highest quality CD sound possible.

I think the real issue here is that companies are afraid that now they will actually have to produce material WORTH what they charge you for it. If I want to hear an original, interesting song and all the music companies want to offer me is people squeaking "Happy Birthday" on cheap kazoos, should I be expected to buy it? Before mp3, the music companies could push whatever they wanted and people would buy it because they didn't know better. Now anyone with a band can record a song and distribute it. The solution is for the record companies to strive to produce higher quality, better-sound CDs, and music that doesn't suck. I think the only thing keeping them in business now are the radio stations (to which there are online alternatives, even) and MTV. It's easier to try to eliminate/control the competition than cut into profits to produce a higher quality product.

The publishers may be afraid of e-books or piracy, but they really have no reason to be. They simply need to learn from the music industry's mistakes. Concentrate on higher-quality products, more variety, and reasonable prices. The record companies aren't losing any money on me -- when it costs more to buy one CD than it does to pay for my electric bill, ISP, or a week's worth of groceries, you can guess which comes first. Billy Joe Bubble Gum Synth Pop who gets 75% of the radio/MTV playtime is not worth that kind of money. And for the GOOD musicians/authors/artists -- I also would like to see more of them inventing ways to cut out the middle men so that I can reward and thank them for the work they create without having most of my money go to someone else.

Content versus medium (2)

The Famous Brett Wat (12688) | more than 13 years ago | (#518479)

First up, a general comment: the best thing about this Slashdot article is not the free books at the other end (I'm not planning on reading any of them -- no time for it at the moment) but rather the remarkably clueful commentary about why giving away free e-books is a good idea. Read it. I doubt I'll read anything else more interesting than it today.

But now, in direct response to the previous poster, advances in publishing technologies (like laser printers and CD burners) are not going to put authors and musicians out of business. They might put publishers out of business eventually, but that's just the nature of change. On the other hand, maybe publishers will just change what it is they do and become marketers rather than manufacturers.

But authors and musicians, as the article on the site points out, are in no danger of being replaced by machines. If people want to read books and listen to music, then someone needs to be writing the books and composing and playing the music. If there are enough people willing to part with enough money to create a market for books and music, then the market will arise one way or another, with "copyright" or without.

At the moment, all remuneration for copyrighted works is done retrospectively: the artist or author has already done all their work by the time you pay for a CD or book. If this scheme breaks down because of rampant "piracy", then it may eventually mutate into a scheme whereby artists and authors start with loss leaders, making some works available for free, then saying "there's more where that came from if enough people send me money".

There's a technological hurdle to overcome here, of course. It can't work without extraordinary ease of communication and payment. We've basically got the former now, but not the latter. The payment technologies which do exist still haven't quite managed to be killer apps. Reading the author's book is pretty easy, but getting him a payment easily is another matter. When it becomes as easy as tossing a coin in a busker's hat, the economics of the information-based markets will change almost overnight.

When such technology manages to break past the widespread-acceptance barrier, my prediction is that the giant faceless corporations of the entertainment industry will be badly undermined by the fact that new artists will get a much better deal in the free marketplace than by signing up with them. The publishers will find their supply of new talent cut off, and eventually have nothing new to sell. Their reduced dominance may persuade lawmakers to stop extending their copyrights retrospectively and making draconian "protective" laws. Then what will they do? They'll actually have to start providing a service to artists and audiences, or nobody will notice their passing.

Re:reviewing (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 13 years ago | (#518480)

"Browse by subject author title reviewer"

I don't mean to be a pain, but can you (or the maintainer) please add publisher to that? Think about it: If Baen really is serious about releasing all their books online for free, and other publishers aren't, doesn't it make sense for us to check out Baen books and buy them if we think it's worth it?
Lord Omlette
ICQ# 77863057

Great concept, lacklustre books (1)

k8to (9046) | more than 13 years ago | (#518481)

I read the intros/first chapters of about half the books up there, and .. unfortunately found none of them appealing. *sigh*

I really wanted to, they just seem like what I call the 80% of science fiction. Bland prose.. ungripping stories.. blah. My tastes aren't everyone's I suppose.. some people think David Drake is a great read, I think it's pretty mindless.

