World Transformation: Free books sell better
 Free books sell better
6 May 2004 @ 09:14, by ming

From Ming the Mechanic: Doc Searls:
Eric Raymond: How webbing books doesn't hurt sales. Interesting stuff about "identity goods" among other relevant arcana.

Data: Cluetrain continues to sell at Amazon (listed at that link as #928) while the whole thing is online as well.
I hope the principles behind this become very public and widespread common sense. It not only doesn't hurt sales to give a book away on the net, it probably helps them. And the same applies to other media. Anyway, here's some of what Eric Raymond says:
"My four books do not a controlled experiment make, but the thirteen years of experience with simultaneous print and Web publication that I've had suggests that Web availability has boosted the sales of the print versions tremendously. And my publishers agree. Even in 1991 I didn't get resistance from MIT press, and Addison-Wesley was positively supportive of putting my most most recent one on the Web.

I'm one of a handful of technical-book writers who publishers treat like rock stars, because I have a large fan base and my name on a cover will sell a book in volumes that are exceptional for its category (for comparison my editor at AW mentions Bruce Eckel as another). I'm not certain my experience generalizes to authors who aren't rock stars. On the other hand, it's more than possible that I'm a rock star largely because I have been throwing my stuff on the Web since 1991. It's even likely — after all, I was next to an unknown when I edited The New Hacker's Dictionary."
Making your stuff easily and widely available is a great way of becoming known, and a great way of becoming somebody who's work sells well. It shouldn't even be any kind of surprise.


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