Simon & Schuster gives away e-Books with

E-books are here to stay, but there's been a shift to reading on phones over e-readers. According to a recent Nielsen study, 54% of polling participants said they chose to read at least part of a book on their smartphone, up from 24% in 2012. In a bid to capitalize on the mobile reading movement, publishers now develop book jackets, font size and promotional materials with the expectation that they will be primarily viewed on a phone. Free multimedia
Jester reading a book

Jester reading a book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

add-ons like games, recipes, chapter excerpts and even whole books are intended to entice readers to make future purchases. Whether one can actually engage in deep, meaningful reading on a smartphone is hotly contested.

Publishers are even partnering with transportation and hospitality companies to court new customers. Penguin Random House offers free e-book excerpts on Amtrak Acela trains, and HarperCollins gives away books on select JetBlue flights. The industry leader (for the moment) appears to be Simon & Schuster, who is embracing mobile reading as the wave of the future. In May, the publisher used the Foli mobile app to give away copies of David McCullough's The Wright Brothers at fifty U.S. airports. Now they have joined up with the hotel booking site to reach an even larger potential consumer base. If customers use the site to book at least a two-night stay at participating hotels, Simon & Schuster will provide a free e-book. The seven choices will rotate regularly, and the inaugural titles include Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King; The Ascendant by Drew Chapman; The White Queen by Philippa Gregory; Crazy Love You by Lisa Unger; I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes; You by Caroline Kepnes, and The Glass Rainbow by James Lee Burke.  These e-books are available through Glose, a social reading platform.

English: Taylor Swift performing live on Speak...

English: Taylor Swift performing live on Speak Now tour in July 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While the publisher will undoubtedly reach new readers, one wonders what this means for the authors, who have been increasingly embroiled in disputes with their publishers over decreasing royalty rates and distribution rights. This situation sounds similar to when Apple  rolled out a new streaming music service and planned to give away music without paying royalties. Happily for musicians, their savior was Taylor Swift, and the company changed course. Who will rally for writers?