I will give them this, I actually picked up half these books and tried reading them.. Which given the covers I would never have done in the store. I would really love it if more authors would do this.. it lets me browse books when i have time, not just when I'm in the store.

I wonder if the first impression effect occurs differently on web browsers than paper...

Re:Piracy shouldn't be a problem (1)

pogen (303331) | more than 13 years ago | (#518482)

I regularly read 500,000+ word novels online. Last year, I read Ben-Hur, Great Expectations, Pride and Prejudice, Oliver Twist, Silas Marner, and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, to name a few -- all downloaded from Project Gutenberg. You just have to make sure you're comfortable, the screen isn't too bright, you take regular breaks, etc. Common sense stuff.

I don't find it any more fatiguing than reading a paper book; in fact, the opposite is often the case. Maybe I'm an exception, but when you consider how many of us work in front of a computer for 8-10 hours a day, then come home and surf the web until bedtime, I doubt I'm the only one capable of it. Most people who find the idea inconceivable haven't actually tried it -- which is not to say that it doesn't take some getting used to.

Of course, I still read paper books, but with a two-year-old running loose, stealing my bookmark, kicking the books under the sofa, etc. I find it more convenient to do most of my reading on the computer. YMMV.

Free books?! (2)

alexburke (119254) | more than 13 years ago | (#518483)

Whoa! Look out, Amazon!


Piracy shouldn't be a problem (1)

RainbowSix (105550) | more than 13 years ago | (#518484)

Ok, so books are open. 1. Can somebody actually read 150-1000 pages of text off a computer monitor without going blind? 2. Printing will cost more than just buying it. For me, I perfer a hard copy to take with me in my pocket or what not.

I dunno... (1)

mbadolato (105588) | more than 13 years ago | (#518485)

I still have issue with trying to read books online. I mean, I think it's great that they're making them available for free, but to me it's just too damn irritating to read a book via my monitor.

I haven't tried any handheld book devices, and i'm curious to see how they are, but for now I much prefer the good old fashioned dead tree books.

Re:This a bad thing. (2)

patrick687 (260027) | more than 13 years ago | (#518486)

You know, it isn't pirating. Someone isn't scanning/typing books in and giving them to someone else... It's nothing like Napster because the books are voluntarily placed there by the creators of that piece of work. By the way, I thoroughly enjoy reading, especially some older Drangonlance books, etc..

Library of Alexandria (1)

Digitalia (127982) | more than 13 years ago | (#518488)

With the potential for new authors to have their work seen, a lot of technologists say we should be seeing a new philosophical rebirth. So where is it? Has the new Library of Alexandria been torched in the process, or may the day yet come?

Re:Great Idea (2)

phutureboy (70690) | more than 13 years ago | (#518489)

Eh, or perhaps the downloadables serve as free publicity. Build up a big enough buzz about a book, and the number of people who buy hard copies will be greater than it would have been otherwise.

You'd be better off to give away 10 million free copies and sell 1 million than to only sell 600,000.


What about textbooks? (2)

superid (46543) | more than 13 years ago | (#518491)

A few weeks ago I heard on the news that a local city spent $11M last year replacing worn out high school textbooks and I thought, "boy, wouldn't opensource textbooks be a great idea?"

In particular I thought that elementary or middle school math books might be a perfect candidate. Math concepts don't change wildly, and the structure seems pretty straightforward...concept, examples, problems... I even started working on an XML DTD to define this.

Anyone else think this might be useful?

you won't be seeing any popular authors there! (1)

smarner (212673) | more than 13 years ago | (#518493)

As noted on the site, a lot of sales are generated by "word of mouth," which can be stimulated by circulating the work in any way possible - - mailing out free copies, on the internet, etc. For this same reason, a lot of musical artists that no one has ever heard of supported But the simple fact is popular, established artists, like Metallica and Stephen King, don't need to generate word of mouth, and probably wouldn't willingly make their commercially available works accessible for free online. And the two media - - mp3 music files and online texts - - really aren't so different. They both suffer from degradation, in a fashion. With an online book, you don't get the glossy cover, the hard spine, the crisp pages, all assembled into a nice package. But realistically, no one can say with a straight face that someone who downloaded a copy of a commercially available work would be likely to go out and purchase a copy. That said, it doesn't mean that established artists couldn't use online publication to release other works that aren't commercially available, to establish and maintain good will among their fan base.

