After reading Farthing, I read the Wikipedia article about Jo Walton, curious both about her and about the other books she's written, and she's now doubly interesting to me because it seems she's an advocate for professional writers' work being available on the internet. In 2007 Howard V. Hendrix stated his opposition to professional writers posting their writing for free on the internet, his idea being that this makes them effectively strikebreakers. Jo Walton named April 23rd International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, when writers are meant to publish their writing freely online all at once. Not necessarily whole books, even, just a few chapters.
What do you think of books being available on the internet for free? To me, it seems that if people haven't stopped buying paper books just because they can pay to download lots of books to a Kindle or similar, they're not going to stop buying paper books just because they can have them on their computers for free. It's less convenient to have to sit in front of a computer to read a book than to have a more-or-less pocket-sized book you can carry anywhere, whether or not you have to pay for it. Anyway, I like it when authors put their work up on the internet because to me it says that they're willing to come into closer contact with their readers, which always seems like a good thing. I wouldn't be surprised if this Howard V. Hendrix fellow is the sort of author who's afraid of that. Also, I have personal proof that this sort of thing isn't going to stop sales--I read Nameless on the internet and now I really want to order the hard copy and am determined to do so at some point.
I think maybe I've been reading too much of Sam Starbuck's thoughts on internet-publishing--you can find most of this here, though you might have to dig a little for the really interesting stuff. (And I recommend his blog in general as both interesting and very funny--that link is just the publishing stuff, click on the recent entries link at the top of the page for the rest of it.) However you look at it, it's a fascinating and very immediate topic.