Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Review of The Problem Isn’t Piracy, The Problem Is Obscurity by Cory Doctorow


Science fiction writer and entrepreneurial whiz kid Cory Doctorow has long been at the forefront of the wide swathe the digital era has been cutting through the literary world. In this (free, natch) pdf, Jon Bard of The Children’s Book Insider has compiled seven prefaces from Doctorow’s novels and two articles, explaining Doctorow’s revolutionary approach to copyright and e-books.

In them, Doctorow offers razor-sharp insights on his reasons for using a Creative Commons copyright on all his books. This liberal copyright allows readers to reproduce his work ad infinitum with only a few restrictions. Chief among his reasons for doing so is the spot-on point that copyright laws were created to protect writers and publishers from other publishers—not from their customers.

His second major point—that the best way to sell print books is to give away the e-versions—is important reading as well, although it’s lost a bit of its steam in the midst of the digital revolution. So many authors are now going completely digital with their writing that the applicability of giving away e-books will be of more interest to traditionally published authors, whose print books still account for the majority of their sales. Still, no matter which side of the digital fence you find yourself currently sitting on, Doctorow’s insights are worthwhile and, I would even go so far as to say, essential for any author facing down this brave new publishing frontier in which we find ourselves.
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