Strike by Writers Guild and Amazon Kindle

November 20, 2007

There are two news items that if put together raise an interesting question about how artists should a) distribute their works and b) make money from their works. We suggest artists give away their works on the Internet and use the Internet to receive voluntary payments from their fans.

First the two news stories

  1. The strike by the Writer’s Guild of America continues and AMPTP has agreed to resume talks with the the writer’s guild’s representatives on the 26th of November. How the dispute will be resolved is anybody’s guess.
  2. Amazon released an ebook reader called Kindle. It apparently handles a whole lot of formats and I didn’t see a mention of DRM anywhere.

So if you are a writer and want to make a living from your work you have a choice. You can either write a book, get it published and hope it will reach enough book stores to provide enough sales so that you can make some kind of living. Or you can write a book, a short story, a poem and publish it via the Internet.

A lot of books these days are being sold as PDFs for a discounted price. Interestingly, the distribution of books is not being as tightly controlled by DRM – even the music industry will give up on such models soon. In fact, if we look at most of musicians on MySpace a lot of them are selling their music through CDBaby, PayPlay and other such sites.

A smart writer or a musician will instead give away his writing, music, programming code or anything they create freely on the Internet. This will result in more people reading or hearing your works than you can hope to reach with book stores or iTunes.

But How Will Authors and Musicians Make Money?

Before answering this question we’d like to point out the problem that musicians and writers have these days. Most musicians and writers struggle to get their works read. Utilising the distribution modes that the Internet offers can only be a smart move. Much smarter than trying to sell your poems on the streets.

So how does an artist make money? The answer is simple – patronage. Open as many channels as you can for your fans to show their appreciation, to give something back. That is exactly what we provide with Karmafan. So why aren’t you using it yet?


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