Re:It encourages piracy (2)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 13 years ago | (#518496)

It's no different than Id releasing the first level of Doom for free, introduce people to your product. Baen has already been releasing the first 50 to 100 pages of their books on the net for a long time. This just takes it a bit further.
Indeed. In this case, they're releasing the first couple books of a series for free--then you have to buy the rest, either by the normal method or by their Webscription. (Frankly, I hope more of these books come out by Webscription. Cheap, fast, and easy to put on my Palm [] . :)

Re:Palm format? (2)

doublem (118724) | more than 13 years ago | (#518497)

There are several readers available, many of which are freeware or open source. Http:// [] has more info, as does [] and there's even a Slashdot article on it []

Don't forget: [] [] []

Re:goddamit. (1)

BoySetsFire (178757) | more than 13 years ago | (#518498)

a heinlein fan, i presume. that darn cat Pixel...errr...Schroedinger's cat. i think this is a great idea as well. i happen to be a huge heinlein fan as well. got about 200 various heinlein books, in multiple editions of some, including mints firsts of my faves.

Re:Palm format? (1)

sandman935 (228586) | more than 13 years ago | (#518499)

Try using RichReader. It's free and works well IMHO. You can download it at Palm Pilot Archives [] .

You may also want to check out MemoWare [] . There are many documents for download.

napster et all (1)

chompz (180011) | more than 13 years ago | (#518500)

I did the same as many others, I downloaded music off of the internet and found myself falling in love with bands I have never heard of, and will probally never hear on the radio. Should they be complaining? Probally not, I bought more CD's in the past year than I had the 7 previous because I was so sick of getting a CD for only one good song. Sure, it was only 20 or 25 CD's, but that is about how many CD's I owned prior to finding other musicians which I would have not heard of.

Music had never operated the same way books do, and will continue to do. It is unfortunate, as it seems to me that authors and publishing companies have been around for years while thier work was being litterally given away at the library. Maybe its experience talking to them, but it seems that the instant bottom line vs future sales argument might mean something to record companies.

$15 today for the music I "stole" off of napster doesn't do much, but if I like the band I might buy 5 or 6 of thier future CD's that I would have otherwise not purchased. Lets see, $15 today or $90 in a year, which is more money.

It is a relief to see someone take the proverbial head out of the ass and do something worth while for consumer rights and privlidges.

Re:Online intellectual property piracy is a fallac (5)

donutello (88309) | more than 13 years ago | (#518501)

Bottom line is, having books and music available online has caused me to buy MORE instead of less.

Yes, but that's only because the existing technology/medium is not sufficient for your needs. Wanting to read a book at night without staring at the radiation from a CRT or handheld display and also the desire to keep a book in your bookshelf to impress the chicks; but those are the reasons you bought the book - not some moral obligation you felt to pay a usage fees.

Books will continue to hold this advantage for a while. The same is not true for CDs, etc. If you had the equipment to burn the CDs and print the labels on them (if you were so concerned about appearing cool) you would be a damn fool to pay the money for the CD.

It would be very foolish for the music industry to assume that people downloading music for free will always automatically want to buy it if it turns out to be good.

Netlibrary (2)

dennisp (66527) | more than 13 years ago | (#518502)

Netlibrary [] has a bunch of free books on their site - 'though I think most of them are just from project gutenburg.

Forget free though: Anyone interested in cognitive science can get access to all the MIT press books in cognitive science* at netlibrary (in encrypted downloadable and web form) for just $120 (students) or $240 (everyone else) by going to It also includes access to the MIT Encyclopedia of Cognitive Sciences, and The New Cognitive Neurosciences 2nd Ed, and everything else they say they offer (the "community" aspect is non existent though - it basically consists of announcements {talks, seminars}, and interesting links.

*(includes hundreds of books in: neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, AI {genetic algorithms, computational intelligence, neural networks, etc}, linguistics, culture, evolutionary biology, and several other topics).

Re:I dunno... (1)

chompz (180011) | more than 13 years ago | (#518503)

Don't forget, as we learned on sunday, the best material for creating paper out of is hemp.

