[By Nic Lindh on Friday, 05 December 2003]
A Hymn Before Battle is the first novel I’ve read entirely on a Palm Pilot, thanks to the foresight and hipness of Baen Books. A Hymn Before Battle is part of the Aldenata ISO–a compilation of 20 Baen books given away [completely for free](http://www.baen.com/press.htm# ALL%20HELL%20IS%20BREAKING%20OUT). As a reader who has already put quite a bit of lucre in Baen’s coffers, I couldn’t applaud this move more. In this age of media companies attempting more and more draconian measures to protect their profits, it’s so nice to see a company trust its customers.
Since military SF and fantasy as genres lend themselves to book series, it adds a lot of value to me as a customer to get the first book in a series for free to sample it. Which, when you think about it, is the clichéd drug dealer strategy for obtaining customers. The first one’s free.
Baen doesn’t employ any kind of harebrained digital resource management (DRM) schemes. You can do whatever you want with the material on the Aldenata ISO, except sell it. Very cool.
To my surprise, reading a novel on the Palm Pilot actually worked out really well. The small screen size really doesn’t encumber the experience very much, and it’s infinitely handier to pack a bunch of novels on the Palm than to carry them in physical form.
As the father of an 18-month-old, the Palm format actually rocks. I can bring the Palm with me to various rooms as my offspring goes through her peregrinations, then take it with me for a quick hit of prose when standing in line. Couldn’t I do the same with a paperback? Sure. But the Palm has one killer feature the paperback lacks: Backlighting. Dimly lit rooms are no longer an impediment. Behold! I make fire!
UPDATE: For those too lazy to google, the Baen Free Library is found here.