05 September 2008

Sharing is Part of the Human Condition

I missed this when it first came out, but it's too good not to er, share:

“Since the dawn of time, human beings have felt the need to share - from food to art. Sharing is part of the human condition. A person who does not share is not only selfish, but bitter and alone,” Coelho told TorrentFreak, explaining why he decided to share his books for free.

And he should know:

Paulo Coelho, the best-selling author of “The Alchemist”, is using BitTorrent and other filesharing networks as a way to promote his books. His publishers weren’t too keen on giving away free copies of his books, so he’s taken matters into his own hands.


Andrew Katz said...

It's interesting that he mentions e-book readers. I for one can't wait to get my hands on the new Sony reader: by all accounts it's easy to read and use, and will accept open formats (.txt and .pdf, which it will reflow apparently).

Yes - I'm a book fetishist, but I'm pretty sure I can be converted to e-book reading, so that (1) I can reclaim vast quantities of space in my house; (2) I can search the text of my books; and (3) I can take one fewer suitcase on holiday with me.

If (when!) these devices become ubiquitious, and text becomes as free as an MP3, the question is what value the author can add in other areas to earn a crust. For musicians, they can perform live (I was at a Fionn Regan gig in London last night - in fact there were 5 other acts playing, ticket price was £12, and you even get free soda water - what a bargain!).

I can't see personal book readings by the authors reaching the same level of popularity (although I'd be happy to be proven wrong - and maybe the Latitude Festival demonstrates this in embryonic form).

Coehlo's model works just fine when there is a reasonable percentage of people who will buy the books. I'm just hoping that it continues to stack up once this percentage dwindles.

glyn moody said...

Well, as an author, I'm not too worried.

First, books are different entities from e-books, as I'm sure you feel. E=books are convenient, but hard to snuggle down with.

Secondly, as more and more stuff becomes free, I think people will consciously choose to pay in order to support the ecosystem. I already do this with some sites that provide good stuff for free: I want them to continue doing so, and therefore choose to pay for even more stuff.

Andrew Katz said...

Hmm. Yes, I agree that books are wonderful objects, but then again, so are 12" LPs. Convenience will out, I'm afraid. Ebook readers will get better and better...

(Plus, Google Books' search facility is a real boon when you are reading a - paper - novel and you get a bit confused by a plot development and try to find an earlier key passage in the book to explain it - and I'd LOVE to have that facility integrated into the e-book. Colour and sound I would happily do without).

Free/open source software works commercially, because enterprises want to pay for warranties, indemnities and support.

The music industry will work (albeit in a different way) because people are prepared to pay good money to listen to live bands, and there are other ways of
making money, like merchandising.

I'm not sure that hoping that people will voluntarily pay to support the ecosystem will necessarily work.

I'm just a little concerned that the means of generating revenue which apply to FLOSS and music may not be as applicable to creators of the written word.

I just don't want you to go hungry, Glyn! Or, more selfishly, I want to ensure that there is sufficient incentive for authors to continue to write.

By the way, if you open a Glyn Moody merch store, let me know. I'll be happy to buy a t-shirt or two.

glyn moody said...

Well, it's kind of you to offer to buy one of my fabled anti-penury T-shirts, but luckily there's another reason why we don't need to worry about starving artists in garrets: they do it because they have an inner compulsion to do so.

Indeed, most writers would do it even if they had to pay for the privilege...and the ones that wouldn't probably aren't worth reading anyway...