The Price of Cory Doctorow's New Book? You Decide.

| 10/21/2009 2:08:23 PM

Cory Doctorow in office

How much money did your favorite writer make off that last book? You have no idea, right? With his next book, science fiction writer, copyright activist, and Utne Reader visionary Cory Doctorow is heading the demands of nobody (who ever demands financial transparency from writers?) and publishing every dime he earns in a column at Publishers Weekly. The transparency piece is intriguing enough, and it's just one piece of an ambitious publishing experiment:

Here's the pitch: the book is called With a Little Help. It's a short story collection ... Like my other collections, it will be available for free on the day it is released. And like my last collection, Overclocked, it won't have a traditional publisher ... Doctors swear an oath to do no harm. For this project, I've taken an oath to lose no money ... In the ideal world, every object I make available will either cost nothing to produce or will be physically instantiated only after it has been ordered and paid for. With this in mind, let me run down the packages.

The run down is lengthy but worth a look. Here's the elevator version:

+ Free E-Book

+ Free Audiobook

+ Donations

+ Print-on-Demand trade paperback

+ Premium hardcover edition

+ Commission a new story: $10,000

+ Advertisements 

Many of these tactics are not new for Doctorow. He's been giving away e-books for free since 2003. This is where the transparency piece comes in. Doctorow explains:

This business of my giving away e-books is a controversial subject. I encounter plenty of healthy skepticism in my travels, and not a little bile. There's a lot of people who say I'm pulling a fast one, that I'd be making more money if I didn't do this crazy liberal copyright stuff, or that I'm the only one it'll ever work for, or that I secretly make all my money from doing stuff that isn't writing, or that it only works because I'm so successful. Of course, when I started, they said it only worked because I was so unknown. People want proof that this works—that I'm not deluded or a con artist.

In a recent interview with Utne Reader Doctorow spoke succinctly to the non-believers: "Of all the people who fail to buy my books today, the majority do so because they’ve never heard of them, not because someone gave them a free e-book."

Source: Publishers Weekly

Image by Paula Mariel Salischiker , licensed under Creative Commons.

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