Do free books make people buy books?

The science fiction blog-vine is twitching vigorously today in response to a Bloggasm interview with Peter Watts and Nick Mamatas, two genre authors who’ve released their books as freely-available Creative Commons downloads on the internet with some degree of success. But is this a viable future for fiction as popular media, or is it a blip on the cultural radar? Only time will tell, I guess. But I can say with certainty that life is too short to make yourself finish reading a book you’re not enjoying, whatever format you got it in.