From Infinite To Scarce: xkcd Goes The Book Route

from the the-way-things-work-these-days dept

A bunch of folks have been sending in the NY Times story about how the online comic xkcd is going to be putting out a book, and that it's being done avoiding the traditional book publishing process. There are some key quotes in there, including:
In fact, the xkcd story previews the much more likely future of books in which they are prized as artifacts, not as mechanisms for delivering written material to readers. This is print book as vinyl record -- admired for its look and feel, its cover art, and relative permanence -- but not so much for convenience.
And then there's the more important point about Randall Munroe not worrying about copying of the content -- and instead focusing on the other direction:
Publishing a book is an extension of the selling of items like T-shirts and posters, which pays the bills, he said, to a "free culture" mind-set about the cartoons themselves. "We have been encouraging people to share things, saying that it is a good business decision," he said....

One trick in transferring the material from online to print has been how to recreate the "title text" that comments on the strip when your cursor hovers over it.

"It's not supposed to be a punch line, but hopefully if you didn't laugh, you'll laugh at this," he said. The title text will appear where the tiny copyright notice would appear on a traditional strip.

Does that mean that the book won't carry a traditional copyright and instead take its lead from the online comic strip itself, which Mr. Munroe licenses under Creative Commons, allowing noncommercial re-use as long as credit is given?

"To anyone who wants to photocopy, bind, and give a copy of the book to their loved one -- more power to them," he said. "He/She will likely be disappointed that you're so cheap, though."
It's been clear from pretty much the beginning that Munroe understands that getting more widely known is a lot more important than worrying about "piracy," and it's great to see him take that attitude even further.
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Filed Under: book, infinite, randall munroe, scarcity, xkcd


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