Let me start with a sad realization this morning. I think I’m losing my ability to read on the move. I lost my ability to read in the car a while ago and that was a sad, crushing blow, but this morning I was reading GO GO GIRLS OF THE APOCOLYPSE on the bus to work this morning and started getting sick. This has happened a few times before but I’ve been trying to ignore the inevitable.

Now onto the meat of today’s comments. I called Bleak House Books the other night to take care of the shipping details for their generous holiday offer and wouldn’t you know I got publisher Ben LeRoy on the phone. You’ve got to love a publishing house where even the publisher gets in on the grunt work. We chatted for a while about the promotion and how we thought it was working. I think it’s a great idea and told him so. We’ve seen occasional bursts of experimentation on this front with individual authors, particularly in the science fiction/fantasy field, and it almost always works out well. But this is the first time I can recall seeing something like this from a publisher.

With the dwindling print news base, and the sketchy success rates of print advertising in general, I think free books are the best advertising available for the money. And I don’t buy the argument that it results in lost sales. For the most part, if somebody takes part in a free book promotion they are going to get something they wouldn’t have bought otherwise.

Case in point, my Bleak House purchase. I’ve already got Anthony Neil Smith’s YELLOW MEDICINE in paperback, but I took this opportunity to get one of the fine hardcover editions available. That wasn’t a lost sale because I wasn’t going to buy the hardcover anyway. This is another inventive scheme of Bleak House’s that I think should be standard practice. They release a limited number of hardcover editions of a book to get the review attention, library attention, and collector attention, and AT THE SAME TIME they release a less expensive trade paperback that the everyday book buyer can afford. Genius.

So I’m asking everyone who reads this today to do a couple of things for me. First, spread the word about Bleak House. Not just this special offer, but word about the house itself. They do great work and are great people. But also, if you take advantage of their holiday special, maybe give back a little and buy a book at full price too. It’s Christmas and let’s be honest, if you’re reading this blog you could probably use the karma.