Because it seems to me that giving away an e-Book with a hardback is an excellent way to grow the e-book world, and something that a publisher could do at little or no cost.
The Orioles won last night, BTW. Anyway, this seems like a pretty awesome idea. A new guy at Harper Collins is considering giving away a free e-book and audiobook copy of a book which you have just purchased. As Neil says, “of course buying the book would give you the audio and the text, not just the object”. This is something of a radical idea compared to what most people are used to, but it could really grow the market for non-paper books. Growing the market for non-paper books is a good thing for authors and publishers (And the manufacturers of e-book readers and MP3 players and a whole mess of other industries who might be prescient enough to hop on the bandwagon) and, most certainly, book readers (or listeners). As I’ve mentioned (And as Techdirt has mentioned roughly 8 billion times), the marginal cost of producing another copy of an e-book or audiobook in digital format is nothing. Therefore, the cost of these goods should go to zero, as well. This makes them terrible things to try to sell, but wonderful things to use as promotional goods or just as “Hey, we (unlike you, recording industry) really do like our customers” rewards. I have some ulterior motives here - I’m hoping that the e-book market grows until someone puts out a cool e-book reader for a reasonable cost. I currently have 26 free and legal e-books saved on my computer. I’ve only read one of them, because reading a book on a computer screen really sucks. But I’d like to read the rest of them.