Random House To Start Selling By The Chapter; HarperCollins To Post Free Books Online

This is not the first time both book publishing heavyweights have pushed online sampling…old wine in a new bottle, if you ask me.

Random House: This experiment is more interesting of the two: Random House, owned by Bertelsmann, will start selling individual chapters of a popular book, to figure out if readers are interested in such unbundling. It will sell the six chapters and epilogue of “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” for $2.99 each. The chapters are posted here. Of course, the book is such that separate chapters can stand by themselves…it probably works more in non-fiction than fiction (story) book.

HarperCollins: The News Corp-owned book publisher will begin offering free e-editions of some of its books on its site, including a novel by Paulo Coelho, among others. HarperCollins also plans to upload a different title by Coelho each month for the rest of the year. Again, the idea is sampling, but the company is crippling the service from the start: these editions would be available only for one month, and readers would not be able to download them to laptops or to an electronic reader like Kindle. The print function will also be disabled, but readers will be able to link to retailers like Amazon.com (NSDQ: AMZN) to buy copies of the books.

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