Cory Doctorow is someone who’s thought a lot about whether the traditional ways we do things in publishing are the only way. But he doesn’t just pontificate about it, he puts his money where his mouth is, experimenting with his own paycheque. If he succeeds, he has proof of concept of a new sort of marketplace. If he fails, it’s back to the drawing board.
For his Little Brother follow-up, For the Win, Doctorow decided to use a Creative Commons License. Digital copies are available as a free download at his Web Site, under multiple formats. Under the terms of the license, anyone can do pretty much whatever they want to with the text, and then re-release it, as long as they aren’t charging money for it. In this way, fan-made releases under every kind of format, for every kind of device, including, most recently, this audio version podcast, are available to everyone. And, if you enjoy it, just send a little donation Mr. Doctorow’s way. No obligation, though.
Doctorow’s even more recent release, the collection, With a Little Help, also comes with free digital downloads (again with a “pay what you want” policy), but he’s also trying to cut out the middleman for his physical editions, utilizing print on demand, and acting as his own publicist and agent and publisher. He describes this whole ongoing experiment at his Publisher’s Weekly blog, here.
I loved Little Brother, so I think I’ll be checking out that podcast. I’ll try to think of a fair payment to give him in return.