Yesterday, we alerted you to the free audio and text versions of Lawrence’s Lessig’s book, Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity. Today, we’re pointing you to a larger collection of high-quality books (45 in total) that you can download legally thanks to Lessig’s Creative Commons. The trove includes a good mix of genres. In fiction, you’ll find three works by sci-fi writer and blogger Cory Doctorow — Eastern Standard Tribe, Someone Comes To Town, Someone Leaves Town and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. Under non-fiction, you can freely access Gamer Theory by McKenzie Wark (Harvard University Press), Democratizing Innovation by Eric von Hippel (MIT Press), Yochai Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks (Yale University Press), and Dan Gilmor’s We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, For the People. Finally, on the “how-to” side of things, you’ll stumble upon titles along the lines of 55 Ways to Have Fun With Google. Not a bad collection of works, and certainly worth the price.
Most of these books are issued in traditional print ($$$) and free download versions, which raises the obvious question: does this make any business sense for publishers, let alone authors? Lawrence Lessig, who initiated the concept, asserts that it does, noting that more readers who access the free download copy will ultimately buy the print version than those who don’t. Or, put more simply: the converts will exceed cannibals, which results in a win-win-win-win situation. The readers win one way or another; the authors and publishers win; society wins; and so does the free flow of information. What more can you want?