- Less copies will be sold, since readers can get it free online
Early-readers were posting spoilers from the book
Let's deal with these in reverse, shall we? Spoilers happen every time any piece of highly-anticipated media is released early. Advanced copies are a normal part of the distribution process. Spoilers are easy to avoid -- don't read anything or listen to things that are likely to spoil. It's not 100% fool-proof (I'm guilty of one of the larger ones, but it was also funny), but it should keep almost everyone who doesn't want to be spoiled away from the offending content.
And to the first, that's a crock. Unfortunately, the debunkers are also off the mark. I have a lot of respect for most of what future-thinker Seth Godin has to say, but when he poo-pooed the
Books are souvenirs. No one is going to read Potter online, even if it's free. Holding and owning the book, remembering when and how you got it... that's what you're paying for. Books are great at holding memories. They're lousy at keeping secrets.... he blew it. I agree that books are souvenirs and that holding a book in your hands is a great feeling. But to say that no one would read HP online, even if it is free? Seth, wake up. People *are* reading things online. And quite often, when they read things online, they then go out and buy those things in the store.
Strange as it may sound, there are folks who aren't reading the HP series. I'm one of them and I know countless others. I'm on the Cory Doctorow side of the fence on this issue. I know that putting something like HP out as a free digital download -- by the publisher or by enterprising readers -- will actually increase the overall sale of the hard copy by allowing folks who didn't care to give it a shot. Yeah, it's heretical. Yeah, it flies in the face of conventional wisdom. But I remain convinced that the group of folks who want to read it free were not going to buy the book anyhow. And more importantly, exposure to folks who weren't planning on buying the book can actually cause some of those to make the purchase -- assuming the material is good. And I'll bet you that last group will back up and grab the previous six books as well.
Let the fruit fly. 'Tis a brave new world when content wants to be freed.