For Christmas, my husband bought himself a ‘Kindle’. He’s an avid reader, often getting through three or four books a week, so the Kindle is a very easy way to feed his habit. No longer does he have to trek to town to the library to change his books. He just downloads what he wants and off he goes. It’s light too, so no matter how big the book, he’s not going to hurt his nose if it drops on him when he falls asleep while reading in bed.
At first I was a bit miffed about this contraption. After all, if people are downloading cheap books from the internet, how are authors making any money? But then I realised that they’re probably not losing out at all. P doesn’t buy a lot of new books. As I said, he used the library. But if he found an author he really loved, he would be tempted to pick up a new one if he happened to be in a bookshop (which happens fairly regularly too.) Paulo Coelho is an author who has taken this idea a step further. When he found a pirate site giving free downloads of his writing, he embraced it. Quite rightly, I think, he realised that if people enjoyed his writing, they would seek out more and he would, in fact, sell more books.
The same thing applies to musical clips on Youtube. When I find a singer or composer that interests me, I hunt them up on Youtube. If I find that I like what’s there, then I’ll go looking for their CDs. Some of the clips are really badly recorded on mobile phone cameras from the back of a dark hall, but they give just enough of a glimpse to whet the appetite. My CD collection has grown quite a lot since I started checking out Youtube, so the musicians are actually benefiting from these illicit videos. In fact, I know at least one singer who puts links to Youtube clips on his Facebook page.
How do you feel about it? Would you be upset to find your writing (with your name) on a free download site, or would you consider it to be free advertising? I can't be the only person, can I, who wants to buy CDs and books to ensure that my favourite musicians and writers continue to use their talents?