Update, April 18: Free PDF from NBC News. PDFs are also online from CNN, the U.S. Justice Department and elsewhere.
In a desperate bid for relevance, Barnes & Noble will be offering a free ebook download of the redacted release of the Mueller Report investigating Russian interference in the Trump Presidential campaign. The free ebook will be available on Friday, April 19, the day after the Mueller Report is officially released to the public, and can be preordered through the Barnes & Noble web site or Nook ereader app.
Sought-after government documents like the Mueller Report have long represented a kind of windfall for publishers. The material is already created, and like any government publication it is in the public domain. Hence, anyone who wants to can repackage it and throw it up for sale, and take advantage of the bestseller-like demand while not having to pay anything to an author. And, given how much publishers like free money, you can be sure nearly everyone will.
There are a number of versions of the report available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and various other book and ebook stores even now, in ebook and print formats. A couple of them, priced at $7.99 each, offer additional commentary from Washington Post writers or Alan Dershowitz to justify the price. (These shouldn’t be confused with this satirical book also entitled The Mueller Report, with a big “Fake News” stamp on the cover.) Others are listed for just a couple bucks and are probably just other public-domain repackagings like, presumably, Barnes & Noble’s itself. The ebook formats will probably be available within a day or so of the document’s initial release; I imagine print versions could take a little longer.
In any case, “free” is one of the best possible ebook deals on this document, assuming you don’t mind using the Nook Reader. None of the other ebook stores seem to be offering a free ebook version (though Amazon does list a free Audible audiobook), and it’s probably a smart move on B&N’s part—it draws more people to their platform, which you have to use to read their version. But will very many of these people stick around and buy other Nook ebooks?
And that being said, you don’t have to buy the Nook version to read it for free. If you don’t mind reading it in the raw PDF, the official government-released version will also be free from the U.S. Government Publishing Office. (I’ll update this post when the link is available.) Also, CNN.com has said it will post the entire report for free with complete coverage, and presumably every other major news site will do the same. The document is free, after all. So perhaps Barnes & Noble won’t draw all that many people after all.
I was thinking that this had to be satire. But I just checked on Amazon and by golly, the Mueller Report is there, available for pre-order.
Not so crazy, really. There’s a long tradition of zero-day current-event books. A lot of publishers did that with the O.J. trial, for example. And in this case, it’s not like they even need to do anything beyond reformatting the stuff.
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Yes, I remember that happening with the O.J. trial. But I was unaware that book publishers could publish and sell government documents. I don’t know where I’ve been!
Anything produced by the government is automatically in the public domain, so it’s really no different from all those editions of Project Gutenberg books being sold for a few bucks all over Amazon.
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Thanks for the information!