booker shortlist set free 10.23.2007, 5:53 PM
posted by ben vershbow
The Times of London reports that the Man Booker Prize soon will make the full text of its winning and shortlisted novels free online. Sounds as though this will be downloads only, not Web texts. Unclear whether this will be in perpetuity or a limited-time offer.
Negotiations are under way with the British Council and publishers over digitising the novels and reaching parts - particularly in Africa and Asia - that the actual books would not otherwise reach.
Jonathan Taylor, chairman of The Booker Prize Foundation, said that the initiative was well advanced, although details were still being thrashed out.
The downloads will not impact on sales, it is thought. If readers like a novel tasted on the internet, they may just be inspired to buy the actual book.
Yorch on October 24, 2007 3:56 AM:
Alas, I understand the reporter was wrong about the texts - available they will hopefully be, free they will not.
Michael Bhaskar on October 24, 2007 6:56 AM:
Ben- alas the Times was wrong in its report, the books will not be free. It would have been a great opportunity to test the water regarding free, high profile eBooks as well as a good way of fulfilling the British Council's brief of promoting Commonwealth culture. Unfortunately I think it comes at too sensitive a time for most publishing managers- big decisions on DRM, cost etc are still outstanding and each of these titles are extremely high profile in their respective publishing houses. That combination effectively rules out the project going ahead were it to demand free access, so as far as I know the British Council have always seen it in financial terms. Probably the Times lazily assumed it would be free given the level of discussion around this topic (e.g. Radiohead etc). At Macmillan we are giving the scheme our full support; personally I think it would be interesting to test the last line of the Times, article- perhaps next year?
ben vershbow on October 24, 2007 11:01 AM:
Thanks very much Michael for the correction. I've updated the post accordingly.
John Miedema on October 25, 2007 8:55 AM:
Thanks for following this story, and issuing the correction. I fully expect that issuing free e-Books will eventually become a standard promotion tactic for publishing books better read in print (most kinds). Early adopters include Cory Doctorow, reasoning that obscurity is a bigger problem than piracy. (See http://www.quillandquire.com/blog/index.php/2007/04/23/if-you-wrote-something-set-it-free/). Regards.