Free download of Neil Gaiman's American Gods

Neil Gaiman's publisher Harper Collins has put his magnificent novel American Gods online for free reading as an experiment to see free digital copies sell print books.

This is a great idea -- it's really exciting to see publishers trying to get actual data about the market, rather than simply condemning all copying as piracy and hoping that the Internet just goes away.

However, I think that Harper Collins got this one wrong. They've put the text of American Gods up in a wrapper that loads pictures of the pages from the printed book, one page at a time, with no facility for offline reading. The whole thing runs incredibly slowly and is unbelievably painful to use. I think we can be pretty sure that no one will read this version instead of buying the printed book -- but that's only because practically no one is going to read this version, period.

The fact is that the full text of American Gods has been online for years, and can be located with a single Google query. I managed to download the entire text of the book in less time than it took me to get the Harper Collins edition to load the first page of Chapter One (literally!). The "security" that Harper Collins has bought with its clunky, kudgey experiment is nonexistent: pirates will just go get the pirate edition.

Unfortunately, the "security" has also undermined the experiment's value as a tool for getting better intelligence about the market. This isn't going to cost Neil any sales, but it's also not going to buy him any. We take our books home and read them in a thousand ways, in whatever posture, room, and conditions we care to. No one chains our books to our desks and shows us a single page at a time. This experiment simulates a situation that's completely divorced from the reality of reading for pleasure. As an experiment, this will prove nothing about ebooks either way.

It's a terrible pity. Link (Thanks, Spider!)

See also: Which book should Neil Gaiman put online for free?


  1. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d made it clunky on purpose, in the hope you’d read just enough to get hooked, then give up and head to amazon to buy the print version. Tor has a much better idea with their multiple-format free ebooks: i might still give up and get the print version in the end, but at least I’ll bother to try reading it in the first place.

  2. The really sucky thing is that, when this fails to work, some asshat in the future will cite it as an example for why free would never work.


  3. You might want to point out that the pictures themselves are not only slow to load, but of horrible quality. If you try to scale them to a readable size, the letters become very choppy.

  4. I have not checked out checked out the online version of American Gods, the paper version in my shelf does its job just fine.

    But a couple of years ago I did read quite a few books on my palm. Some of them ended up being bought in paper after I’ve read them on my palm. So I might not have read any of Cory’s books in the paper variant yet, but I’ve still got the paper variants as well. And they have been read, just not by me.

    Now, I don’t know if the people who have borrowed my books have gone out and bought some of Cory’s other books, but we have talked about them and spread the good word. So friends of mine have heard about the books, and I do know a book or two has been bought by other friends as a result of them being recommended.

    Half the point of putting a book online is giving the people who want to read it the opportunity to bring it with them on the bus or whatever their preferred place of reading is.

  5. I notice from Neil Gaiman’s site that he’s well aware of this issue and even namecheck’s Cory. He’s trying to do something about it.

  6. This reminds me of my recent endeavour to listen to Antonin Dvorak’s 9th symphony. (The one played in North Korea by the NYSO.) Just finding the CD took more time than to find a legal copy on the internet. Not to mention that the copy protection of the unCD successfully prevented my listening to the music I bought, since I don’t own such an extravagant luxury as a stand alone CD player and use my laptop instead.

  7. It’s not so bad on my desktop machine — though the scans are not terribly good, they don’t take very long to load — but on my iPod (so much more convenient for reading in bed) I can’t even scroll the pages. Not that I can see the point of scanning the pages anyway, when they could have PDFed or even TXTed the original.

  8. I don’t think HarperCollins get ebooks. This quote from last November is on their Web site, talking about the iPhone:

    ‘Victoria Barnsley, CEO and Publisher of HarperCollins UK, says: “As the leading publisher in the digital arena we’re very excited to be involved with the launch of this innovative product. With its large screen and tactile nature, I believe it could be the break-through device for consuming digital product on the go and brings us closer to the ultimate e-book dream.”‘

    Er, Victoria … ever heard of the Sony Reader? Kindle? iLiad ..?

    While publishers continue to abuse the ebook concept as a cheap, crummy marketing tool they will continue to muddy the waters so that readers don’t know there’s a cheaper, cooler alternative to paper.

    Maybe that’s the idea. I used to be published by that company. I’m glad I’m not any more.

