Science fiction writer John Scalzi, whose Old Man’s War is one of this year’s finalists for the Hugo prize for best novel, wants to get his book in front of as many voters as possible. So he’s giving it away online to anyone eligible to cast a ballot—along with electronic copies of another shortlisted novel, Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin. The RTF files became available after Tor, the publisher of both Scalzi and Wilson, agreed to revert some of its electronic rights. “There is no DRM applied to the text files,” Scalzi adds, apart from a polite request that recipients don’t pass their copies around. “The authors prefer to trust the voters.”
BoingBloing blogger Cory Doctorow isn’t sure they’ve gone far enough. He points out that another of the finalists, Accelerando by Charlie Stross, has been available for free download thanks to a Creative Commons license for months. “Recommendations from trusted friends are the best sales-tool an author has,” Doctorow observes. “So it follows that the more hands these books find their way into, the higher the likelihood that they’ll get forwarded to a Hugo voter.” Not only that, he’s convinced that giving away books online actually increases hardcopy sales. (By the way, his novelette “I, Robot,” nominated in the “best novelette” category, is already online, published in The Infinite Matrix webzine.)
UPDATE: Shortly after this report was published, Stross agreed to let Scalzi include Acclerando in the electronic packet.