Home > BCS, behaviours, business model, Publishing > Free as in Free – Really!?

Free as in Free – Really!?

More authors are now looking to give away free electronic copies of their works. Is it all just a gimmick or will the publishing industry be the first to ‘see the light’? Just what the hell[o] is going on?

Professor Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford professor and renowned author / advocate on Copyright and cyberspace, has just made his fourth book free to download under a Creative Commons license.

Now this may not sound like such a big deal given his enlightened stance on these matters, but it appears that the idea may be catching on. For example, in January 2008, Charles Sheehan-Miles, an author and Gulf war veteran, made his book ‘Republic‘ free to download (right alongside the Amazon.com order information and links) on his website.

Another author, David Parrish, has also made his creative business book, free to download from his website.

In both cases the authors rapidly came to the conclusion that they would rather face piracy than obscurity, and appear to have implemented this strategy with the underlying, and contrarian, hope that it could actually end up making them rich (now where have we heard that one before?).

However, concrete proof of this outcome may well exist in the shape of author Paulo Coelho according to thisslashdot article. This trend seems to be accelerating, and publishers (at least in the above examples) appear willing to give it a try.

Perhaps other content industries should borrow a leaf from them and give this model a chance. However, I do wonder what would happen if this became the norm. Will anybody still buy books, and how will publishers make any money in the meantime?

I would really love to get your comments on this, so get writing.

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