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Penguin Launches New Program to Get Early Copies of eBooks to Adoring Fans (AKA Thieving Pirates)

F2R_logo[1]Are you eager to get an early look at your favorite author’s next book? Then I have good news and bad news for you.

Penguin has just announced a new program called First to Read. According to the press release this is an "exciting new program that will grant readers free sneak peeks of some of Penguin’s most anticipated books – months before they are available in stores and online retailers", but what we’re really looking at is Penguin’s latest marketing foray.

They are hoping to harness word-of-mouth advertising to build buzz for  their upcoming titles, only instead of using a service like NetGalley to get review copies into the hands of book bloggers First to Read is targeted at the average booklover.

“First to Read is a program created for all readers, providing exclusive, early access to our upcoming books. We know people love to talk about and recommend the books they’ve read and are reading, and to encourage that, we’ve integrated social sharing throughout the site,” said Suzie Sisoler, Sr. Director of Consumer Engagement.

The program is live now and it includes titles like Hotshot by Julie Garwood, The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, Sister Mother Husband Dog by Delia Ephron, A Disloyal Prof by Pilar Lofos, The Childhood of Jesus by J. M. Coetzee, and many more.

The ebooks are available in unproofed copies and are regrettably encumbered by Adobe DE DRM. Yes, Penguin has launched a program that implicitly assumes that the readers Penguin is trying to sweet talk are all thieving pirates.

And given how easy it is to remove DRM, there’s also the implied assumption that the readers participating in First to Read are too stupid to figure out how to remove the DRM that is stopping them from sharing the ebook.

Smart move, that.

P.S. This would normally be the spot where I would suggest using a less user-hostile form of DRM, say digital watermarks. But I already made that suggestion a few weeks ago in a post about HarperCollins' new digital galley program and I don’t see a need to repeat myself.

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Mathieu P. June 19, 2013 um 3:14 pm

Ain’t that just how Baen has done since… but with some 'social’+?

Mathieu P. June 19, 2013 um 3:18 pm

Hmm, I do not criticize Baen, because I like how they went and did it while others where just doing nothing and are now launching the same thing with little improvement and less freedom for the end user.

Tim Wilhoit June 19, 2013 um 6:52 pm

From the "Download Instructions" page:
"Please note that the Kindle and Kindle Fire do not currently support Adobe Digital Editions."
While it is true that eink Kindles don’t work with ADE, KFs work very well. Is Penguin passing along bad info accidentally "on purpose?" Probably.

Chris Meadows June 19, 2013 um 8:34 pm

Of course, Baen charges $15 for their DRM-free eARCs, while Penguin is offering their DRMed versions free.

And those of us who are desperate to read certain eARCs start pounding on Baen’s door and begging them to take our money days or weeks in advance of when one is expected to come out…

Nate Hoffelder June 19, 2013 um 8:40 pm

Pfft. Penguin usually charges $15 for the ebook on the day it is released. The $15 I regularly pay to Baen to get an early copy is cheap in comparison.

Richard Herley June 20, 2013 um 3:46 am

"Director of Consumer Engagement".



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