The two books motivating this blog are available for free online and can be bought in hard copy. Apparently, they are selling well, which proves that one can make money from providing free books. Following this model (possibly independently developed, we do not know as this model was not patented), Flat World Knowledge
is now starting to offer textbooks. Print copies are less expensive than the "traditional" outlets, and pdfs can be downloaded for free.
The catalog is small so far and concentrated on Economics and Business, but there are some good names. I find it quite interesting that Business books are listed, as I found faculty in business schools generally very skeptical that one can provide a good service at no cost.
As reported by Gizmodo
), Monty Python has multiplied by 230 its Amazon sales after uploading high quality videos extracted from its DVDs to its YouTube channel
. Another example of making material freely available increasing sales.
I've posted before
on the phenomenon of publishers offering free, online versions of works in addition to printed versions. In A Short History of Mises Institute Publishing
(available in audio too), Jeff Tucker provides an absolutely fascinating, riveting account of the monumental work for liberty and sound economics done by the Mises Institute. They have become a publishing phenomenon: putting literally thousands of books, speeches and articles free online--7 terabytes so far, and many more added daily! As Tucker notes:
With 300 books in our catalog, the overwhelming majority of which have been internally published; with an online store that is second to none in the world of pro-liberty publishing;with a website delivering nearly 7 terabytes of data out the door every month to one million unique visitors per month; with nearly the entire corpus of Mises, Rothbard, Hazlitt, Röpke, Hayek, Hutt, Spadaro, Chodorov, Nock, Garrett, Ron Paul, John T. Flynn, Böhm-Bawerk, Menger, Bastiat, Hahn, Say, and Wicksell, among many others, in print and available for free download or purchase in hardcopy; with the complete run of seven journals online, many of which would have otherwise sunk without a trace; and with 30,000 rare books in this physical library begging to be scanned; it is fair to say that the Mises Institute has achieved a level of productivity and effectiveness that none of us imagined possible in the past.
By the way, people wonder what 7 terabytes means. To get an idea of how much that is, this is nearly equivalent to the entire printed collection of the Library of Congress. Another measure: it is 335,000 trees made into paper and printed. This is a volume of information in the material world that would have been inconceivable even a decade ago.
This is why I consider Lew Rockwell and the Mises Institute (and all its wonderful, enthusiastic, sincere, liberty-loving people, including Jeff Tucker) to be, without exaggeration, the most important force for liberty in the world today.