Apple released its new operating system update, Lion, via the Apple Store this morning, which makes this an exciting day for a certain swath of geeks. How exciting? Well, Ars Technica has just published John Siracusa’s 27,000-word review of the new OS, covering everything from iOS-inspired interface changes to continuous document saving to how background processes are handled. It’s one of the most comprehensive third-party overviews you’ll find, and it’s available for free in a 19-screen article on Ars’ website.

But what’s interesting is the website also offers it as a $5 ebook on, or you can pay a $50 annual membership fee and get the ability to download any Ars article in multiple ebook formats.

I think it’s a smart repackaging of content that’s free but nevertheless extremely high-value (Siracusa’s reviews are so beloved that readers make silly fan videos in anticipation of them), in a way that hopefully generates a little non-advertising revenue, while also driving membership. It’s the second ebook of original reporting that Ars Technica has published, after last spring’s ebook about the Anonymous hacking group.

One other convenient benefit of providing an ebook version of a hugely popular current event is accessibility. Ars is getting hammered right now by visitors (the site has been unavailable to me twice in the past 20 minutes), so the ebook version also provides an easy way to read this article without waiting for a chance to click through the website pages. (Here’s the direct link to Amazon if the links above don’t work for you.)


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