HarperCollins plans to release the complete texts of a small number of books (whose authors are on board with the idea) for a month or so, to test whether this makes sales go up or down. One of the authors is fantasy writer Neil Gaiman (a personal favorite of mine), a pioneer in web-based promotion:
Neil Gaiman, who offers readers free stories on his website and has been running a promotional blog for seven years, is convinced that tasters are "enormously useful". He's running an online vote for readers to determine which of his titles will be given away — a poll currently led by his mythical American fantasy, American Gods.
Random House appears less trusting of this philosophy. They plan to offer only parts of books for a small fee ( $2.99 or £1.50). Customers will be able to download chapters via an e-mail which Random House has done its best to make un-shareable. Not nearly so wholehearted a dive into the "if you post it, they will buy" pool. More like Godiva selling chocolate by the piece.