Who"s davidlian?

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davidlian is an ultra-geeky chinese dude that works for a technology PR agency. He loves fiddling with techno-toys, plays Warhammer 40K, and shoots pictures wherever he goes. Here, he rants about PR, Technology and anything else. Don't expect balance and un-biased, he ain't no journalist. Anything said on this blog are solely davidlian's personal views. Don't confuse them with company mantra, client's views or views of any organisation he may be part of.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Free Books? Neil Gaiman and Harper Collins says so...

I'm a huge fan of Neil Gaiman, simply love his dark mix of mythology and reality.

Just yesterday, Mr. Gaiman and his publisher Harper-Collins just announced the availabilty of one of his classics - American Gods - for free reading on the Harper-Collins website. Apparently, this is going to be some sort of experiment to see if people who take to reading full whole books online would buy an actual hard-cover or paperback.

I think this is a fantastic idea because the most unnerving thing about purchasing books online is you never really get to know the content of the book, especially if you can't find that same book in bookstores. Preview pages are great, but sometimes, I want to just browse through the entire thing before I buy.

By putting full books online for reading / browsing, publishers are effectively translating the whole in-bookstore browsing experience online. It'll be just like walking into a brick and mortar bookstore, picking up a book you'll potentially buy, and reading the first couple of chapters before actually buying the book.

Naturally, there's a fear that people will just read the entire book online, but in my humble experience, there's nothing quite like holding a real book in your hand. Besides, book piracy is already rampant on the internet and you can easily find best-sellers on any 'pirate' torrent sites out there, so I doubt putting full books online for free is going to dampen sales at all. In fact, it may encourage it.

Kudos to Harper Collins and Mr. Gaiman for this move. Amazon, what are you waiting for? Enough with crummy first chapters already!


Yuen-Chi Lian said...

I'm not too sure if that business model works, but.. I came across this article yesterday on what Reznor has tried:



In fact, Google Book has served the purpose (for you to preview the books), with missing pages however.

- yc

Yuen-Chi Lian said...

Looks like the URL is not nicely rendered. Click here.

- yc

davidlian said...

@YC: Yeah, the free music thing has been going on for a while - with Radiohead giving away In Rainbows for free.

But I think having the whole book online for reading is unprecedented - it's not just chapters we're talking about, that's been done like you said, but the whole book.

If you wanted, you could surf online everyday and finish reading the thing without buying it.

Presented with such an option, what would consumers choose?