You may very well be thinking to yourself, "Hey, isn't a bit strange that a company that sells books is giving them away?" Well, maybe, but the rapidly-emerging model for those who sell media is that it's helpful to give consumers plenty of latitude to check out the product.
Sure, you can get a free electronic version of the book. But it's not like we're the Jetsons or anything...laptops and terminal computers are not so ubiquitous that we all have them in our kitchens. People are still buying books. And what better way to get someone to buy your product than to let them take it for a spin. It works for cars!
And, if you think about it, it works for music, a good equivalent for books.
For the sake of argument, let's all just forget about the whole Napster episode. That was more about the industry not having a business plan that could deal with electronic media and a groundswell backlash against what consumers saw as greedy music companies.
Have you ever had a friend burn you a CD of a band that he or she liked? And you listened to it and probably looked in to the band a bit more. Chances are, you ended up buying the next album or went back and bought some of the old ones. Maybe you even went to a concert. Perhaps you convinced a friend to come along and, after they enjoyed the show, you burned them a CD. And on and on...
Anyone who is looking at selling media these days will tell you that the time is gone when you can zealously control the product once it's out of your hands. It will be those who best use these networks who will have the greatest success.