John Scalzi is organising an ebook Hugo packet again, and this year’s collection is looking very good indeed. The deal here is that if you are a voting member of Worldcon (the annual world convention for science fiction and fantasy fandom), you can sign up to receive a free package of electronic versions of a lot of the books and short stories on the Hugo short list, the better that you may read them and then vote for them in the Hugos.
The bad news is that you have to be a voting member of Worldcon, and that costs money — at minimum you need to buy a supporting membership. The good news is that the packet would cost you rather more than the minimum $50 membership to go and buy commercially, so if these are books you’d like to read, this is a very good deal even if you’re not otherwise interested in Worldcon.
What do the authors and publishers get out of this, given that they’re donating the texts and get no direct financial return? Publicity. It’s a way to get their award shortlisted material in front of the people who can vote for that award. That’s good in a number of ways, not least the concept of “the first hit is free”.
More details at Scalzi’s blog: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2009/04/02/hugo-voter-packet-update/