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Wealth of NetworksA prominent Yale law professor named Yochai Benkler has put his new book online for free. Some 15,000-20,000 readers have downloaded The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. You can obtain your own copy in either HTML or PDF. Help out Prof. Benkler and offer your feedback.

You can also buy a hardback from Amazon. Congratulations to Prof. Benkler, and may he benefit from The Cory Doctorow Effect–and see the online edition actually increase sales! E-books are still at the point where many readers would prefer to read the contents the old-fashioned way, once they’ve digested enough of a sample.

The Benkler example is just one of several in Digital Publishing Is Scrambling the Industry’s Rules, Motoko Rich’s article in today’s New York Times–which, yes, explores the annotations issue, among others. Excerpt:

When Mark Z. Danielewski’s second novel, “Only Revolutions,” is published in September, it will include hundreds of margin notes listing moments in history suggested online by fans of his work. Nearly 60 of his contributors have already received galleys of the experimental book, which they’re commenting about in a private forum at Mr. Danielewski’s Web site, www.onlyrevolutions.com.

Yochai Benkler, a Yale University law professor and author of the new book “The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom” (Yale University Press), has gone even farther: his entire book is available–free–as a download from his Web site. Between 15,000 and 20,000 people have accessed the book electronically, with some of them adding comments and links to the online version.

Mr. Benkler said he saw the project as “simply an experiment of how books might be in the future.” That is one of the hottest debates in the book world right now, as publishers, editors and writers grapple with the Web’s ability to connect readers and writers more quickly and intimately, new technologies that make it easier to search books electronically and the advent of digital devices that promise to do for books what the iPod has done for music: making them easily downloadable and completely portable.

Related: Links in TechMeme.

 
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