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Neil Gaiman Book "American Gods" Free Online 88

Posted by kdawson
from the everybody-rtfb dept.
Denial93 writes "Geek favorite author Neil Gaiman has just made his multi-award-winning bestselling novel 'American Gods' available online for free. It's a trial by the publisher, and runs for one month. Gaiman writes in his blog: 'If it works, and people read it, then a) we may be able to put up another book and b) sooner or later they'll simply let us give away the book in electronic form....' It's an excellent book and much deserving of the many prestigious awards it has been getting."
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Neil Gaiman Book "American Gods" Free Online

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  • I've been intending on reading this one for quite some time now, so this will be perfect. I usually read on my lunch break and have worked my way through just about everything I'd wanted to read. This will be my first experience with a whole book in digital format. I lack an E-Reader so I guess this will show me if I really want to get one or not.
    • by TopShelf (92521)
      It looks like what's free is the ability to leaf through the book online through a browser, not download an e-book (although that doesn't cost much, something like $7).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sandbags (964742)
        Yup. If I can't DL it and reat it at my convenience, then it's worthless to me. What am I supposed to do, keep a log of the websites that free books are on, and keep track of what page I've read to? ...and if i can't resize it as I see fit, it;s even more useless.

        i read when I can't surf. If I can't surf, I can't read this. Dumb.
  • by PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) on Friday February 29, 2008 @12:04PM (#22601642) Journal
    Excellent!
    I'm glad to see that publishers are trying this out. Tor has a promotion running, in which they email you non-drm'd books (usually book 1 of a series) every week.

    And, ever since I bought my prs-500, it has been difficult to stay legit - I have a hard time buying a book online for the same (or very similar) price to a real, dead tree paper book. Sure, I could feel good about saving the environment, but why does it cost the same to deliver an electronic book as it does to sell a hard copy? I thought shipping and handling, stocking and middle men markups had something to do with the high price of the written word... *sigh*

    ... and back to the topic at hand, this is an excellent book!
    • hy does it cost the same to deliver an electronic book as it does to sell a hard copy? I thought shipping and handling, stocking and middle men markups had something to do with the high price of the written word.

      "If we can disintermediate effectively, the synergies of offering electronic downloads with rights management that preserves our revenue stream and allow us to leverage the long tail yadda yadda yadda ..."

      Of course, there's nothing to stop the AUTHORS "disintermediating" the publishers ...

    • And, ever since I bought my prs-500, it has been difficult to stay legit - I have a hard time buying a book online for the same (or very similar) price to a real, dead tree paper book.

      You've finished all of Project Gutenberg? Impressive!

      • by Jaysyn (203771)
        Twice.
      • Well, if I was interested in the classics, I'd read them! I'm not talking about project gutenberg, I'm talking about my particular reading tastes, ... being current fiction.

        I'm sure there are plenty of people who'd agree that project gutenberg is great, but *not* current ;)
  • by dpilot (134227) on Friday February 29, 2008 @12:05PM (#22601662) Homepage Journal
    My knowledge of mythology comes from the standard Greco-Roman stuff in high school plus whatever Norse you can pick up by reading "The Mighty Thor" comic books.

    While most of reading "American Gods" was fun, I could see many references going over my head, and it was kind of like low-level overflights by a jet fighter. Whooooooosh!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by KublaiKhan (522918)
      It'd be well worth your time to go take a quick scan through the basics of Norse mythology. You'll understand much much more of the book that way.

      I laughed my ass off when Wednesday introduced himself as Wednesday, as I was already suspecting him to be at least related to who he was.
      • I laughed my ass off when Wednesday introduced himself as Wednesday, as I was already suspecting him to be at least related to who he was.
        Same here. Yet I'm still kicking myself in the ass for not catching the obvious Low Key giveaway.
      • by aqk (844307)
        Hey, I'm still Thor from laughing!


    • While most of reading "American Gods" was fun, I could see many references going over my head

      There was a passage where I was amazed to find the imagery exactly compatible with the "mythology" of the White Wolf role playing games: To avoid a technocratic roadblock they move to the penumbra spirit world across the veil and see a giant biotechnological pattern-spider where the men in black were in the physical realm.
      At first I figured they had both drawn inspiration from the same source, but he described, spot on, so many of the elements the games had defined that it couldn't be mere coincidence.

