Also, Michael Jackson is dead.
As every self-respecting internet/book geek should know, Cory Doctorow makes a habit of giving his books away for free online under Creative Commons Licenses online. His latest effort, Makers, is no exception. Makers doesn't come out until Nov 11th 2009 but it will be serialized in 81 parts on Tor.com. A new "chapter" will be released every Mon/Weds/Fri.
Now Doctorow isn't stupid. He knows that internet downloads translate to paper sales. There is a reason why the 81st chapter of this book is coming out 27 weeks from now in Jan 2010 AFTER the physical copy hits shelves. There are 3 important groups of people in his financial equations.
1) People who like physical books are going to buy the physical book whether its online or not.
2) People who like the story are going to read the first two thirds of the book online and then want the resolution as soon as it is available so they buy the book online
3) People who were never going to buy the book whether it was free online or not. They might read it or they might not.
So Doctorow has got the guaranteed sales from group #1 (which includes myself) and he won't get any sales from group #3.
If he offers the book online, he picks up sales from group #2 who might or might not have bought the book. Plus a couple of people from group 3 might read his book for free, like it, and talk about it. There are also still a few honest people in this world that will buy the physical book to support the author even after they have finished it online.
If he doesn't do this, he still picks up group #1 but no one reads the sample chapters and Doctorow has no additional sales from group #2 or recommendations from group #3.
Also, Tor.com is a young site but it seems to be putting out quality content on a frequent basis so it's reader base has to be growing if not already substantial.
Doctorow just guaranteed a free ad for his book on their front page every Mon/Wed/Fri for the next 6 months. Anyone who visits Tor.com in that time span is going to be aware of his new book.
It will be interesting to see when the remainder of the formats that typically accompany a Cory Doctorow book will be released. I do think that offering the book for free as a finished ebook will cannibalize views from Tor.com but I don't know if that is a concern.
As for myself, I might sample a few of the early sections to get a feel for the novel but I will most certainly be buying it. I'm not a huge fan of reading online and I enjoy a story better when I can immerse myself in it and read it at my own pace rather than having it portioned out to me in bite-sized chunks.
Makers tells the story of a group of hardware hackers who fall in with microfinancing venture capitalists and reinvent the American economy after a total economic collapse, and who find themselves swimming with sharks, fighting with gangsters, and leading a band of global techno-revolutionaries. The first 50,000 words of Makers were serialized on Salon some years ago under the title Themepunks.
Sounds like something straight up Doctorow's alley.
Here's the full story from on Tor.com
Part 1 (of 81) of Makers
So which group do you fall into?