January 08, 2004
Giving it away

Here's an interesting proclamation, concerning an SF author who is making all his writings available as pdf files, free of charge or condition, on the Internet. He explains why, and his explanation can be summarised in one word: profit.

Thanks to Instapundit for the link. (Mrs Instapundit also has a book available free online, a cheery little number about juvenile murderers. Summary: too much self esteem.)

And a reminder that my only two works of fiction, and one a very short short story (pdf and html), and a short story about three times as long as that one (pdf and html, are both available to be read on a similar basis. Or, you can buy them on paper (which is just a photocopy of the pdf stuff) for 20p and 40p respectively. Don't all write in at once, in fact my preference would be for nobody to write in at all.

And hey, look at this. Funny how, when you start to write about something, the same thing suddenly pops up elsewhere. (Or maybe it was always there and you suddenly notice it.) Here's Jackie D linking to this clutch of 700 free online e-books.

Clearly this is not a trend which will go away. But where is the best site for getting free stuff of this kind? It seems to me that there will sooner or later be a market leader for old writings out of copyright, based on number of hits, quality of text, excellence of edition choice, and so forth.

This stuff is a natural next step for publicly funded libraries and universities. They have the skills. They have the money. So let them just use it. Personally I want the public sector to drop dead, but if I was in favour of it, this is what I would be begging it to do, to justify its existence.

The reason that the public sector is especially well placed to do such things is that, what with them already being paid by the government, they don't have to chase every last little micro-penny and micro-cent from their users, which is in any case a losing strategy as this guy explains (in a piece I've already linked to from here.

Come to think of it, I did a posting on Samizdata not so long ago which made the point, which I still think is a good one, that the big distinction on the Internet is not between the "blogosphere" and other things, but between what's free to start reading right away with no bullshit about paying or registering or telling them your email or your granny's maiden name, and what is not.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 08:51 PM
Category: Science fictionThe Internet