Friday, May 22, 2009

Free book offer

It's a download, which isn't so unusual, although most of the books that are free to download are in the public domain. Little Brother was only published in 2008 but the author Cory Doctorow makes it freely available online here.

He says it makes good commercial sense and it does. I read some of it online and liked it enough to want to buy the hard copy so I could read in bed and on the sofa. It's also in line with his philosophy, which is don't punish "pirates", don't even have such a concept as "pirating", make information more freely available not less. The enemy of book sales isn't downloads, it's obscurity. That makes sense to me.

The book is Young Adult and it's about what happens in the wake of a terrorist attack on San Francisco. The main theme is how the government responds to terrorism by putting in place systems that only harm the innocent. I believe that this is true. In Britain, you can't be held in prison without due process of law - unless you're suspected of terrorism.

I found the book to be a fun read but then I like near-future science fiction, computers and teenagers. Neil Gaiman says
I'd recommend Little Brother over pretty much any book I've read this year.

I don't often recommend books but this one is worth a look and it needn't cost you anything at all.


24 COMMENTS:

Bevie said...

"In Britain, you can't be held in prison without due process of law - unless you're suspected of terrorism."

Same here in the U.S. Fear has become the order of the day and the way politicians control the masses.

That will change again, but it will take a long time, I'm thinking.

I think Cory Doctorow is right about obscurity. People assume that if they haven't heard of you, you can't be any good. That's not exactly logical, but I think it's the way people think.

Richard N said...

Having read the book, I'm happy to recommend it as well worth reading.

Another one of Cory's books I've enjoyed is 'Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town' which is also available free here:

http://craphound.com/?p=150

It'll take your head to some strange places, only familiar to people who may have 'experimented' during their student days... ;-)

writtenwyrdd said...

I meant to post this link on the blog and forgot. I'm glad you did so.

Another free book (up this month) is by CC Finlay and is "The Patriot Witch" at http://a1018.g.akamai.net/f/1018/19025/1d/randomhouse1.download.akamai.com/19025/THEPATRIOTWITCH.pdf (And I do plan on posting that one on the blog. Sounds like a good read.)

Sarah Laurenson said...

Thanks for the link!

freddie said...

Downloaded. Thanks for the link!

fairyhedgehog said...

Bevie: Worse still is if people never get to hear of your book at all. Then you don't sell any copies.

Richard: I'm glad you've read it too. It swept me away. I'm sure it's very flawed in places but to me it was pure delight to read - except for being very worried that the protagonist wasn't going to get out of it alive. I'll look at the other one too. If I like it I'll probably buy a hard copy because I do like reading in bed.

Writtenwyrdd: I thought this one might be right up your street. I love the sci fi posts you have on your blog and your Boetha stories. I'll have a look at the Patriot Witch too. It's an interesting title.

Sarah and freddie: Glad to oblige!

Richard N said...

FH: I like reading in bed too, and there's not always a hard-copy available... that's why I love my rather spiffy Sony ebook reader, and Babs liked it so much a week after buying mine we had to buy one for her too...

fairyhedgehog said...

Oh, Richard, you tempt me sorely. Maybe when Christmas comes... (I've had my birthday.)

sylvia said...

I read this when it came out to see if it looked like an interesting book for my son. I was only halfway through it when I sent him the online link,saying "You've got to read this." He was intrigued and provoked and it really did make him think about current issues, both in the US and the UK.

I forwarded the link to someone else who I know also bought the book (actually after hearing a synopsis from my son) so there's no question in my mind that Doctorow has received sales by making the book available for free. I have no idea of he increased sales but I'd like to hope so :)

fairyhedgehog said...

Sylvia: I wanted my son to read it but I don't think he will. Maybe my other son will...

The free availability seems to be working as a marketing tool.

Robin S. said...

Cool idea about the portion as a freebie.

Richard N said...

