Cory Doctorow has an amazing essay in Forbes, called Giving It Away. Concerned with how giving away electronic copies of books drives sales of printed copies, it’s a clear and amazing set of thoughts on the current publishing world.
I’m particularly caught up in publishing issues right now, given that I’m negotiating with a publisher for publication of a book. I wonder if I sent them a copy of this essay it could possibly make a difference….
from the essay:
The thing about an e-book is that it’s a social object. It wants to be copied from friend to friend, beamed from a Palm device, pasted into a mailing list. It begs to be converted to witty signatures at the bottom of e-mails. It is so fluid and intangible that it can spread itself over your whole life. Nothing sells books like a personal recommendation–when I worked in a bookstore, the sweetest words we could hear were “My friend suggested I pick up….” The friend had made the sale for us, we just had to consummate it. In an age of online friendship, e-books trump dead trees for word of mouth.