Friday, May 20, 2005


Scalzi on Writing in the Age of Piracy

I've been following with interest John Scalzi's recent posts concerning fears among segments of the genre writing community concerning digital "piracy" of their work, all of which I've found extremely cogent and enlightening. The old Clockwork Storybook site followed a model very similar to the "Penny Arcade" loss-leader model that Scalzi outlines in this recent post, and it was one that I blagged about at length and great volume for years. Unfortunately for CWSB, we never quite reached the tipping point, and the size of our audience never grew large enough that sales of merchandise, novels, and collections were a sufficient return on investment. I think it can be a successful model, but I think the success to failure rate is probably just as dire, if not more so, than any other more traditional publishing model. I've been toying with the idea of dipping my toes in those waters again, and may end up doing so before too much longer. I've been intrigued by things like Scalzi's serializing Old Man's War on his blog, or Cory Doctorow releasing his novels under Creative Commons license in digital formats, and I think that the coming years will hold some interesting and potentially exciting development for writers.

Probably the most cogent statement in Scalzi's most recent post on the topic is this, which I found particularly insightful:

"Listen to me now: Writers are not in the publishing industry. The publishing industry exists to handle the output of writers and distribute it in an effective and hopefully profitable way; however it does not necessarily follow that writer's only option is the publishing industry, especially not now. Congruent to this: Books aren't the only option. I write books, but you know what? I'm not a book writer, any more than a musician is an LP musician or an MP3 musician. The book is the container. It's not destiny. "

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