Publisher of Computer Books Offers 22 Titles as Free Downloads
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Titles Show How to Use Popular Applications With Step-by-Step Illustrations

Computer book publisher Visibooks is offering all 22 titles in it's In Pictures series free to the public, as downloadable PDF files. Unlike most electronic books sold online, the downloadable In Pictures e-books aren't restricted by a digital rights management system. In fact, In Pictures encourages those who download the e-books to freely to copy and share them. Users can also print out a hard copy of the e-book to keep on their desk as a reference or to make notes in the margins of the pages. The books' Creative Commons license only prohibits readers from selling or changing them without permission.

The In Pictures e-books feature step-by-step screen shots that illustrate how to use some of today's most popular office software, such as PowerPoint, Word, operating systems like Windows XP and Mac OS X, and even open source products like OpenOffice and Linspire Five-0 (Linux).

The Adobe Acrobat reader, version 5 or newer is required to open the files.

"We could have spent a hundred thousand dollars on advertising that most people would ignore," said In Pictures creator Chris Charuhas in a press release announcing the availability of the e-books. "But instead we decided to give away a hundred thousand dollars worth of books. When people try them, they like them, then they spread the word."

The company reports that since the they began this offer in early March 2006, over 20,000 people have visited its Web site to download free books. In Pictures will provide all the titles for free until August 1, 2006. After that, the company will offer a "free book of the month" for download. In addition to providing free downloads, the company sells both electronic and printed books. Print-quality electronic book files are $3.95, while spiral-bound copies are $14.95 each. (While the graphics in the free download versions are lower resolution, they were perfectly legible in test prints we made.)

Frederick, MD-based Visibook publishes two lines of illustration-based computer books: In Pictures how-to books for individuals, and Visibooks textbooks for classroom use.

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