Conventional wisdom (and mothers concerned about their daughters’ virtue) holds that if you give something away for free, you’ll never find someone to actually pay you for it. That is so clearly not the case in the e-publishing world that it seems almost suicidally pigheaded to hew to that line of reasoning.
This morning, Jane and I sat with longtime client, author Joe Konrath, at Coffee Shop on Union Square for a very early breakfast. As usual, the waitresses were rude and inattentive and the coffee only okay. But, I digress. Some of you might know Joe as one of the founding fathers of the electronic self-publishing movement. He is also a very smart man who made it a point to educate himself about traditional publishing prior to heading out into the then uncharted e-book waters. He is an evangelist who knows whereof he speaks, whatever your opinion on what he has to say.
Anyhow, we were talking about file sharing and free content and the subject of Go the F**k to Sleep came up. The book is, of course, a publishing phenomenon. Currently #4 on Amazon on the basis of pre-orders alone, film rights are already sold and an article about it in New York magazine this week attempts to analyze what particular nerve it’s struck for harried parents. The book is putting Akashic Books, a small Brooklyn independent publisher on the map.
The interesting thing about this story is that this 34-page book has already been read by, well, everyone. The .pdf was leaked weeks ago and went viral so fast it was back in your in-box before you’d sent it out to all your friends. It’s funny that the e-version is just now being announced. Did I mention that everyone has already read this on their computers?
To me, this only supports the theory that offering free content and file sharing is a good idea in order to get people to buy books. Yes? No? Maybe in certain cases but not others? What do you all say?