Thursday, January 27, 2011


In response to Tobias Buckell’s post about piracy, I figured I’d post up my random thoughts about it.

I’ve pirated.

Yes, I’ll admit it. The Barbie Girl mp3 way back in the late 90’s was just way too catchy to pass up. There might have been some other music in there, but I’ve since lost it all and can proudly say that 100% of my music I have in iTunes was legally obtained.

What about books? I’ll admit I do have a copy of Robert Jordan’s “Eye of the World” that I found buried in one of my documents folders. I don’t even know when or where I got it. Probably one of those back in the 90’s things when I was young, poor, and didn’t know any better. I do now own the Kindle version as well as a hardback of that book.

I also own a lot of free ebooks, either pdf, epub or kindle that pop up either in forums or through alerts like the Books on the Knob.

I don’t have time to read them all either. Like Tobi brought up in his article, I’m somewhat of a hoarder. If I see something free, I grab it. Though I do have some standards. All those free Christian fiction books I haven’t bothered downloading, and I only grabbed a few of those many free romance books, mostly cause the covers looked hot. I’m a sucker for a Mrs. Claus outfit.

What’s funny is that I’ve read very few of the free books I’ve ever downloaded (all of which were given away for free remember). I only have so much time to read, so what I actually read are books I’ve purchased.

One I did read and loved was “Warbreaker”, which I reviewed on this blog.

That was the first book I’d ever read from Brandon Sanderson. Now I’m a complete BS Fanboy (snicker). I love his works, but wouldn’t have known that until I read one of his books. The free “Warbreaker” download from his website was easy to download, easy to toss my iPad, and sold me very quickly. I had “Way of Kings” pre-ordered on both Kindle and Hardback as soon as I saw them for sale. I’ve also purchased a few of his backlists and got my son hooked on his Alcatraz books. I’ve also rounded out my Wheel of Time collected with his hardback contributions to that wonderful saga.

I’ve also purchased “Warbreaker” on Kindle, even though I already had it for free. It was during a special they had on it, when they reduced the price. I snagged it up to support Brandon and so I had the neat artwork along with the book.

Speaking of artwork, I also paid for and downloaded the “how to paint” series that produced the artwork for Warbreaker.

Brandon made money, the cover artist made money, Robert Jordan’s estate made money, Tor made money, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and a local used bookstore called Bookmans made money. All of that because he had one of his complete works for download on his site.

So I’m counted as part hoarder, part discoverer when it comes to free content online. I actually do plan on getting to all the free titles I download (even the hot romance books), but we’ll see if I ever have time. Currently my Amazon Wishlist for Kindle books is about 560 titles.

Some people might think I’m an aberration, but I don’t think I am. I think a lot of people are like me. I used to not have money, but lots of time, and yes, I got content any way I could. Now that I’m older, have discretionary income, and realize my time is more valuable, I support the authors but also love getting content for free because it allows me to figure out who I like and who I want to support.

With authors, just like music artists, fans become fiercely loyal to their author and will pretty much buy everything that author ever puts out. This is a life-long commitment as long as the author continues to put out great works. I think this is particularly true with fantasy and sci/fi fans.

If in your lifetime you produce 30 books, you could go a long way to building up your fan base by giving away 2-3 of those books away for free. Chances are you’ll find yourself a devoted fan that will buy up the books that you gave away simply to complete their collection.

Now, one thing I have to say regarding giving away: make it easy for the consumer.

I have never downloaded any book that required me to join a newsletter, or put in my email address, no matter how compelling the content is. If that’s the case I’ll go into Amazon and add the book to my wish list and get to it later, much later.

It is a huge turn off. People like to stay anonymous. If you have a opt-in mailing list on your site to tell me when new content is coming out, great. If I’m a fan, I might sign up for it, but I won’t sign up just to get a free article or book. Keep strings off your free content, you’ll get more people to view it, and more eyes on your content means more eventual sales.

Those are my thoughts from a reader point of view, I’ll post up later using my view of a hopeful-author.

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