Well, that’s great for a band . . .

Anyone who reads Techdirt regularly will recognize many of the themes here, particularly those dealing with making money in an industry where it doesn’t make sense to charge for your content.  And every time they post about another band succeeding with a new business model, I try and imagine how that model could be applied to writers and books with any degree of consistency.

So far I’ve been frustrated.  Certianly there are opportunities for authors as we move into an age of reading digital books instead of paper ones, but I have yet to see or hear or imagine any model where authors will be compensated for their work at a level that will allow them to live while giving away electronic versions of all their work.  That is not to say that it can’t happen, or won’t, but it means that there is more work to be done, and it means that there is tremendous opportunity for someone who can solve the problem.

There is no question that people will continue to write if they aren’t being paid.  Thousands of fan-fiction sites, Nanowrimo, and any number of other groups, online and off, demonstrate that people like to write for themselves, or just for the sake of writing.

But if we can’t figure out how to pay writers enough to do it full-time, the quality of the writing will go down.  Sure, Nanowrimo has shown that one can write a substantial piece of fiction in a short time.  But to get something equal in quality to your average published novel takes more than a month.  And books like that will be hard to come by if no one can quit their day job and write full-time.

So readers and writers alike are in this boat together, in need of a new plan to compensate writers when people finally realize that it doesn’t make sense to pay for something you can copy instantly and perfectly, as many times as you want.

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