HarperCollins Announces Handful of Books Available Free Online

Timed with the first day of the 2008 O’Reilly TOC Conference, HarperCollins has announced that it will be offering free electronic versions of several titles for a limited time on their website. From today’s New York Times story:

Brian Murray, president of HarperCollins, said that the free electronic editions would be available only for one month, and readers would not be able to download them to laptops or to an electronic reader like Kindle from Amazon.com. The print function will also be disabled, but readers will be able to link to retailers like Amazon.com to buy copies of the books.

Brian was one of our keynote speakers at last year’s TOC Conference, where he talked about their efforts to build a digital distribution infrastructure (video below and available here):

As part of their digital strategy, Harper has also acquired a stake in LibreDigital, and while some may balk at those DRM restrictions included with the free titles ("Free" is a hot topic lately), this is definitely an important step for publishers to watch as they rethink their own digital initiatives.

Stay tuned for more announcements coming out of the TOC Conference.