05 September 2007

Cory Doctorow on Free E-Books

There was quite a dust-up recently in the SF writers community when a VP of the SFWA sent a take-down notice to an e-text website and, in a rather bogus manner, invoked the DMCA. If you need background on the situation, author John Scalzi has a good summary.

However, one of the authors the SFWA VP claimed to represent is Cory Doctorow, who open sources all his fiction and lets anyone distribute and share it on a non-commercial basis. Doctorow has also "expressly forbidden SFWA from representing him in matters of copyright." (Scalzi article). This was not a smart move on the SFWA's part. Cory Doctorow has, in the hugely popular website/blog boingboing, one of the largest bully pulpits on the Internet and he's not afraid to use it.

Now Doctorow has published the thoughtful essay Free(konomic) E-books on the topic of giving away free, electronic copies of his works that is well worth reading:
Many of us have assumed, a priori, that electronic books substitute for print books. While I don't have controlled, quantitative data to refute the proposition, I do have plenty of experience with this stuff, and all that experience leads me to believe that giving away my books is selling the hell out of them.

Update: SF author Jerry Pournelle offers his take on this in his Sept. 4 column at Chaos Manor Reviews. He disagrees with Doctorow on a number of points, but you gotta give Pournelle props - he's been at this game a long time.

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