Getting the milk for free

February 11, 2008

Apparently, HarperCollins is of the opinion that letting consumers enjoy content for free on the web will actually help sales. According to this piece in The New York Times, the publisher will be following in comics’ footsteps:

“‘It’s like taking the shrink wrap off a book,’ said Jane Friedman, chief executive of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide. ‘The best way to sell books is to have the consumer be able to read some of that content.’”

They’ve picked five very different books to launch the initiative, including fiction for adults and kids, a cookbook, an election guide, and a book about sports. The freebies will be downloadable for a month at a time.

Neil Gaiman is playing along, and a certain comics hybrid is being cited as evidence in favor of the project’s aims:

“‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid,’ a children’s novel illustrated with cartoons, was published online three years ago at Funbrain.com, an educational Web site. But the physical book has spent 42 weeks on the New York Times Children’s Chapter Books best-seller list.”