  9. I was thinking about this issue, as I’m really trying HARD to figure this CC thing out. I was having an imaginary conversation with a publisher and asking if giving away a story, even in this awkward form is going to equal more book sales, or just increase site traffic so the publisher can earn ad revinue. I’d be interested in hearing some honest figures about this issue. And it is an issue for an author to let his publisher just use him as site bait.

    I tend to think that if you want to download a free book, you’re probably the kind of person that would have gone to the library to check it out. So, there is probably not going to be a net loss in sales. Of course, sales numbers are dropping as we speak do the fact that reading in general is dropping off. Blame the Game.

  10. “The fact is that the full text of American Gods has been online for years, and can be located with a single Google query.”

    So what, pray tell, is the magic spell, that will bring up the text version via Google?

    Or even better, the link.

    The Amazon and Harper abortions are a total waste of time.

  11. free my ass. i didn’t read all of cory’s commentary about it before i clicked. it was horrible. i was like… uh… where do you exactly expect me to read this? i can’t put it on my ipod or mobile phone to read it when i’m waiting for transit to occur?

    i think it is good that now they are starting to see that selling ‘property’ is not what it’s all about. in theory, you could read the whole book. that’s a major concession from these morons.

    give them time. it is significant that such a major publisher is testing the water. i certainly hope they pay attention that a decently well selling author is calling them lame for their half-assed efforts. i was not the slightest bit impressed. i’ve bought many books on the harper collins label before. that was so the ‘free*’ *not really free. kinda thing that makes me want to hurt people. LIARS.

  12. What is wrong with the Boing Boing site, it has gotten horribly slow…

    takes over a minute to load.

  13. We shouldn’t forget that it is awesome and promising that Harper Collins is doing this at all. We’re still experiencing the first steps of a massive change in paradigm.

  14. @ #6 themagus: You can improve on books by giving people choices. I know people who love paper and will probably never even give ebooks a chance. That being said, I now read more leisure books on my Pocket PC than in paper.

    I was so excited by Neil’s offer, and I voted for “American Gods” even though I’ve read it (in paper). I was psyched to re-read it on my mobile. Oops. Never mind.

    The free thing *does* work. I read the first few free books from the “Belisarius” series off’n the Baen Free Library. Then I bought the last two ebooks. Free advertised fare.

    I’ve also bought ebooks for books that I already own in print. I have a nice, big, fat, juicy print version of “Cryptonomicon.” Love it. But when it came time to re-read it, I paid out around $6 for the ebook, ’cause my phone weighs about 1/20th what the tome does.

    I’m now reading the Vorkosigan series on my mobile. I read the first two books in paper, on loan from a friend. So, again… free (borrowing a paper book) leads to fare (I bought the next two books for $5 each online).

    The “American Gods” thing is a shame. Just more dumb control phreaking.

  15. Aside from the portability issues, there’s another issue I’m surprised nobody’s even mentioned yet.

    With plain text and basic HTML, you’ve got a document that’s intrinsically accessible to the blind, the dyslexic, those with poor eyesight, those with neurological quirks affecting their visual processing… and so on, and so forth. It’s accessible to a very wide segment of the population which might even find it more useful than the dead-tree version of the book.

    This image-based presentation, however, is even less accessible than a hardcopy.

    Just from my own very limited experience playing with it, I can’t even zoom the thing to a size that’s comfortable to read on my monitor without it becoming, as someone already mentioned, incredibly pixelated— something that even reading glasses won’t help, because of course, the clarity is limited by the pixels on screen! And forget about adjusting the color scheme and font to something that I find easier to read, another nice benefit that e-text offers (and which I make quite frequent use of) that print simply doesn’t.

  16. Way back, around 2000, when I was a poor high school student, I would download ebooks off irc, run them through a script to make them palm text databases to be read in palm’s excellent reader application.

    I could read three novels at the same time, without having to carry around books.
    There was no more convenient way to do it.

    It’s funny; the “pirate” market filled demand so well.
    Back in 2000, when the “legitimate” ebook vendors were just getting started, the pirates already had tens of thousands of books, in a more convenient format.

  17. The thing I find a bit odd is that everyone voted for “American Gods” as the book to be made available to read online in the first place.

