In this blog, I've been following the topic of giving away content - not that there is a single answer, but because we all need to understand the dynamics. And now there's another view at The Long Tail
. Chris Anderson, who wrote the book about the concept of selling small amounts to target audiences, actually refers to a commentary from Dilbert cartoonist and author Scott Adams
in last week's Wall Street Journal. (Atually, you should read the Adams piece itself, as it has insight from direct experience and is funny, to boot. If you don't have a WSJ subscription, try finding this at your local public library.) Here's a particularly important passage:
A few years ago I tried an experiment where I put the entire text of my book, "God's Debris," on the Internet for free, after sales of the hard copy and its sequel, "The Religion War" slowed. My hope was that the people who liked the free e-book would buy the sequel. According to my fan mail, people loved the free book. I know they loved it because they emailed to ask when the sequel would also be available for free. For readers of my non-Dilbert books, I inadvertently set the market value for my work at zero. Oops.
In other words, giving away free content doesn't always help a writer, photographer, cartoonist, graphic artist, or other creative, though sometimes it does. As Adams writes, "Free is more complicated than you think." Understanding the new market dynamics is going to take a lot of experimentation and consideration - and a lot of discussion among those of us in these industries. The minute I think I have the obvious and easy answer is the minute I should figure that I'm definitely not getting it.
Labels: content, free, Internet, online, Scott Adams