      So n

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Friday February 29, 2008 @12:06PM (#22601676)
    The kind of stuff he does here, if other people did it the reaction would be "Gee, isn't he full of himself, 'look, ma, I'm writing real good!'" It would come of as affected and hackish. But the reality-bending stuff he does in here, it's just real weird good. Been a fan of his since Sandman. He has a way of turning reality sideways, making you suddenly aware of the audience before you and the stage machinery behind -- that literally happens in a few places. Strange, chewy brain candy.

    I would also highly recommend Good Omens, a collaboration between himself and Terry Pratchett. How to describe it? "Imagine if Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett wrote their version of the Omen and Rosemary's Baby, the Christian Apocalypse before Left Behind became so cheesy-popular. Yes, it's exactly like that. Go read it."
    • by kalirion (728907) on Friday February 29, 2008 @12:15PM (#22601788)
      I describe Good Omens to people as "Think of the movie Dogma, only opposite."
      • Yeah. I wish he made the sequel: _The Neighbor Of The Beast_. By the way, what exactly is the idea that the publisher is testing? Are they expecting people to buy other Gaiman material in electric form, or more orders for other books at amazon? (American Gods was very nice, by the way. However, I'll always keep Sandman, Books Of Magic, and The High Cost Of Living as my favorite Gaiman works.)
        • by qengho (54305)

          I wish he made the sequel: _The Neighbor Of The Beast_.

          Somebody beat him to it. [www.last.fm]

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by halycon404 (1101109)
          Yes, anything with Death is good. But my favorite.. is Neverwhere.

          As for what they are testing... The idea goes like this.. if more people are aware of an authors work.. more people will in turn buy that authors work. The reason for this is because while a lot of people may not buy Unknown Author A's book, they are more than willing to take it for free to see if they like it and then buy more by that author if they did. Unfortunately, choosing someone like Niel Gaiman for the test case sorta fouls the

    • by Bogtha (906264)

      I think it's a hilarious book, but I do wonder how much of it translates well to a non-British reader. A lot of my favourite parts, even the tone of voice and regional dialect in some cases, seem to depend on being familiar with the UK. Slashdot-relevant quote:

      Along with the standard computer warranty agreement which said that if the machine 1) didn't work, 2) didn't do what the expensive advertisements said, 3) electrocuted the immediate neighborhood, 4) and in fact failed entirely to be inside the e

      • Well, I'm from Denver, Colorado, and I had no problems with misunderstandings... but maybe they just went over my head. On another note, I LOVE Gaiman, and I can see only good for him coming out of this initiative... although I do kinda wish they had release Neverwhere, as I think its a slightly better book :)
    • Good Omens is an excellent book. Also the only book I have ever laughed out loud to while reading, repeatedly.
    • Affected and hackish. Yes- you've described it exactly. Ditto for "Isn't he full of himself." I'd also add "able to relieve migraine headaches, in the same way that hitting your thumb with a hammer can do" and "you'll keep reading in the sadly mistaken belief that 'Nothing can be this bad- it HAS to get better sometime'" and a more succinct "utter crap" to the list. Doesn't even qualify as escapist pulp. I've read better Harlequin Romance novels left behind on trains.
  • Just a quick look seems like its a online only thing. Is there a "download" link I'm missing? Thanks
  • of reading entire novels online. I mean, lets be honest here, American Gods isn't exactly a slim book, that's a lot of text to scroll through, using a reader or not.

    I know there are a lot of people out there that seem to prefer the format, but for me part of the enjoyment of reading is getting away from everything else, including the computer.

    • That's what things like the 'Kindle' are for.

      I recently got a Nokia n800--they call it an 'internet tablet'--and this is about perfect for reading on it, if I wasn't already in the middle of the dead tree version.

      It's also convenient that I don't have to deal with lightswitches.
  • by The-Bus (138060) on Friday February 29, 2008 @12:13PM (#22601752)
    I thought I would be able to download a TXT file or a PDF of this book. Nope, no download. Instead I can browse it through the publisher's site, which is not only a bit slow, but also eye-straining. The images of the pages are so compressed it makes it unenjoyable to read. If only there was some way to rent books locally.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If only there was some way to rent books locally.

      I think you're onto something, but why have rental fees. It would be even better if you could just go somewhere close to home and simply "check out" books and only pay "fines" if you keep them too long or damage them.

      I hope someone's paying attention. This is a real need!

