Politics, Technology, and Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought — George Orwell

Giving it away and getting it back

Posted by metaphorical on 2 December 2006

Cory Doctorow, in Forbes, of all places:

I’ve been giving away my books ever since my first novel came out, and boy has it ever made me a bunch of money. […]

Most people who download the book don’t end up buying it, but they wouldn’t have bought it in any event, so I haven’t lost any sales, I’ve just won an audience. A tiny minority of downloaders treat the free e-book as a substitute for the printed book–those are the lost sales. But a much larger minority treat the e-book as an enticement to buy the printed book. They’re gained sales. As long as gained sales outnumber lost sales, I’m ahead of the game. After all, distributing nearly a million copies of my book has cost me nothing.

I wrote about this in my July 2002 column in Spectrum, “Lost and Found: Media Sales.” It’s good to see the basic idea–you don’t necessarily lose sales by making books and music available for free–still rings true. Ironically, the article is no longer available on-line for free.

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