My latest Guardian column, "Why free ebooks should be part of the plot for writers," talks about how free ebook releases benefit well-known and obscure writers alike.
Releasing a book as a free download isn't newsworthy in and of itself. It was, once upon a time, especially when that book had the backing of a major publisher. Publishers are often characterised as being conservative about the net, so it was surprising when it happened. These days, many writers have convinced their publishers to dip their toes in the water on this, and it's simply not notable when it happens again.
Which is not to say that free downloads have no role when it comes to promotion, publicity and marketing. Their main effect is to magnify any good feeling your book has generated, by making it simple for people who love the book to get it under the nose of their social circle.
For most of a decade, government negotiators from around the Pacific Rim have met in utmost secrecy to negotiate a “trade deal” that was kept secret from legislatures, though executives from the world’s biggest corporations were allowed in the room and even got to draft parts of the treaty.
In a new episode of the BBC’s Panorama, Edward Snowden describes the secret mobile phone malware developed by GCHQ and the NSA, which has the power to listen in through your phone’s mic and follow you around, even when your phone is switched off.
In 1948, the Institute of Applied Science commissioned an unknown illustrator to depict a fistful of squirming, terrified criminals caught in an authoritative fist, under the headline “CAUGHT BY THEIR FINGERTIPS” — they were advertising a home Criminal Investigation and Identification course.
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