PDA downloads are hosed (1)

sandman935 (228586) | more than 13 years ago | (#518504)

I downloaded three of the .prc books. Unfortunately, they are loaded with HTML tags. I guess another option is to load the HTML pages using AvantGo [] .

Thousands of Free Books! or Project Gutenberg (4)

Amigori (177092) | more than 13 years ago | (#518505)

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Project Gutenberg [] . They have thousands of books available to download in .txt or .zip format. Most of the literature is Classical, but there are many excellent titles. Definitely worth your time to check out if you are into the eBook/eText thing.

Books are a great alternative to video games.

Random "Free" PDF Books (2)

dennisp (66527) | more than 13 years ago | (#518506)

"Light and Matter [] Physics" High School/Community college level.

"Handbook Of Applied Cryptography [] "

"Numerical Recipes in {c, fortran} [] "

"The Scientist & Engineer's Guide to Digital Signal Processing [] "

"Using Z [] "

"The Red Book [] "

etc. I'm sure there are a ton of others.

GNUArt (2)

mirko (198274) | more than 13 years ago | (#518507)

GNUArt [] is an organization which approach consists of GPL'ing Art under virtual forms.
The difference with what's happening here is that if these books were GPL'ed, they'd not only be free of charge but they could also be reworked by anybody prior to being distributed once again for free. Well, you know the GPL, don't you ?
Anyway, even if they only made these books free as in free beer, it is a good thing that these authors accepted to take whatever some might call a "risk".

Re:Online intellectual property piracy is a fallac (2)

Danse (1026) | more than 13 years ago | (#518508)

but those are the reasons you bought the book - not some moral obligation you felt to pay a usage fees.

I've purchased CDs from for that very reason. I want to support the artists whose music I like. I've downloaded entire albums from, yet I still paid for them. Now I'm sure there are a lot of kids out there that download stuff for free and never give it a second thought. But they usually don't have the tons of cash it takes to buy the CDs anyway, I know I never did. It's the post-college crowd that will be more likely to pay I think.

Re:What about textbooks? (1)

slam smith (61863) | more than 13 years ago | (#518509)

I think the only time I've seen a teacher sweat is when they walk their picket lines bitching about how little money they make. A teachers salary isn't really that bad when you take into account the 2.5 monthes of in the summer and stuff like super long X-mas breaks.

Looks good now (2)

Brave Little Toaster (111113) | more than 13 years ago | (#518510)

I expect to see a positive response to this story. Remember how everyone said it was so cool when King put some chapters of his book online? But how many of you actually paid?

The next step is to put our money where our mouths are. If you read these books and think they're any good, go buy them.

Prove to the publisher that this sort of experiment is good for them, and we'll see more of it. Don't just post to /. and say you like it.

Just my $.02


Not excessively old material, either. (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 13 years ago | (#518511)

I googled the three Drake titles, and got copyrights of 1997, 1998, and 1999 (not in that order).

Most of his work doesn't push my buttons, and in fact I didn't even bother finishing his overhyped Lord of the Isles, but I heartily recommend his old novel Birds of Prey. SciFi meets ancient Rome, kind of thing. That one really ought to be made into a movie.

If you like Birds of Prey, then try his Vettius and Friends, which is a collection of short stories set in ancient Rome (sans SciFi, with a couple of exceptions), including a wonderful man vs. shark story that purportedly predates Jaws.


who are these guys? (2)

Mojojojo Monkey Inc. (174471) | more than 13 years ago | (#518512)

Honestly I haven't heard a thing about any of these authors, and right now there's only 5 or 6 of them listed on this webpage, and only 2 or 3 books per author. Have these guys been rejected by major publishing companies and this is their way of getting their names out?

Now if these guys are popular artists and people have heard of them I apologize. But I've worked in some libraries for quite a few years and I can't judge whether or not these guys actually have a popular following yet... maybe this is their way of grabbing 15 minutes of fame =)

Good Work (1)

Prizm (52977) | more than 13 years ago | (#518513)

I agree personally...I think this will improve sales. Granted, people will use a feature such as this to get a feel for different books on different subjects. But I feel confident that once they find a book online that they use regularly and find resourceful, they will more-than-likely purchase it. I know this is my case, I couldn't stand to read an entire book online.

