How He Learned To Stop Worrying And Think About The Future

June 1st, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

John Scalzi (Old Man’s War) has some thoughts about book piracy. Yes, it’s a real threat (as we’ve seen this week). Yes, new technologies are going to make piracy easier than ever before. Yes, he needs to take it into consideration.

But he’s also a new author trying to sell his first novel to the public. This, as we all know, is harder than it should be. He starts by wondering what’s so bad about the Amazon sneak peek program. Let’s face it — readers can stand in front of the shelves in a bookstore and skim your entire novel just as easily (actually more easily) as they can flip through pages at Amazon. Capturing a reader’s attention is the first step in the bookselling battle.

If we take the example of Cory Doctorow, and why not?, we know that sometimes giving it away for free can lead to decent sales. Anyone who wants a copy of Doctorow’s books can download them. Not surprisingly, lots of people want to buy the book. We’ve long theorized that the proliferation of music piracy has less to do with a desire to, uh, steal music than it does with the fact that music industry makes it really hard to get what you want, how you want it.

Scalzi’s right to think about creative ways to promote his work. Piracy is a real threat. But authors who let fear of technology rule their promotional efforts probably won’t have to worry about it much — we can all guess why.

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