‘How to Read a Book for Free on Amazon’

That is the headline of Rafe Furst‘s blog post here, and that is the subject of his post as well. It is a very entertaining read (hardly surprising, coming from Rafe), especially as he leads up to describing the holy grail of Amazon free grazing: the Minimal Amazon Covering Set, about which Rafe has also set up a Wikipedia page. [ED.: See the comment below re: the removal of the Wikipedia page soon after this post was published.] Here is his description of the enterprise:

A set of keywords that lets you read an entire book for free on Amazon is a covering set (CS). If the number of keywords in a CS is less than or equal to that of all other CSs for the same book, then it is a Minimal Amazon Covering Set (MACS). There may be more than one MACS for any given book. (And yes, someone who is highly skilled at discovering these could be considered a “MACS book pro”).

He also addresses Amazon.com directly, asking just the right question:

Before you look to close this loophole, first check to see [if] your sales numbers are positively or negatively affected. Personally, I find it tedious and not that satisfying to read a book electronically and end up buying the book if I’m at all interested.

I am not convinced that Amazon would even consider this a “loophole,” though I am guessing that publishers might. But maybe I am too skeptical. Remember, I am the guy who wondered whether, if public libraries didn’t already exist, you could ever start one today.

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  1. Doug says:

    Just search for ‘page 7′ followed by ‘page 8′, etc.
    Better yet, buy the book.

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  2. joe says:

    Problem is, after x number of page views, you get locked out. Anyone find a way around this? It doesn’t work. I’ve tried on a couple of books…

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  3. Phx says:

    Looks like Wikipedia took down his page

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  4. Chewxy says:

    Wikipedia entry deleted

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  5. andrewB says:

    How to Read a Book for Free: Get Library Card.

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  6. Pedantic Prig says:

    Is it merely coincidental that MACS is SCAM spelled backwards?

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  7. Will says:

    Amazon.com would identify you based on your IP address. So if you’re blocked after a certain number of views you have to change your IP address by 1)on dial-up disconnect and reconnect; 2) on a laptop you can hit another wifi hotspot.

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  8. Charles says:

    I’m sure you can mask your IP address via certain web pages. I’m not an expert on this matter in any sense, but I do recall that being a safety precaution for paranoid people.

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