B&N promotion: free public domain ebooks

Barnes & Noble are running several promotions for the upcoming 4th of July holiday. I wanted to bring your attention to this one because I find it offensive.

From now until Monday night, B&N are generously giving away ebooks that don't belong to anyone. These ebooks are public domain in the US, which means that anyone can download, upload, edit, or do WTH you want with them (even charge money for them).

If this were a normal promotion I would simply ignore it. B&N are giving away something which is free the rest of the year. It's laughable, but mostly pathetic.  But, they chose to tie it in with Independence Day, which means that B&N are celebrating this holiday by demonstrating a marked ignorance of US laws and custom.


About Nate Hoffelder (11463 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

2 Comments on B&N promotion: free public domain ebooks

  1. B&N is aware these books are public domain. That’s why they are able to print hardcover editions and sell them (reasonably) affordably in stores as well. There are “authors” on Amazon selling Kindle versions of public domain books as well. The very fact that they ARE aware of US copyright laws is WHY they are doing this, not so much ignorance there-of.

    Could you go to Google or Gutenberg and download them for free? Sure. Could my grandmother? No. There’s value (for some).

    • Nate the great // 1 July, 2010 at 11:52 am // Reply

      Actually, Scott, I can go to the Kindle Store and download them for free. Feedbooks or ManyBooks are other good options. And yes, if a grandmother can navigate the Nook Store then she can handle Feedbooks (it has a much better UI).

      I didn’t even touch on the fact that these ebooks are DRMed and sold under a license. Basically B&N are telling you what you can and can’t do with something that belongs to no one. And you’re right, they are aware of copyright law, which makes what they’re doing with pd ebooks that much more offensive.

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