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Archive for Friday, November 26, 2010

Educator embraces idea of free books online

November 26, 2010

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After online pirates swiped Chris McKitterick’s first novel and made it available for free online, the Kansas University teacher took swift action.

He made it available for download himself.

McKitterick had listened to blogger and digital freedom activist Cory Doctorow talk in Lawrence last year about how he had plans to give away his books for free, so McKitterick thought, “Why not?”

McKitterick is a part-time teacher of English at KU who teaches science fiction writing and technical writing, and is associate director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction.

“The worst thing that can happen to a book, especially for a new novelist, is for nobody to know about it,” McKitterick said.

So he hopped on a national trend. Doctorow and others have begun to offer books for free as a way to market them effectively to the public. McKitterick asks for donations online, but he said probably no more than 2 percent of people donate. Some offer small amounts, though, and one person even paid the full hardcover price as a donation, he said.

He, of course, had to clear it with his publisher first.

“We’re a small press and we like to experiment,” said Eric T. Reynolds of Hadley Rille Books, which published the novel. “I think a lot of people will still want to buy a printed book.”

It’s a much different way of marketing than his traditional methods, which include book signings, a web and social media presence and a minimal amount of advertising, he said.

The science fiction book “Transcendence” is available at McKitterick’s website, sff.net/people/mckitterick/Me/Transcendence1.htm. Like its author, the book addresses current online trends.

It’s about a near-future world in which social networking and Facebook have progressed to the point where humans rarely interact anymore.

Comments

stelb 3 years, 4 months ago

funny to predict the end of cultural life, because a handful authors (yet) release their books electronically for free. you might also remember that culture started with sharing. you would not remember much of the greeks if they had not shared it. also funny to think electronic versions can really compete with printed editions...

are you scared of bookstores, where you can read any book they have for free? and as a plus, you get a coffee and some discussion if you like. is this putting culture at risk? are public libraries a risk for culture? i don't think so. i buy the printed books i like to read anywhere i like. and i bought books, i started reading online or books that someone lend to me. not all, but a lot. and a digital version is a plus i really appreciate for lots of reasons.

and the ones, who rely on free reading, probably won't buy the book anyway. but they might give someone a hint about a good book and this will possibly be a buyer.

it's just a different way of marketing.

anyway. culture won't die. i am sure about that.

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bearded_gnome 3 years, 4 months ago

“The worst thing that can happen to a book, especially for a new novelist, is for nobody to know about it,” McKitterick said.

So he hopped on a national trend. Doctorow and others have begun to offer books for free as a way to market them effectively to the public. McKitterick asks for donations online, but he said probably no more than 2 percent of people donate. Some offer small amounts, though, and one person even paid the full hardcover price as a donation, he said.

---so, part time prof is just writing off (forgive the pun) making any money on this book?

sure it sounds good: post the book free online.

but what happens in a world where writers/book authors cannot expect to make money on their writing?

well ... let's see.
... fewer people will write, less creativity. fewer people work to become actual writers.

and hint to ljworld: please followup this article with a real article considering the big issues of intellectual property rights!

IP is a very serious issue here; and the electronic communication is changing it dramatically.

plus there's the issue of access to text for people who cannot read the printed word, i.e. dyslexics and blind. here, take note of the Google books court proceedings.
electronic texts are very exciting for these groups, but again IP is the top bone of contention. authors' groups have resisted much of this, for their own protection.

given our community, LJW you really should followup on this story!

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