While I'm no fan of the Kindle for a variety of reasons (DRM, lack of real ownership of the books, etc.), it has to be admitted that the device has made ebooks a lot more mainstream than before. And, along with ebooks comes the realization to some publishers that it's now possible to give away some ebooks for free, and use them to promote other books
(thanks to William C Bonner for sending this in). What the publishers are discovering is that they can offer up older books that have lost much of their commercial value for free, and it helps drive sales of newer books by the same author. In some cases, they give away the first in a series of books, which has proven to be quite effective. What the publishers are really realizing is that thanks to digital distribution, they can suddenly use the "free" cost
of the book to hook people and get them to purchase later books in a series. This is hardly a new idea, of course, but it's great to see more book publishers figuring it out.