Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, May 11, 2009

More on making money from OA books

Cory Doctorow, Extreme Geek, Locus Online, May 9, 2009.

... I give away all my books as free, Creative Commons-licensed e-books the same day they go on sale in stores, on the grounds that for most people, a free e-book is more apt to entice them to buy the print book than to substitute for it.

But there's a small minority mostly other geeks for whom the e-book is all they want, and who, nevertheless, want to see the writers they enjoy compensated (bless 'em!). They write to me with some variation on, "Can't I just send you a donation?" And my answer has always been no, because:

  1. I don't want to have to bookkeep, file taxes on, and otherwise track your $5;
  2. I don't want to cut my extremely valuable and useful publisher out of the loop;
  3. I don't want to reduce my print-books' sell-through rates (which determine advance sizes, print runs, and bookstore orders).

So, traditionally, I asked my readers to compensate me by donating a book to a school or library or halfway house. ...

Starting with my novel Little Brother, I've been doing something different: I actually provide a matchmaking service to connect donors with willing recipients. ...

Judging from donor e-mails, many of them just gave to the first outstanding request, others looked for requests from their region, and others judged by merit. Some donated several copies as much as 15! As I type this, we've given away well over 200 copies to people who really wanted the book. I got the sales number, my publisher got the sale, the library or school got the material, and the reader got to feel like s/he had paid for the value s/he'd received. ...