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SAS man makes phone-based publicity lunge

McNab in booky attention grab

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Ex-SAS man and action author Andy McNab's latest book is going to be promoted with a short-code that responds with a link to the first chapter of the book, free to your mobile phone - but unlike previous promotions of this type the chapter is also available in spoken form.

Giving away the chapter of a book for reading on mobiles is nothing new - Borders only launched its free-chapter-to-your-mobile service back in July, and it appears strangely bereft of content.

The problem is that mobile phones are very ill-equipped for reading books - they have small, low-resolution screens, and LCD isn't the ideal display technology for reading text anyway. Whether it's a question of technology or habit that we don't use phones as mobile libraries we'll find out next year, when the next generation of electronic-paper-based devices become available. But for the moment it seems that reading text on a phone screen is a non-starter.

The spoken word, on the other hand, can work on a mobile. Many phones are routinely used as MP3 players, and podcasts have shown how popular the spoken word can be. The publisher couldn't confirm if Andy would be reading the text himself, but it seems likely given the popularity of the readings on his website.

So users might find themselves hooked into McNab's latest thrillfest, Crossfire, by listening to the man himself reading the first chapter - assuming the cost of the download doesn't bankrupt them first. ®

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