And hey, it sure makes finding passages easier when the book is online, my brain doesn't have that trusty "Find Next" feature. =)

E-Book Headaches (1)

robbway (200983) | more than 13 years ago | (#518514)

First off, depite the fact there are more books in the public library than I could ever read in my lifetime, I buy books. I'm a book buyer. Admitting to this is the first step. Second, I can't stand reading books in a digital media. CPU screens are too bright for long sessions. It's hard to kick back in bed with a good notebook or PDA. Just doesn't have the same feel.

The sad truth is I think people will print these out if they seriously want to read it. This really wastes the concept of electronic books, but I know people who print out all of their e-mail.

Seriously, I think that this method is the best way to expose your writing. Get people wanting more. You also run the risk of being exposed for the hack author you may be. Sell some books, put some online, but always put the older ones online. Throw in a dash of exclusive e-book and you have yourself a business plan.

My preferred way to read e-books would be on a paper-white, high-contrast, reflective display (currently only known as print), so I hope they get those printable monitors [] (Slashdot, July 5, 2000) on the market!


The effect on other media (1)

Halo- (175936) | more than 13 years ago | (#518515)

I'll be interested to see how this works out. Just today I took a break from work to run to the bookstore with a co-worker to pick up a few selected titles. (Programming related) We both completely agreed online reference/books are "Good Things"(tm) that we wouldn't be able to work without, the good books you buy. Period. He paid with his own money, even though our employer pays for work related books, because the importance of it being his copy was an issue for him.

I just bought an excellent SSL/TLS book on the basis of the chapters the author had graciously posted online. Those chapters helped me a lot, and even though I have ethernet to my bedroom, curling up with my laptop is only nice some (okay, okay most) of the time...

I think the argument could quite easily be extended to the dreaded MP3 format. Yes, I have several gig of mp3's, both at home and at work, but I also own several hundred CD's. (yeah, I've been meaning to convert them to Ogg...) The point is that if I like the mp3, more often than not, I'll buy the CD. As much as the online world is a part of my life, there is a feeling to having the physical media which isn't the same from a ripped or burned copy. A large number of CD's and books I own would never have even been considered if I couldn't try them online first.

Doncha think an interesting poll would be: "What percent of the MP3's you actually listen to do you own a 'real' copy of?"

Re:Piracy shouldn't be a problem (1)

Bwah (3970) | more than 13 years ago | (#518516)

That's why you print it at WORK silly. :-)

Re:This a bad thing. (1)

Ismilar (222791) | more than 13 years ago | (#518517)

Books (unlike music) are not severely overpriced. I don't mind paying $8 CAN for a physical book. I can take a book anywhere, and read it anytime without having to worry about batteries.

I would also not mind paying a decent price for a CD. Unfortunetly, Record Companies charge obscene amounts of money for a CD (which costs pennies to manufacture, and the artist gets less money from each CD than a writer gets from a book). Music piracy is a result of the record companies charging too much.

Re:reviewing (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 13 years ago | (#518520)

A lot of the books on the site are purely digital, and there's not publisher at all in the traditional sense. In all the browsing windows, free books show up with icons that show whether they're free. There is also a mechanism in some of the browing pages to exclude non-free books from your searches.
The Assayer [] - free-information book reviews

Re:Wow, open source taken to the next level. (1)

Fire Dragon (146616) | more than 13 years ago | (#518522)

Actually, open-sourcing a novel (I don't think it's been done yet?)

Don't think that it has been done like open-source code, but I do remember some novels to be written online(one chapter at time) on my BBS times. Or one project where you could join and only received the last chapter and then wrote your own witch you sented to sysop and next writer. When last person finished his/her chapter, the novel was published on-line. Now that was a storyline you couldn't guess.

Does anybody know if these kind a projects can be found from the net?

Out of print books (1)

Akuinnen (174212) | more than 13 years ago | (#518523)

I think this is a great idea for out of print books. Some of the lesser known or less popular Sci-fi books you just can't find anymore. Seen Larry Niven's Inferno anywhere lately? How about Phillip Jose Farmer's Riverworld or The World of Tiers series? Used book stores if your lucky.

Re: What about textbooks? (1)

Amomynous Coward (256120) | more than 13 years ago | (#518524)

Here's a thought along those lines.

The folks that make the dead tree books now don't type them out one at a time. I mean, they are probably composed on a computer. So they have already been written.

