Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Why Buy Things that are Free?

Kevin Kelly has an extremely interesting article about the internet being an instant copy machine.     In brief he states how the internet allows others to make digital copy after digital copy and in the end the copies become worthless.    Kevin then poses the question how does   one make money selling free copies?

This immediately had me thinking about e-books and all of the problems that are inherent with them.

Publishers still have it in their mind that they can stop this force, this thing they call the internet.   They still believe DRMs will prevent free copies.   It is not doing it now and will not in the future. It’s preventing the growth of ebook sales.

What am I to do as a consumer?   Let’s say I want to read e-books.   Hmmm, okay, do I buy a Kindle, Sony, Cybook or maybe an Iliad?   Maybe you like the Sony.   Then after 24 months of enjoyment, the new Kindle comes out, oh it is sexy.   Very sleek, more powerful, it’s shiny red.   I am going to have to buy one of those.   (I am pretty sure that this is what goes on in Jane’s mind every time a new ebook reader is released).   Wait, though, if I do that means I have to have a book burning.   Every book that you have bought in the last 24 months for your Sony can not be read on your Kindle.

So where are we?   Do we have a book burning every 2 years?

This takes me to Apple who has been down this road before except not with e-books but music and video.   Everyone thought they were crazy breaking apart albums and selling individual songs.   No one was going to make money.   Then they went totally over the edge and started selling songs for $.99 and videos for $1.99.   They were either suicidal or   the market changed and we better change with it.

I love music and videos but I rarely in the past would purchase albums or dvd’s.   In fact I have not bought an album since Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.   That is until I bought my iphone.   I have bought more albums and individuals songs in the last 6 months then I have in the last 30 years.   I can use those songs anywhere and on nearly any medium.   I also buy things from Apple that are free!   Yes, stupid me, I buy cartoons that we could watch on the TV free for my iphone (so my daughter can watch them when we travel).

Advice to publishers?   Drop the DRM, and drop the price of your e-books.   Utilize   static advertising to off-set the cost.

Ned Litte

is Jane's long suffering husband who enjoys high fantasy novels and the occasional romance that Jane disguises as a fantasy book. He is also the photographer and artist of the multimedia reviews here at Dear Author.


  1. Tsu Dho Nimh
    Feb 08, 2008 @ 16:03:56

    The publishers are missing the boat. Baen Books has been making money for themselves and their authors by GIVING AWAY books here A discussion of motives and outcomes is here

    One Baen book was released to bookstores with all of the previous books of the series included on a CD-ROM and sales went up. Whenever an early book in a series hits the free library, sales of the whole series goes up.

    They also sell e-books in DRM-free formats like RTF and HTML ($15 gets the 6 books that are in the month’s release, or $5 for one book) … yes, sharing happens, but sales still go UP! Baen blatantly dangles e-book ARCs in front of readers, but the ARC doesn’t reduce sales, it increases them.

  2. Statch
    Feb 08, 2008 @ 17:28:14

    I hadn’t bought an album/CD in over 10 years when last year I subscribed to Yahoo Music. They let me download as many songs as I want for my small monthly fee. I don’t have to buy the songs unless I want to burn them to CD, which I rarely do any more. Recipe for not buying music, right? Wrong. I’ve bought at least 20 ‘albums’ of songs from them in the last year. It’s because I can listen to the music for a while before I buy to see if I really like it and know that I want to keep it.

    I buy a lot of ebooks but I don’t buy the ones I want to lend in ebook format. They’ve lost all those sales. So what if I would have lent it to someone else? It hasn’t killed the print book business. And if they just have to have DRM to prevent millions of copies–which would mean a whole lot more people were reading than are reading now–then just make it possible for me to give up the license to someone else (and get it back when they return the book :->).

    Arrghh — it’s hard to see the publishing businesses being so short-sighted.

  3. veinglory
    Feb 08, 2008 @ 20:35:40

    Most epublishers I use don’t have any DRM, for which I am grateful. I bought one DRM book and was locked out of it within days.

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