Baen Books CD-ROMs

Baen Books is one of those few businesses that really understands how cool the Internet is, and how to use that for their own benefit--and ours.

First they put up the Baen Free Library, which contains dozens of full-length novels for download with no restrictions. No DRM. Multiple formates--RTF, .DOC, html, several Palm and PocketPC formats. Just download and read.

Aha, but they're sneaky. You download and read a few books, really get into the story line, and discover that the next 8 books are NOT in the library (Talking to you, David Weber). So you shell out cash. Or worse yet, you go to another author there, get hooked on THEIR books, and end up buying some from both.

In the first year that I started visiting the Baen Free Library, I spent over $250 on books from them that I would not have otherwise, including a few hardbacks (which I almost never buy).

So now what? That custom got them lots of exposure, and according to Eric Flint's column there, increased sales substantially for those participating. They followed this up with another brilliant move: Hardcovers sold with CD-ROMs containing even more books, including those not available on the site. So War of Honor, for example, contained the full e-text of that book--plus the first 300 books in the series. And a number of other books by various Baen authors. Plus, you could copy and distribute the CDs at will, as long as you didn't sell them.

So I had all six currently available on my home DSL-based server. These accounted for at least 4/5 of my bandwidth. Now that I'm hosted somewhere, I was trying to cut things down a bit.

It doesn't work very well. I tried cutting out redundant content between the discs, which would have brought it all down to around 1.1 GB, from 4.7 or somesuch, but my error logs were filling up as each page tried to call graphics that were no longer there, and I was getting seriously annoyed.

So I'm going to think about how best to do this so that it doesn't a) cost me lots of money (though the hosting is pretty cheap), and b) doesn't annoy me greatly. Suggestions are welcome.

In the meantime, you can grab the ISOs the same place I did: Oberon.zlynx.org.

Sorry for the inconvenience.