How to get that worthless eBook without giving out your email address

I don’t like giving out my email address.

But sometimes I do. If you send me something compelling once every five messages, I’ll throw everything else into the archive and forgive you.

Percolate sends me stuff about once a week, which is pretty tame. And they really had me hooked with this subject line:

That piqued my interest. I’m moving to a new city in a few months and I’m taking a crack at a home business. Both of these things have me pretty excited.

So, what can Flint, Michigan teach me about running a company?

But then, Percolate did something annoying. When I tried to claim my prize, they sent me to a landing page asking me for my email address again.

And they didn’t stop there! They wanted my company and job title, too. So not only are they forcing me to define my role in an imaginary company, but they don’t even offer the self-congratulatory option of ‘CEO’ in their drop-down.

Let’s just go with “other”, thanks.

I didn’t give them my email a second time. Instead, I looked for a way around it — and then stumbled upon every other eBook they sent out.

Here’s the trick. Ready for it?

There’s a dead-simple Google search string that gave me exactly what I wanted.

Honestly, it’s too easy to be considered clever.

Put any domain after ‘site:’, specify the file-type, and throw in any relevant keywords. And there you have it!

You can replicate this with any website that hosts their eBooks on their domains (assuming it’s been indexed by Google).

It’s also a great way to stumble on content that they haven’t invited you to read. Just specify the site, file-type and leave out the keywords.

Feels kind of devious, right?

So, was the eBook worth the trouble? As usual, I felt most of it was unnecessary formatting and throw-away material (so it goes). But it introduced me to the work of Geoffrey West, someone who has gotten a lot of press for his ideas since 2011 after doing a TED talk on this very idea.

It’s a novel concept, and West has committed himself fully to this idea. But there wasn’t substantive analysis from Percolate, as I had expected. And I could have gotten more out of his TED talk, which the folks at the Sapling Foundation happily give away — without my email address.

And what a stage presence, Mr. West!