‘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.