In a counterintuitive move, HarperCollins will attempt to sell more books by giving books away. Starting today, a handful of complete books will be available free on the publisher's website. The company compares the new policy to allowing prospective readers to flip through as they might in a store. “It’s like taking the shrink wrap off,” said CEO Jan Friedman.
The free texts aren’t printable and can’t be downloaded to laptops or Kindles. But even with those precautions, the program is under close scrutiny. “We will know very soon if we sense any kind of cannibalization,” said Friedman. So far, only a handful of books are up, including a novel by Paulo Coehlo, who’s often pointed readers to pirated copies of his work.