    Although I totally adore AG and have read it twice myself, I was one of the minority who voted for one of his shorter works (“Fragile Things”) to be the online freebie. I made my choice in part because I couldn’t see how something as long and involved as AG could possibly be read online. The final decision was made by the fans, so we really can’t blame it on the publishers, imho… here is a reminder of our task:

    “What I want you to do is think — not about which of the books below is your favourite, but if you were giving one away to a friend who had never read anything of mine, what would it be? Where would you want them to start?”

    I think most of us simply voted for our favorite, without considering the logistics of reading something that monumental online, and within a month to boot. Live and learn…

  18. I just send Harper-Collins my comment about what I don’t like. I didn’t fail to mention TOR promotion which I really enjoy…. (even though I haven’t had the time yet to read them).

  19. I think this idea is excellent. It works much the same way as someone borrowing a book from a friend. I borrowed American Gods from someone years ago. I loved it so much that I have since gone on to buy both a copy for myself, as well as copies for friends. I do, however, hope they can improve the quality of the download.

  20. In 2003 I put 3 book for free download on our offices´s site (
    They explained the way corruption acts affect the building industry in my town, Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brasil.
    One of them “Architectusaurus Erectus” had a printed edition for sale.
    Despite they are writen in portuguese, until now we had more than 45.000 downloads.
    That means the message they had to the readers arrived at the right adress.
    They are free in PDF version, until now I had no complains.

  21. Kristi has perhaps the most reasoned reply of all to this. The delivery method is not perfect, but this is a major US publisher trying something that runs counter to all the knee-jerk “sue them into the ground” logic that hes pervaded music, movies and publishing for some time.

    I keep thinking of that clip floating around from “My Super Sweet Sixteen” wherein the young girl melts down because she got her sports car present before her birthday party.

    It’s a great step in the right direction. Rather than wring hands and eat ashes I wrote to Harper Collins, thanked them for efforts and suggested how they might improve it. Positive feedback is going to go much further than simply labeling this FAIL and snarking it up.

  22. TOR books has a new website ( which i probably learned about on boing boing) where you can register and receive one free ebook each week in PDF or HTML. last week i read the pretty great ‘Old Mans’ War’ by John Scalzi. this week it’s ‘Spin’ by Robert Charles Wilson. i’ve never been into reading ebooks becuase it hurts my eyes but at this point i’m hooked. and i have to say it prompted me to spend a bunch of money i didn’t have on amazon. the same thing happened with pirated music. i would download a free song illegally, get hooked on whatever band it was and then go buy the whole record. the only thing that made me totally x out getting music for free was all of my broke-ass musician friends who don’t make money anymore because of the internet. now i’m just as broke as they are because of and the itunes store ( even though i just read about itunes not paying royalties and pocketing all the money). anyway, i’d love it if Harper Collins would take a cue from Tor and make their books available in a consumer friendly manner so i could read something besides just science fiction.

  23. I’ve never read any Neil Gaiman. This won’t change it for me.

    Cory is right, this half-arsed effort is nearly as feeble as Amazon’s ‘Look inside’.

    I invested in a hi-res WUXGA laptop (150dpi) so that I could read more easily onscreen. It’s a waste of time as far as American Gods is concerned.

    And Neil Gaiman’s response to Cory has the feel of a PR executive about it.

    I’m currently talking to Harpers about ways we can make the American Gods online reading experience (sic) a more pleasant one. And about ways to give American Gods away that would make Harper Collins happy while also making, say, Cory Doctorow happy too.

    Er, what about a PDF? Is that too complicated? It’s good enough for Google Books.

    I’m reminded of Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent’s response to Vogon poetry: “…counterpoint the realism of the underlying metaphor”

    And the Vogon’s response: “Death’s too good for them”.

    “Online reading experience”? Does Neil Gaiman realise how cheesy he sounds? If he really wrote those words, it’ll be a while more before I finally get around to reading one of his books, either in a book or on my super hi-res screen.

  24. Calling this a crass marketing attempt, and not an honest gift to interested readers/fans, is correct. You can’t download the book, there’s no format choice, lousy zoom options, slow loading of pages. There is no way that I can find to even bookmark a page! They released a massive book in a very limited “beta” proprietary browser. Clearly they don’t want you to actually read the book online, and this has to be intentional given the limitations they’ve knowingly put on it. But at the same time, they know that the headlines, like Cory’s own on this post, will be in their favor by being incorrect (again, you cannot download this book). And I bet that’s what they care about, getting credit for something that they aren’t really offering.

