Open publishing – A wider context

The temptation when you’re looking at a topic of open publishing is to focus on the case studies of people and publishers who are making works available online for reuse, but it’s really important to take a look at the wider context within which writers, publishers and booksellers are working and related issues such as DRM and piracy (which I will also address at length in another post). You can’t consider open publishing in a vacuum, despite the temptation to focus in on just that one area, otherwise you get just a fraction of the story.

Tim O’Reilly has a really fascinating and detailed post which does just that. He talks about the things he’s learnt being both a writer and a publisher. His lessons are:

  • Lesson 1: Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.
  • Lesson 2: Piracy is progressive taxation.
  • Lesson 3: Customers want to do the right thing, if they can.
  • Lesson 4: Shoplifting is a bigger threat than piracy.
  • Lesson 5: File sharing networks don’t threaten book, music, or film publishing. They threaten existing publishers.
  • Lesson 6: “Free” is eventually replaced by a higher-quality paid service.
  • Lesson 7: There’s more than one way to do it.

Tim examines each of these lessons in detail, but rather than attempt a summary, I recommend that you go and read his post and get it straight from the horse’s mouth.

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