This month I've downloaded two free books on my computer--Suze Orman's Women and Money book (yes, it was through!) and Charles Bock's debut novel, BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN, via his website through an agreement with Random House.

Both were offered for a limited time and arrived as laid out pages that you view through Adobe Acrobat. I have perused Orman's whole book, but have just nibbled at Bock's. Prior to downloading the books, I wouldn't have purchased either one, although I might have borrowed Orman's from the library.

Was this a good promotional strategy? A lot of Internet experts, including those who spoke at the Tools of Change publishing conference, think freebies are the wave of the future. I guess in Orman's case, she's a money guru who is on TV all the time, so exposure is probably more important than selling books. But what about for fiction writers? What do you think? Would there be a short story, past novel that you would give away for free?

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You can teach this old dog some new tricks, but I like holding a "real" book in hand--with a nice splash of ice tea as I sit in my glider. I can read inside or out as the weather permits and am able to look at the squirrels, deer, and other critters. I have only downloaded a couple of e.books. I prefer listening to unabridged tapes and reading my books in the paper format. I pick up books via the Net or pay the piper and get autographed copies of favorite authors via Seattle Mystery Bookshop (online) or maybe pick up a book club copy (belong to two mystery clubs with fulfilled contracts). It took me a LONG time to get to this financial stage in life, and I do really enjoy my golden years--no dumpster diving for me. Then inside of my head comes my mother's oft said comment, "Pride goeth before a fall." :-), but then my late hubby's voice counters with "Go for it, girl!"
I dropped the dang "d," but I thought of another line my musician husband would say to club owners that wanted him to audition for free: "I will audition for free if you will let me audition one of your steaks for free."
Don't forget book lovers don't just love to read. They love the smell of the paper, the feel of the cover in their hands and thoroughly enjoy the book in its physical form. Whether library or book store the search for that perfect read... is almost as fun as reading the actual book.

Free portions of the book does entice one who loves books, if they like what they see they will look for that particular story and author on their next shopping spree.

Okay, well, I've read BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN. Actually, I didn't read the download on my computer. I read, I don't know what to call it? the 'real' book?

As my friend who reviewed it for the Toronto Star said, you have to forgive him his years of creative writing training and read the book anyway. It's literary where it doesn't need to be, too long and too concerned with style, but often enough it gets to the heart of the characters in such a simple, enlightening way that it's more than worth it.

I don't know if you can call it exactly a 'crime' novel - but does it concern a missing boy.

If the free download helped it get attention then it was a good move.


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