All computer how-to books in the In Pictures series are being provided free to the public, as downloadable files.
Anyone who visits In Pictures' website at www.inpics.net/ can download any and all of its 22 different books for free, in Adobe PDF format. In the month since the site was launched, more than 20,000 people have visited it to download free books.
"We could have spent a hundred thousand dollars on advertising that most people would ignore," said In Pictures creator Chris Charuhas. "But instead we decided to give away a hundred thousand dollars worth of books. When people try them, they like them, then they spread the word."
Unlike most electronic books sold online, the downloadable In Pictures books aren't restricted by a digital rights management system. In fact, they're free to copy and share, something that In Pictures encourages. The books' Creative Commons license only prohibits readers from selling or changing them without permission.
In Pictures will provide its books free until Aug. 1, 2006. After that, it will offer a "free book of the month" for download. In addition to providing free downloads, the company sells both electronic and printed books. Print-quality electronic book files are $3.95, while spiral-bound copies are $14.95 each.
In Pictures books are published by Visibooks Llc. based in Frederick, Maryland. The company publishes two brands of illustration-based computer books: In Pictures how-to books for individuals, and Visibooks textbooks for classroom use.