Author Gives Away Book, Admits Obscurity A Much Bigger Problem Than Piracy

from the get-it-out-there dept

Doc was the first of a few of you to send in the news that author Charles Sheehan-Miles is the latest of a bunch of new authors who are happily giving away their new books for free. Sheehan-Miles is also making sure to give it away in as many formats as he can think of to make it as easy to read as possible, based on whatever your preference might be. He's definitely helping to highlight the maxim that obscurity is a much bigger threat to authors than piracy. He appears to recognize that there are plenty of business models if his work is well known -- but there are very few if no one knows who you are.

Speaking of free book experiments, a few others have also submitted the fact that Kevin Kelly's latest book on documentary films is available as a free pdf download -- but with contextual ads from Yahoo included. It's an interesting experiment as a model for free books, but it seems like one unlikely to go very far. It's difficult to see those ads being very effective in most books (there are a few exceptions). Either way, it's nice to see authors experimenting with new models, rather than simply whining about "piracy."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Aaron, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 2:02pm

    Baen Publishing already does this...

    Baen Publishing has been giving away their books in electronic form for well over 7 years now.

    www.baen.com

    Their "Free Library" has many of their #1 selling novels available w/o any DRM.

     

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  2.  
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    Jason (profile), Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 2:36pm

    And it's working..

    At least one of their authors (Mercedes Lackey) has seen an increase in her NON Baen books since she put up several of her titles, which leads her to conclude that the free library has increased her sales...

     

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  3.  
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    drummer, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 2:46pm

    Baen Publishing

    Flattened has the right of it. AND the books that Baen has in the Free Library are very good books, many by well known respected authors. I have also bought new releases in eBook format from Baen at vary reasonable prices - all without DRM.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 2:50pm

    He also got on digg.

    A very business savvy move indeed.


    To announce such a move to this business model in a time when only a few others doing is also a very well timed move. They get the HURRAH from fans and lot of media attention(Think Radiohead).

    It might as well be a first mover advantage.


    Of course, in the free software world, this is the norm. As a result, there are no advantages to announce that you're using this business model. Although you're not going to wow onlookers with free software business models but you're ready and equipped for the future.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 3:06pm

    Re: Baen Publishing already does this...

    Roger that, i forgot to bookmark them several months ago and can never remember the name "Baen" despite reading several things off of there.

    Kinda sad to think that, but all well. Free libraries ftw!

     

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  6.  
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    Michael Long, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 3:43pm

    Coward #4 is correct...

    In that often the reason for doing it is publicity, and in the case of Radiohead, being among the first to do so.

    When everyone is doing it, however, it no longer becomes newsworthy and as such one could argue that the benefits are negligable.

    At which point the next fad in standing out from the crowd will appear.

     

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  7.  
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    David King, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 3:49pm

    Re: And it's working..

    Podcasts, too. I'm a fan of Mercedes Lackey's Secret World Chronicle books on iTunes. Comic books for the ears.

     

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  8.  
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    Mike (profile), Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 3:53pm

    Re: Coward #4 is correct...

    In that often the reason for doing it is publicity, and in the case of Radiohead, being among the first to do so.

    And this is a problem, why?

    When everyone is doing it, however, it no longer becomes newsworthy and as such one could argue that the benefits are negligable.

    Other than the fact that everyone is doing it... and that everyone can now "sample" your work.

    At which point the next fad in standing out from the crowd will appear.

    Which is what most people call progress.

     

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  9.  
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    gryndyl, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 5:22pm

    Cory Doctorow said all of this years ago.

    In fact he has stated in interviews and on roundtable discussion podcasts like This Week in Tech that obscurity is a much bigger threat to authors than piracy.
    If Charles Sheehan-Miles is quoting Doctorow then so be it, but cite the source at least.
    As for getting your work out to the public and getting known, I am all for it, it worked for Scott Sigler, J.C. Hutchins and others, so go for it.

     

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  10.  
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    Michael Long, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 5:52pm

    Sample

    "Other than the fact that everyone is doing it... and that everyone can now "sample" your work."

    Right. Always assuming, of course, that they bother to do so now that everyone else is doing asking them to do the same exact thing.

    If one company left a free sample in a bag on your front door you might try it out. But when it gets to be twenty or thirty or more a day, you start keeping a trash can by the door.

    See "spam", also a case of too much of a "good" thing.

    "Which is what most people call progress."

    Which just goes to show how much thought "most people" give to it.

     

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  11.  
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    Eric the Grey, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 7:11pm

    Re: Re: And it's working..

    Oh, thank you for this. I'm a huge fan of Mercedes Lackey's work. This made my day.

    Now all I've got to do is wait until I get home to download them, since "music" services are all blocked at work...


    EtG

     

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  12.  
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    Geoff Edelmann, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 5:21am

    Scott Adams

    Scott Adams of Dilbert fame can sell books well on his own, but he still put one up for free.

    http://www.andrewsmcmeel.com/godsdebris/

    Free books also can help an author break our of their assumed genre. Thereby, opening up new vistas.

     

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  13.  
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    Jonathan Fesmire, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 11:40am

    An Inspiration

    Charles was the inspiration for me putting making my own novel, Children of Rhatlan, a free pdf download. You can read more in my Live Journal, and download it directly from here. I'd also appreciate some Diggs! Charles, thank you for the inspiration! I hope we both get thousands of new fans.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 1:39pm

    I have no problem with content creaters going this route, why do you have a problem with those that choose not to and go after the ones who choose to put their work up on networks for the world to see? Its good for some, its not the best thing for all. You seem to want to force (or encourage) everyone to go this route.

     

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  15.  
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    Seth Harwood, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 3:15pm

    Giving it ALL away!

    Yes, Charles is doing great stuff and catapulting himself out of anonymity at the same time. There're a bunch of us over at Podiobooks.com who are doing the same thing as authors, Charles included. Why not stop over and check out all the free books in audio format (read by the author) including the world's first crime/noir podcast novel, JACK WAKES UP, by your truly.
    If the pdf format is more your game, have a visit to manybooks.net

     

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  16.  
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    Developerzero, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 12:26am

    Baen isn't the only one...

    Don't forget about Wowio. They offer a pretty good sized collection of free books, including a number of high-quality comics/manga/graphic novels.

    What they do is they limit you to three downloads a day, they add a note indicating who the advertiser is (something like "Paid for by Verizon Wireless"), and they add a one page ad at the beginning of the book.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Developerzero, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 12:26am

    Baen isn't the only one...

    Don't forget about Wowio. They offer a pretty good sized collection of free books, including a number of high-quality comics/manga/graphic novels.

    What they do is they limit you to three downloads a day, they add a note indicating who the advertiser is (something like "Paid for by Verizon Wireless"), and they add a one page ad at the beginning of the book.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Andrew Flope, Jan 11th, 2008 @ 8:30am

    problem

    Charles was the inspiration for me putting making my own novel, Children of Rhatlan, a free pdf download.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Pery, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 2:29pm

    Good novel

    Oh, I like this post very much!
    Thanks)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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