Sylvia: Sales aren't the only revenue stream available to an author such as Cory who offers electronic versions for free and sells hard copy - it's all part of building the 'celebrity' of the author who then becomes marketable in their own right as a paid speaker etc which can be quite lucrative if you're good at it, and he's certainly that.
Successful marketing is about recognising and exploiting as many different revenue-streams as you can get away with...

*This retired salesman hangs his head in shame*

fairyhedgehog said...

Robin: Not just a portion. You can erad the whole thing online if you're minded too. He lets you record it, recombine it, do anything you like with it except make money from it.

Richard: I didn't know you were a salesman. You have hidden depths.

Richard N said...

FH: I sold HiFi for a living for a couple of decades after the engineering collapsed in the early 80s... it was a lot of fun, and working in high-ticket retail in a city centre you get to meet a lot of interesting people, especially people working in the nearby theatre etc.
(Bonnie Langford's voice is really like that... Kate Bush is a shy little violet, and Brian Blessed is LOUD.)

JaneyV said...

This is a very cool idea and, as you say, only increases the profile of the author in question.

Detention without charge came in just before I arrived here as a reaction to the repeated IRA bombings, and I was terrified of being dragged into Paddington Green because I might look like some IRA activist. I carried my passport everywhere with me for three years so I'd be able to prove who I am.

fairyhedgehog said...

Richard: that sounds like it was fun. I'm not surprised that Brian Blessed is loud. He hosted Have I Got News For You once and he boomed his way through the show - quite spoiling it for me.

Jane: That's really scary. I can't see how anyone can justify detention without charge and I'm sad to live in a country where the government considers it acceptable.

JaneyV said...

When you think about the historical context - the IRA were planting bombs all over the place in the late 80's- it makes it, at least understandable, although still indefensible (IMO). And in the end it was sitting down at the table and being prepared to listen and negotiate that won the peace. There's a lesson in that.

fairyhedgehog said...

Understandable, maybe. Indefensible, definitely. If another country does this we scream "human rights abuse" and rightly so.

SillyBoy said...

I actually downloaded this some time ago, because it sounds like it mirrors the sort of real-life nastiness that I'm rather concerned about. However, I never actually got round to reading it, because it sounds like it mirrors the sort of real-life nastiness that just thoroughly depresses me whenever I read about it.

Having briefly dipped in, though, it seems like it'll be a good read, so I've put the file somewhere I'll trip over it repeatedly until I actually read it.

fairyhedgehog said...

SillyBoy - It got a bit nasty in places but I didn't find it overwhelming and it is definitely a hopeful book.

I'm glad I bought a copy though because without an e-book reader, reading online is limiting.

Richard N said...

FH, I see what you're doing...

That was a pretty subtle hint for your dearly beloved about the ebook reader you'd like for next Christmas. ;-)

fairyhedgehog said...

Richard - They are a lot of money, though. We could buy a hammock for that price.

Also, I'm waiting to see which turns out to be the VHS and which the Betamax.

Richard N said...

It's a fair point about the VHS/Betamax thing - although it's less of an issue because there's a lot of un-DRMed material that can play on either reader so there's no real risk of being stuck with something useless - it was something we considered at some length, especially as we bought two of them.

I don't think either of us have paid for any content yet in the several months since we bought them, as what we tend to read is in the public domain through Project Gutenberg et al, or CC licensed like Cory's work - the things we want to keep permanently we buy a 'hard' copy of because a house feels more like home when it's full of nice cluttered bookcases. :-)

fairyhedgehog said...

Nice cluttered bookcases are good, although most of ours are on the landing. You may have seen the picture of it here. There's a small bookcase in the music room (that was my counselling room, then the cat room. It's kind of multi-purpose.) Other than that we have books scattered liberally all over. I really should tidy up.

E-book readers do seem like a great idea. You can carry a dozen books at a time with only the weight of one. But I'm not convinced I'd be able to get hold of the books I like to read: sci fi, Tanya Huff books, etc.

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