Start the year with a great read

1 Jan

by Mike Hansen

It’s not comics, but it applies to comics as much as text books: Here’s a fantastic, award-winning essay on copyright and piracy, and how modern technology will make books as easy to copy and share as music and movies. (Don’t fear the length: it’s a smooth, fast read.)

Here’s a taste:

Neil Gaiman thinks that releasing a free digital copy of American Gods (2001) increased sales by three hundred per cent, and he no longer fears piracy. ‘It’s people lending books. And you can’t look at that as a lost sale,’ he says. ‘What you’re actually doing is advertising. You’re reaching more people. You’re raising awareness … And I think, basically, that’s an incredibly good thing.’ But he doesn’t know. Cory Doctorow says half a million free downloads of his Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (2003) helped the book through five physical print runs. ‘Giving away books costs me nothing, and actually makes me money,’ he says. Maybe he knows. There is a growing body of anecdotal evidence. But nobody really knows whether that kind of strategy will work for all books and all authors, or whether it will work for long.

Most comics get scanned and uploaded to the internet as soon as they’re released, but a digital screen (even a tablet) is still not preferable in most cases. Comixology and other services have developed some workarounds for the unusual size and shape of comics pages and panels, but few comics are optimized for digital viewing – at least, for now. The future’s going to be very interesting indeed…

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