Picked this up this morning whilst waiting for coffee - it's a book sample: the opening chapter of The Battle for Big School, distributed via postcard racks.
Now it hasn't made me want to buy the book [I don't think I'm the target audience - according to the blurb it's a "fab, girlie read"] but it's still a good idea.
If I was a publisher, I'd have the first chapter of every book I sold available for download.
In fact, I think I'm with Cory Doctorow on this - I'd probably have the entire book available for download, for free, like he does here.
Books are currently in an extremely fortuitous position with reference to the internet, which is disrupting other information based businesses like music and that, because although it's the content that we want, it's the combination of content and form that makes books what they are.
So giving the content away for free makes sense - as Cory points out e-books are "social objects":
It wants to be copied from friend to friend, beamed from a Palm device, pasted into a mailing list. It begs to be converted to witty signatures at the bottom of e-mails.
Which gives you massive reach for no cost. And when it hits the right people, the audience that it's right for, they will go and buy it because reading a book doesn't work on screen.
At least not until we get e-paper sorted out.
Then we'll see, Cory, then we'll see.