    Now, Tor is getting it right with their weekly ebooks. Easy to use, multiple formats, use your own program of choice… you get the picture. It’s a REAL, honest attempt to use free books to drive sales (and web site visits, in their case).

  25. I’m getting ok speed, but the scans are of terrible quality and the biggest irritant is that stupid “Loading…” sign that pops up as you scroll, distracting you and in the worst case obscuring the text you’re trying to read.

    I live with a couple of cats who like nothing so much as to get between me and whatever piece of paper I’m staring at (I pushed one off some notes on eigentransforms a few minutes ago). So I’m used to distractions. But this is just stupid, for two reasons:

    1) There’s no way it should take more than two seconds to load a page of text;

    2) If you have to put up a progress bar or busy cursor of some kind it should never, ever obscure the current focus of the reader’s attention.

    Good concept. Lousy execution. Too bad.

    A useful trick for finding full text versions of author’s works in PDF format is to google the author’s name and book title, while specifying the filetype as PDF in the Google “advanced” settings (you can also just add “filetype:pdf” to the search string). I’m not sure about this case, but you can sometimes get a hit in the first few pages, although for books that have a lot of academic interest there are typically lots of scholarly articles on them in that format as well.

  26. @ Andrew (#26): Don’t blame Gaiman. We don’t know the details of his HarperCollins contract, but I guess they own the e-publishing rights to his books, simply because they bought them at the same time as the “dead tree edition” rights. And not only him, but a lot of authors’ contracts have the same provision. It depends on what the copyright law is in your country, of course, and on wether you have an Internet savvy agent or not, but more often than not, the first stop for book authors who would like to go into e-publishing is their own “dead tree” publisher!

    So, if you’re frustrated by HarperCollins unhelpful and clunky “free” edition, just go to the “Short stories” section of his website, for several free e-texts:
    A fair sample of his talent ;-)

  27. You see, this is why I voted for a short story collection. Those can be read comfortably online.

  28. As Cory pointed out, the text of this book is easily located online, so these official images aren’t of much worth. That said, below is a bit of javascript which makes the format a little more friendly. And, when it’s done loading, you can save the page as a PDF or a web archive for offline viewing. (Alternatively, to archive the images as individual files, trivial modifications can be made to the javascript to print a list of image URLs instead of the images themselves. This list can be passed to a download tool such as wget.)

    Warning! 46MB of page images will be loaded in your browser in a single document! This will use a fair amount of memory and may slow down your browser and/or computer.

    Load the Harper Colins link then paste this line into your address bar and hit “enter”:

    javascript:p = tocJson.pages;for(var i=0; i<p.length;i++){document.write('<image src="/Services/GetPageImage.aspx?isbn13=9780060558123&pageguid=' + p[i].pLoc + '"/>'+(i%2?'<br/>':''));};document.close();

    Tested in Firefox and Safari on OS X.

  29. h’m… What’s a problem? You can save whole text as pictures and after that create a PDF file.

  30. JONJONZ:

    I can’t give you a link or a google search string, but I have found that searching for a title plus “rapidshare” usually helps me in finding such downloads on the internet.

  31. @Rick Fletcher:

    Good job on the Javascript, that’s neat.


    Just because we *can* find it online unlawfully doesn’t change anything.
    Of course if someone wanted the book they could find it any number of ways.

  32. i have to say i get a bit tired of this ‘i can’t read it online’ claptrap. just have a look at this comments page. have a look at the front page of boingboing. have a look at slashdot. every website has at least 1000-3000 words on the front page. you don’t like reading off a screen? pshh give me a break.

  33. I read ebooks a lot, but I prefer dead tree stuff.
    If I enjoy a book, I will always buy a copy, and often two or three.
    The extras I put onto
    I have been known to buy two copies of a book, and anything else I can find by that author.
    This alleged effort doesn’t tempt me to read Gaian’s work.

  34. #36 Lok1, I think you’re missing the point. Everyone reads online. But not *novels*. There’s a huge difference in the experience of reading a blog versus reading a novel. Most importantly, most website reading is actually skimming (or scanning, whichever term you prefer), which is markedly different than the way people read novels. High-concentration reading from a computer screen isn’t comfortable.

    There are many other similarly good reasons not to want to read novels online, but they’re all pretty obvious and I wonder if you’re just trying to be contrarian anyway.

