Reading a new book is like checking in to a cheap hotel in a foreign city: you plan to spend a lot of time in there, but have no real idea how happy you will be until you've staked your money. Unlike music (which you can hear on the radio or at your friend's house) or even the movies (where you often see a trailer), it's often difficult to tell if you are going to like a new book unless you are lucky enough have the time to sit in a bookshop and read a chapter or two first.Sean Dodson on the Guardian blog puts forward an excellent case for authors giving away digital copies of their work. He talks about how Paul Coelho* sent sales figures stratospheric by indulging in a little "self-piracy", setting up a blog, Pirate Coelho, with links to sites where readers could download his stuff for free.
Another example Dodson mentions is that of Canadian science-fiction writer Cory Doctorow who:
... has circulated tens of thousands of electronic editions of his novels and short stories, and it has helped to send his sales soaring ...Well, closer to home, we know that although Awang Goneng's content is all up on his blog for us to read for free, the print book is seeing excellent sales.
There's something to be learned here, for sure.
*Incidentally, like Dodson, I couldn't finish The Alchemist and gave my copy away. All that pre-digested wisdom stuck in my throat.
Cerri Radford on the Telegraph blog writes about the rampant online-ness of Paul Coelho who blogs, Flickrs and Facebooks:
Which is a wonderful phenomenon, of course. But of all the authors in the world to want to interact with us, did it have to be this one?