The only work that would have to be done would be for those companies to convert them to something suitable for viewing online.

I'm still a bit fuzzy on how they would make any money on this, considering they now charge "by the book" and once they are published digitally they will have to start playing the anti-piracy game, but you get the idea.

Difficult to prove anything (1)

LittleStone (18310) | more than 13 years ago | (#518527)

One school says: free online content promote piracy, hurt sales.

Another school says: free online content promote the content, help sales.

Experiment: let the authors to choose whether to put their books online for free, and compare the sales figure overtime (use the sales figure before free release as control) or to other authors' works.

Conclusion? Extremely difficult to draw any scientific conclusion because of the SELF SELECTION. The authors choose to release their books free because they get comparatively higher benefits from the promotional/network effects than the authors choose not to release online. However, comparing sales figure overtime or across authors capture this comparative difference at the same time.

A better natural experiment is to randomly releasing the books free, independently from any authors' or publishers' preferences.

Or we model the decision and incorporate exogeneous factors in this estimation (Heckman's 2-stage method?) AFAIK, I haven't come across anything in this area yet.

I should go back to my desk and start to do a part of my thesis on this.

Re:Online intellectual property piracy is a fallac (2)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 13 years ago | (#518529)

But they usually don't have the tons of cash it takes to buy the CDs anyway,

This comment illustrate what's the biggest fallacy on 'piracy'. Fact: most people have a limited budget to buy CD / software. Therefore, counting every 'pirated' product as a lost income for 'IP producers' is wrong; since if there was'nt any 'pirating' means available, most people would not have bought more. Therefore the theoretical loss is zero, nil, nada, zilch.


Re:This a bad thing. (1)

AndyChrist (161262) | more than 13 years ago | (#518530)

While I am completely against the existance of the Dragonlance books, as I think they are cliched, idiotic GARBAGE...some of the worst attempts to ape (not imitate..APE) Tolkien EVER...I think they're the perfect example of the sort of book that (IMO) I THINK would be best sold this way. Something where you can put COMPLETE, SELF-CONTAINED stories online...and a lot of them, even...and still have a lot of other stuff which the readers would be interested in, but have to pay for to get.

Or how about back to LOTR, which has popped up a bit in this article...give away the Hobbit, but you have to pay for LOTR

Re:who are these guys? (1)

Kithran (24643) | more than 13 years ago | (#518532)

Have a look at the authors then have a look for them at Amazon or somewhere similar. One of the authors (David Weber) made he top ten for sci-fi last year at Amazon. Some of his books (including one that is in the free library) are now being reprinted in the UK as well. While Baen is almost certainly not considered a major publisher they only produce science fiction and fantasy turning out roughly five books a month.

Another Baen initative was Webscriptions where you could get 4 or 5 books a month online for only $10 - and these were their latest releases. This scheme has now been going for over a year and shows every sign of continuing.


Re:What about textbooks? (2)

jrcamp (150032) | more than 13 years ago | (#518535)

Great idea. Imagine what could get done if just 1% of the currently employed teachers got together to work on a book. I've been unable to locate a quick figure but I imagine 1% would amount to a lot of teachers. This would reduce the costs for schools and it would mean that students could have all of their textbooks on computers. I'm sure it will be way too late for them to do anything before I get out of school (I'm currently a Junior in High School.)

Schools spend all this money on these new Compaqs (although Compaqs do suck) and such great new "technology" but they fail to do anything that *really* helps the students. I'm sorry, but access to the Internet going at 1.6 kilobytes a second doesn't help me that much. It's more there for the teachers and their e-mail, etc. Unfortunately, "high technology" is just a buzzword in the education system. It's a shame they don't focus on more important things.

Computer Books Don't Work (1)

Ribo99 (71160) | more than 13 years ago | (#518536)

I tried curling up with one in my bed but the damn monitor cord wouldn't reach.


Re:online books. (1)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 13 years ago | (#518537)

It is a wonderful idea, and I appauled the creator, but for now I will stick to Amazon and the library.

I think that's sort of the point. They're expecting that you'll download books to sample them but wind up buying the print copy for the better print and portability. The originator of the idea is expecting it to help sales, and I think that your preference for hard copy is evidence that he's likely correct.

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