Archives » January 12th, 2003

January 12, 2003

Practicing what you preach

It’s nice to see someone have faith in their ideals and actually follow through with them. Here’s the details:

Cory Doctorow (of BoingBoing) has just written his first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. And, like most novels, you can run down to your local Barnes & Noble to pick up a copy, or sign on to Amazon and have one sent to you. But, even though the book is in print and presumably both he and his publisher want to make a profit, there is another distribution channel for his book. You can also go to the book’s website,, and download the entire text of the novel for free. And it’s not in some obscure eBook format or time-protected or any of that jazz. You can download it in PDF, HTML, or even plain text. Why would he do that?!

He does it because he trusts his own ideals. He does it because he’s long said that if people really like and want something, like a book or a CD, they’ll be willing to pay for it — even if it’s available for free. He trusts his audience. It’s the same idea that James Lileks had when he made a book out of his website, and then left the website up and running. It’s in the same vein as PayPal or Amazon donation buttons on websites — people will pay if they like what they see. And if people like a book, they’ll especially be willing to pay for a professionally printed and bound version that can sit on their coffee table or bookshelf. Cory might even end up selling more copies of his book, since he’s not asking people to pay anything up front. He’s betting everything on the marketing buzz having a free download will generate. Get people reading it first, get them hooked, and make them want to buy it. Is this the future of publishing? Can it work? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, and hope he creates a good enough example that other authors will follow his lead.

More at Wired News and Creative Commons.