Lessons in Intellectual Property Commerce

A lot of people have written to ask why I don’t simply offer my books for free. Of course, that wouldn’t sit well with my publishers, but it brings up other concerns as well. Unfortunately, a lot of people take my books for free even though they aren’t offered that way. Joe finds that he likes my book and gives a copy of his e-book to Sally, who reads it and gives it to Andy. Only the first copy is actually paid for. It’s a problem because I have bills to pay, just like everyone else. So, the price you pay for a book helps (in small part) to keep me writing the books that continue to help you remain productive and to learn really cool new technologies.

I read with interest about some artists offering their works online on a “pay what you want” basis or literally for free. The hope was that this form of distribution would build interest in the person’s offering (book, music, video, art, or whatever else you can imagine), so that the artist could eventually earn income in other ways. It’s not working out very well. I read with interest a story entitled, “Taylor Swift vs. Spotify: Why Music Should Not Be Free” in PC Magazine. The article rambles a little, but the arguments it makes against free intellectual property are compelling. The bottom line is that artists of all stripes need to eat. More importantly, the people who support the artists need to eat as well.

There have been all sorts of efforts to force people to pay for content in this digital age. They’ve all been unsuccessful in generating more income and have served only to cause problems for the artists. What it comes down to is that you need to decide that you want quality content to enjoy—whether that content is written, heard as music, seen as video, or presented in some other form. When I write a book, the book does generate some money for the publisher. However, the book also helps me pay my bills, along with those of the editors who support me. In addition, the money you pay also helps keep bookstores in business. In short, you’re helping to support a lot of people—real people with real needs. This really isn’t about sticking it to some huge corporation out there—it’s a lot more personal than that.

Eventually, you’ll find more quality texts in self-published form, which means that you could get books that I write for a fraction of the price you pay now. However, self-publishing comes with it’s own set of problems that need to be considered. For example, when I start self-publishing material, I’ll have access to fewer editors to help me polish my material and make it the quality product that you’ve come to expect. In addition, I’ll produce less material because now I’ll have to act as my own marketing department as well. My self-published books will only be offered in e-book form unless I contract with a print on demand company (in which case, you’ll end up paying substantially more for the book).

The theft of intellectual property is at an all time high and the problem threatens to become worse, long before it gets better. I need your continued support in order to continue writing the material that you’ve come to expect from me as an author. Of course, I’ll continue to welcome your input about my books and also to provide the free content you’ve come to enjoy in my blog. However, the next time someone offers you a copy of one of my books for free, consider the implications of the act. All it takes a simple no and then a purchase at your local bookstore to help keep me in business. Thank you for your continued help and support.