the right way to make a living from intellectual property? Should
you give it all away for free and count on the kindness of strangers to
sustain you, or should you hold your output close to your chest and
demand payment for every iota? I've been pondering this issue as
I experiment with ebooks, and as I watch other creative types around me
follow very different paths.
On the one hand, there's
the old school approach, adhered to by some well
known authors. Over on our homesteading blog, I like to write up
every week or so reviewing an interesting book, and I generally snag
photos off the internet to decorate the posts, citing them with a link
back to the source. A couple of the subjects of these series have
asked me to take images down, despite the fact that my posts send lots
of traffic their way (and definitely sell books, as I can tell from my
Amazon affiliate program). I have to admit that I think poorly of
those authors as a result, and am less inclined to buy their books.
At the other extreme, my brother
writes free software, not asking a penny for his labors.
I love his free software and use lots of it, but it didn't actually
occur to me until I started writing this post that I should put my
money where my mouth is and send the developers some cash. Even
now, I wouldn't really know where to start to support the dozens of
free programs I use on a daily basis.
that if I didn't make any money on my ebooks, I'd write a lot fewer of
them and they'd be much less polished, which makes me feel that the
totally free approach is as bad for the public as for the
creators. As a result, I'm currently walking the middle
road. While I do charge 99
cents for my ebooks, I also post a quarter of each one on my blog where
anyone can read it. I give away free pdf copies to anyone who
emails me to ask for one, and I don't enable digital rights management
and do enable lending.
The technique seems to work well at selling books, but I'm still not
totally sure it's the ethical choice (thus this post.)
I'd be curious to hear
what others think about the issue of making a
living from intellectual property in the internet age. Do you use
an all-paid, all-free, or middle of the road approach?
Meanwhile, don't forget
to spend 99 cents to check out the
final volume in the Weekend Homesteader series, full of information on
planting an early spring garden, growing edible mushrooms, building a
compost pile, and attracting native pollinators. This will be my
last ebook for a while, but I'll be sure to let you know when the print
book comes out.
to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the
RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed.