Thursday, December 13, 2007

Crossover Dreams: Turning Free Web Work Into Real Book Sales

Crossover Dreams: Turning Free Web Work Into Real Book Sales

This is an intensely interesting article for two reasons. The first follows this quote from the article. "That a book derived from free online content has sold so well may allay
some fears that giving something away means nobody will want to pay for
it." Umm has anyone heard of Radiohead; anybody? Obviously this is slightly different but blogs amass their own cult following which evolves into what essentially is a fan base that will support that blog. If the blog is good enough, as Radiohead is good enough, the content put out by that blog will be support in other mediums. To paraphrase Thom Yorke's quote in a NYT article several months ago, people are willing to pay what they think the item is worth.
The second interesting thing that follows is a second quote, just below the one above. "I think books are still things, thank goodness, that people want to
own,” said Michael Jacobs, chief executive of Abrams. “The package of
the book and the way it feels is something apart and separate from
being able to read it online." Perhaps; but the people who bought this book are growing toward an increasing minority. What is not answered is here is why people want to own books. according to the last line of the article is an olfactory reason: “There’s nothing like holding the weight and smelling the paper.” Well if you want weight and smell I would suggest purchasing a ream of paper and smelling away.
It's the content of the book that is selling not the packaging. The original contents were posted on blogs and turned out to be fantastic so the transition to a marketable, purchasable item is not far off. This continues to parallel the Radiohead model. Radiohead introduce their songs for In Rainbows to concert audiences who immediately bootlegged them so that fans started coming to these shows already knowing the songs. Radiohead went into the studio and completely redid some of these works; see recent NYT article below.
Content is what matters not the smell.

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