      • The problem with libraries is that only one person can borrow a copy at a time, which is silly with modern technology. My pet peeve is with scratched music CDs, it would be great if the library archived the originals and loaned out CDR copies, for example. Though there are probably a bazillion laws against that.
        • by robertjw (728654)
          Libraries don't have to lend out one copy at a time. They can lend out multiple copies of the same book as long as they own multiple copies. Most libraries just don't have the resources, or room, to have multiple copies of a single book on the shelf. Digital copies solves the space issue, but not the licensing issue. Until all Intellectual Property laws are repealed, this isn't going to change.

          The scratched music CDs are another matter. You would think the Library would be within fair use regulation
    • by corsec67 (627446)
      Agreed.
      Releasing a book online as a bunch of over compressed JPEG files is just stupid. JPEG and text just do not go together, unless you have quality=100%. It would have been much better if they had used png, gif, or svg.

      It is just a tiny bit better than using a photograph of each page, but only slightly.

      What is wrong with pdf, or even .txt?

      This has FAIL written all over it, in the bleeding edges of the text.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by hrieke (126185)

      If only there was some way to rent books locally.

      I believe it's called a Library.
    • It wouldn't even work on my browser. (Firefox on Windows.) I might try on my Linux box, but what's the point? My reading time is on the train.
    • by Jesterboy (106813)
      Make sure you don't click "Fit to Window". When the page first loads, it comes up in whatever the native resolution of the images is. While not horribly large, it's decently clear, and not the pixelated mess that occurs if you try to scale it. Not ideal, but readable.

      I've been meaning to read this book for a while, but keep forgetting to pick it up at the library or bookstore. I've already read its follow up, "Anansi Boys", an excellent book, and I expect no less from this one. I, for one, much prefer
    • by LuYu (519260)

      I thought I would be able to download a TXT file or a PDF of this book. Nope, no download. Instead I can browse it through the publisher's site, which is not only a bit slow, but also eye-straining. The images of the pages are so compressed it makes it unenjoyable to read.

      I could not agree more. The headline should read: Neil Gaiman Book "American Gods" Locked Up Online.

  • So will the publisher at least provide a partial refund for the book since I bought it a few months ago, akin to what Apple did for the original iPhone purchasers. I am kidding of course since I believe in the free market and I felt the book was worth the investment. The people that overpaid for the iPhone then complained are idiots. They felt that the product was worth the price, just because it went down does not entitle them to a rebate. This is like venture capitalists and investors who put money in
    • by l2718 (514756)
      I think the new offering, while cheaper, is rather inferior to the product you bought. Thoses iPhones where the same phones before and after the price reduction.
  • I was reading this book some years ago and my mother saw the cover and asked me 'American gods? Like money and power?' to which I responded 'No, Odin and Thor'. She gave me a smack for being a smart ass.
    • by njfuzzy (734116)
      Of course, the point of the book may indeed be that things like Money, Power, Consumerism, and Technology *are* the American Gods.
      • by Tavor (845700)
        Because aside from the "been dominated, stuffed, and mounted in a broomcloset" native beliefs, (and not including Wicca for being a 50's pan-anglican rehash of old paganism,) America has no Gods of it's own. Perhaps this is Neil Gaiman's meaning?

        Full disclosure: I am indian by blood, and yes, a pagan.
  • Absolutely painful. While Mr. Gaiman and his publishers are free to do as they please, I'm unimpressed. No pdf? Nothing I can take with me when I'm sans net? I can appreciate that this probably seemed like a really "edgy" idea in the boardroom, out here in the street they just come off looking, well... old.

    Also, the horribly clunky "Web 2.0 interface" is a hoot. :-)
  • The way they're releasing it requires a fairly large high resolution screen even to read, due to the way the web page is laid out and the image-based page viewing. I can't imagine reading this even on a full-time connected handheld... so it's missing the largest potential pool of readers.

    If someone with an iPhone or equivalent could comment on how readable it is on the small screen I'd be interested in knowing how far off the mark I am.
  • by Speare (84249) on Friday February 29, 2008 @12:43PM (#22602214) Homepage Journal
    As far as Gaiman's books go, I found Neverwhere to be much more satisfying read than American Gods. The latter felt more like a cross between the old "Sam & Max" PC game, and the second Dirk Gently story, Long Dark Teatime of the Soul, from Douglas Adams, and not as polished or tight (or funny) as either one.
    • I think you hit the nail on the head. With 'Neverwhere' there was a clear plot, and with each new event there was a sense of progressing toward a conclusion. 'American Gods' felt a lot more meandering--the scenery was nice, but the trip went in circles.
      • I had much the opposite feelings about the two books. I enjoyed every minute of 'American Gods'. The side stories and the overall plot kept me questioning everything and the story really made me care for the characters he created. I was a bit sad when I finished the book and didn't have some strange adventure to read about each evening. Afterwards I read 'Neverwhere'. 'Neverwhere' always felt a little hollow to me. It was a much quicker read but it never really got my attention like American Gods did.
        • One thing that 'Neverwhere' probably has counted against it is that it was originally written as a script, and then expanded to a novel. I think my favorite of his stuff thus far has been 'Stardust,' but based on your recommendation, maybe I'll take a crack at 'Anansi Boys' next time I'm at the library. Thanks.
  • ...I didn't actually like American Gods. It just felt like there wasn't anything particularly new or interesting in the story that I haven't seen in territory covered by other writers like Douglas Adams , Tom Holt, etc. Maybe a bit 'darker' but I wouldn't say it made for better reading.

