Monday, June 27, 2005

Buying the Cow, Though the Milk Is Free: Why Some Publishers Are Digitizing Themselves

June 24, 2005
By Anna Weinberg

On June 19, Cory Doctorow announced on his blog that his third novel, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, had just been published by Tor Books. More interestingly, he also announced that the entire text of the book, like the text of his two previous novels, was available online under copyright terms that allow the “unlimited, noncommercial redistribution of the text.” While major publishing houses are digging in for a long fight with Google over making digital versions of books available online (in partial, “fair use” excerpts), Doctorow invites his readers to “send around, paste it into a chat, beam it to a friend's PDA, or print out a chapter to hand out in the university common room.” Further, through the terms of Doctorow’s Creative Commons license, people in developing nations are free to sell print versions of the book for their own profit—as long as they sell them only in developing nations.

Not that Doctorow is opposed to commercial success—he derides “fuzzy-headed ‘information-wants-to-be-free’ info-hippies” on his website In fact, he makes it very clear that he considers the release of the entire text of his books into the wilds of the Internet to be first and foremost a marketing tool. “From where I sit as a mid-list writer struggling to break in and break out, this has been a good thing for me,” he says. Doctorow’s first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, has been downloaded from his website half-a-million times. “If every one of those were a sale, this would be one of the bestselling sci-fi books of all time,” he says.

Read the rest of the article at the above link to The Book Standard, a site that is bookmark worthy.

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