The Baen Free Library is a digital library of the science fiction and fantasy publishing house Baen Books where (as of December 2008) 112 full books can be downloaded free in a number of formats, without copy protection. It was founded in autumn 1999 by science fiction writer Eric Flint and publisher Jim Baen to determine whether the availability of books free of charge on the Internet encourages or discourages the sale of their paper books.
The Baen Free Library represents an interesting experiment in the field of intellectual property and copyright. It appears that sales of both the books made available free and other books by the same author, even from a different publisher, increase when the electronic version is made available free of charge.
In 2002, Baen also started adding CD-ROMs into some hardcovers of newest titles in successful series. They contain the complete series of novels preceding the printed book (for those books that were the latest in a series), other works by the same author, some works by other authors, and multimedia bonuses. The CD-ROMs have a prominent permissive copyright license which expressly encourages free-of-charge copying and sharing, including over the Internet.
Baen also operates Webscriptions, a subscription-based e-book program.
Current as of 2008-12-30. Click on a column header to sort the table by that column.
Letters to and from Baen's First Librarian
This section lists letters from readers to Baen's "First Librarian", Eric Flint, and responses he made in return about the Free Library and its offerings, but more importantly these discuss the experiences of Baen with offering free titles and further discuss issues in ePublishing in general. Of particular note, are the grateful letters from blind and handicapped individuals, and the wide geographic demographic of the Baen experiment. However, most of the material is historically interesting 'snapshots' of the arguments over intellectual property rights in the early days of the Free Library and development of the Baen Books publishing style of offering titles both by download and in print.
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