I like this experimental book publishing model. Print 200 copies of a book in hard cover. Sell with “free” shipping. Then make the rest of the copies free as a downloadable PDF. I missed getting one of the limited edition 200 ($9, postage paid), since they sold out in 8 hours. It really doesn’t matter what’s in the book. The model is brilliant, if you have an audience. The scarce limited edition of the physical subsidizes the distribution of the unlimited free intangible.
Here is what their website says:
We’ll post a PDF online, free for everyone—but only after we sell this run of 200 real, physical objects. So think of it this way: You’re not just buying a thought-provoking, take-it-to-the-coffee-shop book for yourself. You’re buying access for everybody. You’re a patron of the new liberal arts!
As it happens, the PDF reveals that the content is pretty thin. But it did not have to be. Their premise is great (the new literacies), and their biz model innovative. We can hope they try again. I am impressed enough with the experiment to use this model on my next self-published book.