I recently got an e-mail message from the PR team at HarperCollins (HC) for Tom Breitling's book Double or Nothing. Although I'm not interested enough in the topic to read the book I have to admit the message got my attention. Why? HC is offering access to the entire book for free on their website till April 14th. So if you really think you can read a 256-page book via HC's Browse Inside service, go for it! Details are on Tom's site and here's the link to HC's Browse Inside access for the book.
The reality is very few people are going to read the entire book online even when the price is zero. Rather, what HC is doing is leveraging their Browse Inside service to see how much of a sales bump they can create by providing full access for a limited period of time. As a fellow publisher, I'm intrigued by the experiment. And thanks to the magic of Bookscan data, I can keep an eye on the sales trends during and after the free access period. My gut tells me they could leave the full access in place indefinitely and it would only help sell more copies in the long run... Regardless, I love it that a major trade publisher like HC is experimenting like this with free access to e-content.