    That said, I am still pleased that Gaiman is doing this. As a writer myself, I am all for people getting used to the idea that you can actually find books and stories to read online. Maybe if they like it (most will bitch
  • I will never be able to forget the scene where the girl eats the guy. I wish I had never read this book.
  • SUMMARY (Score:4, Interesting)

    by scuba_steve_1 (849912) on Friday February 29, 2008 @01:58PM (#22603216)
    Lunch is not free. Authors and publishers have mortgages too.

    The book is available online for reading online only - not for download - and the online version looks like a series of highly compressed JPEG images given the "noise" surrounding the text. You would have to be fairly frugal to read the entire book on that site...and that is most likely by design. Read a chapter or two and then buy the book if you like it...and like your eyes.
    • by StikyPad (445176)
      Wouldn't take much to OCR it into a different format, but that doesn't make extensive screen-reading any more palatable in my book. (Sorry, sorry).

      I thought the book was ok, for what it was. Unfortunately I didn't know what it was when I bought it, and deist mythology is best left in the past, in my opinion. What makes mythology interesting is not just the stories themselves, but their context. A modern novel is hardly the same as the basis of an entire civilization and as such doesn't hold nearly the s
    • by swillden (191260)

      Lunch is not free. Authors and publishers have mortgages too.

      To see how to do on-line free books RIGHT, so that they're easy to read and help to pay the mortgage, look here [baen.com].

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Friday February 29, 2008 @02:13PM (#22603464) Homepage
    Has anybody actually tried the link? It's awful. They made a single web page with hundreds of JPEGs, one for each page of the text. The images aren't sharp or fully black, so they are hard to read. And it takes forever to load. They added a nice AJAX "loading..." message over the top while you scroll, but sheesh - I'd far rather just go to the library or buy the book.
    • by corsec67 (627446)

      I'd far rather just go to the library or buy the book.


      Isn't that the entire point of what the publisher is trying to do?
      Give you a taste of the book, to entice you to buy it?
    • If I wanted to read "American Gods" on my computer, I would download a copy from #bookz on IRC. At least I can read that copy.

      There are also dozens of copies of it at the local (Chicago) library.

      I already have a signed copy of the book, so I won't bother doing either.

      A very readable book with an unreadable online version.
  • Just FYI, Dream Haven Books (http://www.dreamhavenbooks.com/ [dreamhavenbooks.com]) in Minneapolis collaborates with Neil Gaiman, and he occasionally autographs his stuff for the store. I once picked up an autographed first edition hardback of "Good Omens" there. Now if I can just get PTerry to sign it, too...
  • Can't download (Score:3, Interesting)

    by adona1 (1078711) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @07:36AM (#22609338)
    As more than a few people have pointed out, you can't download it. According to his blog, Neil is aware of this and is attempting to get the publisher to actually place a pdf/lit etc version on there for downloading. Those who read his blog would also know that there was a poll last week to choose which book of his would be available. Unfortunately, Good Omens wasn't an option, probably because of the dual copyright.

    I have to say, I find it hard to see how he ever gets any books written - he's one of the more prolific bloggers I've come across :)
  • To those people who think this is a good idea, click the link and look at their ultra-crappy implementation. It's a series of images, not text, it isn't resizable, and when you attempt to scroll a huge, ugly, and distracting "loading" box popps up.

    If anyone can actually read the book with all that crap going on, they'll be delighted to learn that it isn't possible to save your spot, so you either have to read it all in one go, or randomly poke around to attempt to find your place through their insanely cra
  • I read about 10% of the book on line and just went to Barnes&Nobel and bought it so I could read the rest without the eye strain.
    I assume that was the point of the project, so I guess it worked on me.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..." -- Isaac Asimov

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