Cory Doctorow is Giving it Away

For Forbes magazine’s “Future of Publishing” feature, Cory Doctorow wrote Giving It Away, in which he discusses his experiences with giving away his books for free.

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.

Forbes also has the article My Author, My Life by Hannah Clark which talks about fans’ efforts to help Robert Jordan.

3 thoughts on “Cory Doctorow is Giving it Away”

  1. Costs Cory nothing?

    Only a million potential

    buyers of his books.

    I tried ordering one of

    his books a month or so

    ago and there is nothing

    available paperback.

    I can see distributing

    stories away for free

    I’ve done it myself, lots

    of us have. I can see

    having a sample book as

    an ebook download sure

    but not at the exclusion

    of everything else. I

    don’t think he meant that

    but that was my initial

    impression.

  2. A “potential buyer” is difficult to define – until money changes hands everyone is technically a potential buyer even if there is no way in Hell they would be interested in what is being sold.

    As a consumer, I like choice and I am certainly more apt to part with my hard earned dollars if I’ve been given a taste for free. In the end aren’t we all that way? Nothing is more frustrating than laying out $25+ for a hardcover and discovering 1/3 of the way in that it SUCKS.

    On the other hand, if an author or podcaster or podiobooker really delivers and creates something GREAT and then offers it to me for free, I’ll gladly take a suggestion to donate. To me, that’s an honest exchange.

    I have listened to many books at Podiobooks.com productions. I’ve donated a couple times for books I honestly never expected to like, but tried out since they were there for free. I also like that they give 75% of the donations directly to the author.

    My point is this: those authors whose work I have enjoyed are filed away in my brain. I know their names. I know who Cory Doctorow is and have read his stuff precisely because its offered up free to build an audience.

    For me, his plan has worked brilliantly. I *am* a potential buyer for his work and others like him.

  3. ps – a very quick search on Amazon yields a half dozen paperbacks by Cory Doctorow readily available.

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