  35. @#9
    I don’t think HarperCollins get ebooks. This quote from last November is on their Web site, talking about the iPhone:…
    Er, Victoria … ever heard of the Sony Reader? Kindle? iLiad ..?

    I devour books. I adore ebooks even more because I don’t have to lug them around places. I purchased an ebook reader..I forget which one by now..a few years ago – now rotting away in a box. I looked at and have used for extended periods of time the kindle, sony reader and the bookeen cybook.

    I don’t think any of them compare with my iPhone at all. Because while it may be nice to have a dedicated device for reading books, I read books everywhere and I don’t want to carry around so many devices (my iPhone replaced my PDA, phone and iPod). The iPhone is my ideal device for reading everywhere. It’s a bit on the small side and it’s not the best, but with iphone (needs jailbroken) and a cup of tea on a rainy’s awesome.

    Sure, the infrastructure to get content for the iPhone isn’t as nice as it is for the ebook readers. But it’s entirely possible to make that happen – and I’d expect you don’t need to pay anything additional in terms of service/equipment fees, only for the content as you’d be piggybacking on iPhone capabilities.

    In the past few months I’ve had installed on my phone I have read over a hundred titles from…something I couldn’t have done if I were using something like a kindle just because it doesn’t fit in my pocket or even my purse that well.

  36. Look,I’m getting tired of this “dead tree” stuff. They are not dead, they’re just resting. After I get tired of shelving it,I lovingly macerate and compost it around the roots of its successor – sure I do.

  37. Most importantly, most website reading is actually skimming (or scanning, whichever term you prefer), which is markedly different than the way people read novels.

    I can read blogs all day with no problem. If I try to read a book online, my eyes are bleeding mucus after half an hour (sorry for that visual, but it’s literal.) It’s a completely different use of vision.

  38. I read the whole thing, as provided, for the first time. The load delays were minor. Slightly annoying, but easily accommodated for.

    I started recommending it to friends and family about half way through, and picked up a DTE for my library last night.

  39. I manage a small press called Adventure Books of Seattle. Normally, I would not bring anything up about THAT, but in this case it may be okay.

    At AB, we saw some of these publishers ‘giving away’ certain ‘difficult’ (purposely hard to read or generally tough to deal with) versions of their eBooks. We also thought it was baloney. If you are going to make something available, do it. Or as Eli Wallach said in ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: “if you’re going to shoot…SHOOT, don’t talk.” (laughs) What’s the point of some big publisher making hype about ‘free’ if you have start a training regimen in order to read the thing?

    This is what AB of Seattle did: We put the front and back covers from the print version of the books on the first and last pages of the PDF file. We did NOT make people jump through hoops in order to obtain the books. We just pointed people to the free download link and turned them loose. It’s not OUR bandwidth, anyway. Just the printer’s. No forms, no baloney. Full version.

    One is a Redux edition of ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and the other is a sci-fi novel. I will not put the links here, out of courtesy. You could find them easily enough anyway.

    I have read Cory’s comments from time to time about Creative Commons and making eBooks available free. Two years ago, I was AGAINST both of these things, but now I agree with Cory Doctorow completely.

    The print sales of both books increased after we enabled the easy downloads…and reading the nice messages from time to time is a plus.

  40. @#10 Jeff
    It should be a no brainer. You offer more formats, so there are more people to enjoy your work. People with ebook readers can grab your book, as well as people who want to stick to paper books.
    Offer your customers choice which format they want, and they’ll be able to enjoy it in the way they want best.
    I know I have a number of books I’d rather get digitally. I’ve stopped buying paper books, because my book cases are already full. :)

  41. @Janeylicious #39 — fair enough; I was making the point that HC seem to be ignoring E Ink.

    Do you use If not, check it out.

  42. @32 – Rick Fletcher

    Thanks for that JavaScript, worked like a charm!

    Currently reading and enjoying thanks to you.

  43. @41
    I can read blogs all day with no problem. If I try to read a book online, my eyes are bleeding mucus after half an hour (sorry for that visual, but it’s literal.) It’s a completely different use of vision.
    I agree with you. I spend a LOT of time on the computer coding/on IRC/reading and writing emails, but it is pretty obnoxious to read full books. I suspect some of that might be the unwillingness to take regular breaks while reading, as I normally would do.

    However, I don’t find that to be a problem when reading on eink devices like the Kindle or on the iPhone. I suspect it might have to do with the higher number of pixels per inch on the display..making it sharper.

