What a Novel Idea: Giving Away the Man Booker Shortlist Titles for Free
The Man Booker Prize organization is in negotiations with publishers to make the six shortlisted titles available on the internet for FREE. Jonathan Taylor, chairman of The Booker Prize Foundation, said that the details need to be hammered out but the intent is to digitize each book and make them available for anyone in the world to download and to read.
- Nicola Barker (Darkmans)
- Anne Enright (The Gathering) – Winner
- Mohsin Hamid (The Reluctant Fundamentalist)
- Lloyd Jones (Mister Pip)
- Ian McEwan (On Chesil Beach)
- Indra Sinha (Animal's People)
The publisher of Anne Enright’s winning novel would prefer a partial reproduction rather than full, but from the sounds of the article, the Booker Foundation is pretty confident in its deal making ability. It makes sense because the article suggests that the free content might seed paid content, much as Cory Doctorow, a science fiction author argues.
Nielson Bookscan numbers of Anne Enright’s novel show that only “3,306 copies have been sold in hardback, with a further 381 in paperback. Enright's publisher said that the actual figure was 35,000, including sales in Europe.”
Sadly, it appears that the Times was incorrect. According to PublishersLunch:
Times Story on Electronic Bookers Was Wrong
The Times story suggesting that all of the books shortlisted for the Booker Prize might be offered online for free (after the prize has been awarded) smelled suspicious. A spokesperson for the British Council says their negotiations are actually focused on creating “an online collection of contemporary British literature including the Man Booker Prize winners in the form of e-books, which can be purchased.” A test program is under discussion for 2008, and the Bookseller says it’s “aimed at audiences in India, China and Africa.”