The Instapundit has had a boat load of mostly SF book recommendations. The JunkYardBlogger comes out and recommends a book too. Lots of people, including yours truly, did the recent book meme. So let me try and put some thoughts about all that booky goodness together into one post.
First off the JYB recommends a book by Lars Walker and published by Baen. Since it is published by Baen, who have a sane policy on eBooks and publicity, you can read enough of it on line for free to get hooked and then buy the rest as an ebook for $5. The ebooks are available in a wide range of non-copy protected formats.
1. Online piracy — while it is definitely illegal and immoral — is, as a practical problem, nothing more than (at most) a nuisance. We're talking brats stealing chewing gum, here, not the Barbary Pirates.
2. Losses any author suffers from piracy are almost certainly offset by the additional publicity which, in practice, any kind of free copies of a book usually engender. Whatever the moral difference, which certainly exists, the practical effect of online piracy is no different from that of any existing method by which readers may obtain books for free or at reduced cost: public libraries, friends borrowing and loaning each other books, used book stores, promotional copies, etc.
3. Any cure which relies on tighter regulation of the market — especially the kind of extreme measures being advocated by some people — is far worse than the disease. As a widespread phenomenon rather than a nuisance, piracy occurs when artificial restrictions in the market jack up prices beyond what people think are reasonable. The "regulation-enforcement-more regulation" strategy is a bottomless pit which continually recreates (on a larger scale) the problem it supposedly solves. And that commercial effect is often compounded by the more general damage done to social and political freedom.
And in the rest of the intro and various "prime palaver" essays he goes on to make the case very strongly that online "piracy" is in fact a non-issue and compares it with the off-line equivalent, otherwise known as "borrowing a book".
The result of that is that my recommendations for the Instapundit and anyone else draw very heavily from the Baen stable. For those of a libertarian bent, I recommend, as I have done a number of times before, Michael Z Williamson's books: Freehold is in the Free Library and The Weapon is available as part of the August Webscription bundle ($15) - 3/4 can be read now, the rest in a month's time. On the less serious side - although his latest work is an excellent fantasy, Dave Freer writes excellent comic SF and some are available in the Free Library for download. Another excellent humourous series is the Thraxes one by Martin Scott - unfortunately not in the Free Library but considerable are chunks available as teasers. Going back to the more serious end of the business, there is Dr Travis S. Taylor whose books remind me of EE 'Doc' Smith only with a better handle on actual science. Oh and I do also recommend Lars Walker too, though I'm not as great a fan of his as the JYB is.