    @45: Yeah, I think books should be available on the widest number of devices possible. Ignoring the kindle etc. isn’t exactly a wise move, even though the userbase isn’t that large.

    And yes, I have checked out, but battery life is better if I use because I just download and scp over the html files..I’m not using safari nor loading pages over edge/wifi. It also comes in handy when there’s no edge to do anything with..which happens once in a while.

  44. I didn’t have any problems with load times when I began reading at the beginning and scrolled to the next page…one page at a time.

    I did have a problem with load times when I tried to skip ahead to a chapter. I can’t imagine I’d want to read the entire book at one sitting. It appears to load the book from the beginning regardless of which page you have up on the screen at the time.

    As for the detail, it was easy enough to read at the original size. If I clicked the “fit to window” button, it was very difficult to read. Since I’m viewing it on a laptop, though, I wouldn’t use the “fit to window” option which forces it to show me a full page.

  45. Mad Jo, I agree that offering different formats would be nice. What I’m trying to understand is the connection between giving a book away (which does not bite into book sales of any sort), and the idea that publishers are just making money for themselves via ad revenue from the site. I don’t think libraries make money like this. When I see site visit and download numbers from Tor I’d also like to see the ad revenue numbers. Are the writers going to get anything from this give away? Maybe. But then again, maybe not. I have direct experience with give-away marketing and I’ve found that it only works with food.

  46. Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) did a very similar thing (properly) for his book “God’s Debris”. Adams is a pretty cluey guy and made the choice based on the apparent difficulty of marketing the concept in physical production.

    As a result I made a point to buy the sequel “Religion War”.

    The book wouldn’t have sold nearly enough copies in retail to make it worth the effort, but through online distribution found a much wider audience (I know I sent the link to hundreds of people), which in turn no doubt sold many more copies of the sequel.

    I love reading short books in PDF, but couldn’t stand to read a full novel that way. I like to read on the toilet anyway…

  47. What annoys me is the press that HC is getting for offering something for “free”, when that isn’t what they’re doing at all. They’re letting you look at a book for a month at no charge. There is nothing to download, and HC isn’t really giving anything to the public at all.

    It’s an experiment to see if they can drive book sales by offering a crippled version of it online. From my quick experience, the pages were scanned from the paperback rather than the hardcover, making it hard to read. The huge ad on the side is intrusive to the overall experience, and severely limits the viewing pane. No wondering they aren’t charging for this; it’s too annoying and limiting.

    That being said, I will say that the javascript that protects the book is extremely cludgy, and extremely easy to workaround. After examining the code on the site, I was able to throw together a quick program to download all the page images of the book. I already own the paperback and thoroughly enjoyed it, so this was more of an exercise in the “can I do it” department.

  48. Heh…didn’t realize it at the time, but I pretty much just automated the process that #32’s javascript accomplishes. I just used the direct links to the pages, and saved them based on the page number.

  49. Just wanted to put in my voice of support for Baen Book’s method of e-publishing. Unencrypted standard HTML, available online or as a downloadable zip file. (and a few other formats)

    I own about 15 of their ebooks now, and will cheerfully buy more in the future thanks to this approach. By contrast, my desire to read a PDF novel or to have to buy a separate device to read an ebook is imaginary indeed.

    It’s too bad about American Gods, I love that book and deeply respect Neil Gaiman’s work in general (plus he seems like a nice guy).

  50. I suspect some people (myself included, initially) are missing the point. It’s not a download. A download was not offered. The text of ‘American Gods’ has been “made available” for online reading, but Harper Collins haven’t given away a free Neil Gaiman book for people to keep forever – and never said they would. Neil G. was mocked in comment #26 for talking about “the online reading experience”, but that’s precisely what was offered.

    If we misinterpreted the announcements and expected a download, that’s a different matter, and perhaps both Neil G & the publishers could be criticised for not foreseeing & clearly disabusing our expectations. However, I do think all the criticism about Harper-Collins making a mess of e-publishing is misplaced: they haven’t published it in a ‘take-away-and-read-at-your-leisure’ sense, and didn’t claim they would.

    It’s somewhat analogous to a record label making a track from a band’s back-catalogue available for listening online, at a lower resolution than CD-quality and not (intentionally) downloadable: it’s a sample, not a giveaway.

Comments are closed.