Mike at Techdirt points to some half-hearted efforts at free e-books. The books will only be available for a limited time, and they cannot be printed. It is all posturing by the book publishers who still believe that completely free pdfs will cannibalize physical book sales when authors like Cory Doctorow and Lawrence Lessig have proved otherwise.
The new definition of “free” is DRM-free as well as free-as-in-beer. The restrictions on printing and the books’ availability for a limited time are just other forms of DRM.
It is true that it is cheaper to buy books than it is to print them. Against Intellectual Monopoly by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine is a free to download/print/read book I was looking into printing at Kinkos, but it is going to cost $43 when the book will probably cost $25 in stores and $20 from Amazon when it comes out (thanks to someone who linked to it in the comments on Techdirt.com from a post a couple of months ago).
Also newly available to to freely download/print/read is The Medici Effect by Frans Johansson.
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