Canadian publisher ECW, celebrating the first anniversary of its free e-book initiative, is promoting the program at its booth (2527) by distributing postcard handouts it hopes will make more booksellers aware of its innovative offer.

ECW—which originally stood for Essays on Canadian Writing (a literary journal), and now represents a range of entertainment, culture, and writing—was founded in 1974 and has about 900 titles in print. Each is available in digital form, and ECW offers them in both ePub and PDF formats . The free e-book program begins when a customer purchases a print copy of an ECW book, whether through an indie or on ECW’s Web site, with a promotional sticker on the back cover. The customer can then send an e-mail to the press stating the title of the book and what type of digital file is preferred. An ECW staffer replies by attaching the requested file at no charge.

“We’ve given away over 1,500 e-books to date,” says Alexis Van Straten, marketing coordinator at the Toronto company. “The program has given us the opportunity to connect with our customers in a completely unprecedented way.” The initiative has not interfered with the company’s usual e-book sales. ECW has had a 63% increase in e-book purchases in the past year.

ECW’s co-publisher David Caron believes that the success of his press is measured in the relationships it has with its retail partners. “We want to make them feel secure that we will support their promotion of our print books by including a free e-version with that print sale, and also develop a better relationship with our customers, through direct contact and service.”