Originally Posted by HarryT
What on Earth have you got against book samples? They are the eBook equivalent of being able to flip through a book in a bookshop, and allow you to check that it's reasonably formatted, etc. I find the free samples for every book to be one of the most useful features of the Kindle bookstore.
I love the free samples and use them freely when considering a new author. However, the separate "sample books" are another thing entirely. They are both a remnant of publishing before the Kindle, when samples didn't exist as something that every ebook had or even before that when samples had to be printed, and a new marketing tool used to game the Amazon bestseller lists, as the "sales" of these sample books (but not the downloaded samples from actual books) count in the number of total sales for the book and the author, which pushes their _real_ book to the top of the bestseller lists when it is released, as it suddenly has thousands of "sales" of the "free preview" version. I strongly suspect it's how Patterson claimed to be the first person to pass a million ebook sales, despite having Kindle sales of a couple hundred thousand less than Stieg Larrsen (who is the first to pass a million on Kindle and did so more honestly, as no "free preview" versions were handed out, although some full content copies of one book were free quite some time ago).
Also, as I predicted when this first started, the marketing copy is now a common giveaway of some publishers and the "first free in series" is being replaced by a markdown of one title to the $3 range, instead.