This Author Offers "Pay-What-You-Want" E-Books

Everybody loves free stuff. Free books? Even better. Happily, Paulo Coelho is offering "pay-as-you-wish" downloads on two of his books, Manual of the Warrior of Light , which is available in English, and Brida , available in Portuguese. The premise is simple: if you like what you read, then you can buy it. Or not. For whatever price you want. Pretty liberating, right?

The books are available for download on Inkitt. On the download page, Coelho says: "If you read Manual of the Warrior of Light for free and like it, please buy it so we can tell the publishing industry that this reverse method of bookselling does not harm the business."

This isn't the first demonstration of the "pay-what-you-want" ethos. Radiohead famously offered their 2007 album In Rainbows according to the model. And in April, indie publisher Last Gasp Books offered their Humble Underground Book Bundle, in which consumers could pay as little as nothing (and as much as they wanted to shell out) for a haul of art books.

But Coelho is the first mainstream writer to adopt this non-traditional method, which is based purely on trusting the consumers. Could Coelho's bold move incite more high-profile writers to offer their books, essentially, for free?

Eh, maybe. Some critics, like The Guardian 's Anna Baddeley, find the model at inherent odds to popular markets: "Of course, 'pay what’s fair' is preferable to giving away content for nothing, or pirating. But I fail to see how it could be more than a pipedream, especially in Britain, a country not known for its love of haggling or tipping."

Fair enough. But in today's highly transparent world, in which the boundary between creator and consumer (or celebrity and civilian) is regularly dissolved, it's not unthinkable that popular writers could catch on to the model — it makes for good publicity, right?

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