Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Round 'em Up! (In the Digital Corral)

Free e-books for the Amazon Kindle "sell" like hotcakes, don't they? (as of this writing, 3 of the top ten Kindle books and 7 of the top twenty were "free" downloads) Too bad writers and publishers are shooting themselves in the proverbial foot by making content free/cheap for the device.

What am I talking about?

Read this recent article by Daniel Lyons (from the June 15, 2009 Newsweek). (the comments are fantastic, too)

Here is my fear: publishers/writers/other "content creators" list books/etc. for free/cheap with the intention of driving up readership (building the ol' fanbase)...but inadvertently giving consumers more incentive to buy a Kindle (look at all this free stuff I can download!). The Kindle becomes the iPod of the e-book revolution (yeah, I know, what revolution?) If a writer wants his/her content to be read, Amazon sets the price; "content creators" lose. Publishers...they lose, too.

I'm not into playing Chicken Little; I'm just trying to read the digital writing on the bathroom wall.

Maybe I should have stayed in DeVry...learned to write some code...developed into a "gatekeeper".

Here's the truth: Personally, I don't care who is taking the money; "creators"--save those blessed few who conquer the world--have always received peanuts for their work. Creators have always "lost" at this game. But here's a little something to turn your mental gears--the scops that sang about Beowulf? While we don't know their names, we are still telling their stories.

To me, that means more than a fistful of dollars.


Jamie Eyberg said...

I am not a fan of unions, but this makes the idea of a writers union more attractive to me. Somehow we have to band together because going it alone isn't working.

Aaron Polson said...

Unions can get out of hand, but this is the kind of reason they exist.

Brendan P. Myers said...

I've got so much to say on this that I typed and retyped, started and stopped a dozen comments into this space before giving up.

So I'll just say this:

It amazes me how folks who'll spend $400 bucks on a gadget can be so . . . frugal . . . when it comes to buying the stuff that actually makes it work.

K.C. Shaw said...

I've downloaded a few free ebooks onto my Sony, but I've bought more books than ones I got free. What really burns me is the way publishers seem dead-set on keeping most content out of digital entirely, yet they give away a few select titles. I'm more than happy to pay a reasonable price for ebooks, I don't have to have them for free. But for gawd's sake, make the dang things available!

BT said...

I still think the e-book evolution will come when someone builds a good device and practically gives it away - and charges reasonable amounts for the content.

I hear lots of rumors of devices in the works, so it's coming. I just hope they include the rest of the world this time...