While book publisher HarperCollins has done some odd things in trying to adjust to the internet age, at least it's willing to experiment with new ideas. While the company was accused last year of trying to prevent the resale of pre-release review books by numbering them and keeping track of who had which books, it also surprised a lot of people by deciding to scan all of its own books, telling Google to leave them alone for its own scanning project. While it seemed a little odd that HarperCollins would spend so much of its own money to do what Google was willing to do for it, perhaps part of the explanation comes from the company's willingness to experiment with different business models on its own. The latest, as pointed out by MIT's Advertising Lab is an experiment where HarperCollins will put the entire contents of a book online for free -- but with ads, along with an Amazon affiliate link for those who want to buy the hardcopy. It's definitely an interesting experiment, though it's tough to read too much into a single offering -- especially since much of the traffic to the book will be generated by attention to this experiment, rather than the content itself. It appears to have some good things (HTML instead of annoying PDF) and some bad (you have to navigate a page at a time and some of the other navigation is weak). Still, it's good to see this experiment happening, especially coming from a large publisher.
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