From 1997-2002 the Coach House embarked on an ambitious and unprecedented project: to put the contents of our frontlist books online for free. Led by the then Coach House Web Editor and web developer extraordinaire Damian Lopes, we amassed an impressive collection of over 70 unique online books, representing every title we published over that span.
These editions represent a radical, forward-thinking project; many of the biggest successes of the digital age have their roots in the online gift economy: Google, Yahoo, MySpace, YouTube and the entire Open Source programming movement all give away their core products for free and make their money on residuals. The Coach House online book project was a brave foray in developing a similar model for literary publishing.
The project was based on the premise that these online books wouldn't hurt sales, but would rather generate and buoy interest in Coach House Books and our more tangible offerings. The jury is still out on its overall commercial impact (given that its benefits are largely unmeasurable), but the project's artistic and cultural success is undeniable. It still generates an enormous amount of web traffic.
So what happened? Why did the Coach House stop producing online books? It's mostly due to the changing realities of the publishing industry. Funding for the nascent world of digital publishing dried up, and the project dried up with it. The project became financially unfeasible, especially in a time when the entire Canadian publishing industry was in a state of economic crisis.
Nevertheless, Coach House Books is still committed to online publishing, and is currently digitizing a third of its list into PDF and ePUB formats. Some of those titles are already available for sale in PDF format on our ebooks page. For more information on our current digitization projects, please visit our digital projects page. And please also enjoy this archive of remarkable texts.
DISCLAIMER: These books were developed a while ago (a veritable eternity in web time), and are presented as-is. Some of the links may not work, and some of the effects were designed for browsers that nobody uses anymore, so please be understanding.