Booze for free PDF – Should everything be free?
Everything should be free is an argument that the internet has most certainly perpetuated. Authors Neil Gaiman and Paulo Coelho both agree to a certain extent, but does that mean its curtains for less established writers? Should Booze for free PDF be free?
When Booze for Free was released back in September 2011 I felt proud to have helped people help themselves to a cheaper and boozier existence. Myself and the publisher worked hard to keep the price low too, so that it was accessible to more people. Indeed, within days of release some internet sites were selling it for practically half price, a bargain indeed.
Cheap or even free is good and Most of my public work, including my latest book Booze for Free, has been about getting things very cheaply or for free. The Selfsufficientish ethos was and is geared around doing as much as you can for yourself whilst consuming the least amount of resources. I enjoy being part of this movement as there are many things I believe should be free. Gathering herbs to enhance food or for medicine, picking fruit in from the wild, growing your own vegetables or making your own booze are a few things that spring to mind.
But should we be getting books for free and what does that mean for the author? According to a report from ALCS (Authors Licensing and Collection Society)
“The first ten years of a writer’s life are the hardest, even more so in the UK. The annual median income for professional authors from writing in the UK age group 25-34 is only £5,000 – one third less than for the comparable German category. Over the life-time of an author, earnings increase until the mid-fifties, and then decrease again”. Also, “A typical professional authors’ income is 33% less than the national average wage”.
Yep, most writers are poor. You may hear about £1 million book advances but I assure you that most of my writers friends are jealous of £5,000 book advances! Yet, before I started writing I thought that every writer was loaded, I thought that having a book out meant you could go off and buy that 6 bedroom house you have your eye on. Well you can’t, not unless you write a book about dirty Grey men!
It looks bleak now, but what about the future? In the last 10 years or so the music industry changed beyond all recognition with the advent of the MP3 player. The book market too is changing with the advent of tablets and e-readers. There is fear amongst authors, publishers and agents that the same thing will happen, pirated books will become as common as pirated music. That the industry will no longer be able to sustain itself. But music can carry on as musicians can be paid for gigging or getting radio airplay; authors can only really get paid when they sell books. Some book festivals will get authors to appear for free and another income stream many authors would sell their work in, the national newspapers are hemorrhaging money at the moment so even they will ask writers to blog for free or at greatly reduced rates.
But this won’t happen for years, will it? I certainly thought so and I also thought that my book didn’t lend itself to the e-reader. My ebook sales have always been very poor in comparison to my book sales. In the period between its release in September 2011 and new year just 5 ebooks were sold in the UK.
This is because no one wants a “cookbook” as a download right? Well, I thought so until I Googled “Booze for Free PDF” and checked out the number of illegal downloads my book has received. I found from just one torrent site that around 2000 ebooks had been downloaded. Now, is there a correlation? As an author I’d make around £2000 out of that many books. As I look into the shallow pool that was once my bank balance I start to fantasize about what I could do with the money. I could fix the shower and buy some curtains for the bedrooms, or perhaps life with a new child on the way be a little more comfortable rather than a little fraught!
But have I really lost two grand? Paulo Coelho the bestselling novelist suggests that pirated books will make him more money, he urges readers to who like his book to go out and buy a hard copy if they like it. Neil Gaiman agrees and argues that, for example, in Russia where his books were being pirated the most he was also making more sales. In his case his books were working as adverts. The more people that saw his books the more people would buy them.
Will that be the same for me? Well, my next royalty statement arrives next month and if the page Rank on Amazon has anything to go by my ebook sales are still looking poor. Perhaps if you already have a few books out then pirated books are a good thing, but I’m not so sure for those of us who are only on our first or second book.
I’d like to keep on writing for as long as people like what I write (and perhaps just a little bit longer). The free model does seem attractive especially if it sells more books and helps people who can’t afford books. So I too have thought about offering my first book, The Selfsufficientish Bible as a free download, or at least the parts I wrote (its co-written with Dave Hamilton, my brother) . But then I do already offer free content I have added some recipes and pages from Booze for Free all over this blog and even added new recipes. On top of that I may still turn my Lunch break forager articles into a book and by that point I’d have given most of that book away for free! (incidentally authors also get 5p every time one of our books is taken out at the library, remember libraries?)
I have to admit I do need at least some cash and believe it or not so do most other writers. I guess what I’d hope for is if a pirated book is read and especially if its been enjoyed then the reader should find a way to support that writer. Without book sales we writers can’t buy new curtains and we like new curtains (as least I do).
If you wish to keep Andy in curtains then you can find his latest book Booze for Free at Beetroot books, on Amazon and from your favourite bookshop or even as an Ebook. His other Book The Selfsufficientish Bible is available at Amazon too.
You may also notice a lot of opportunities to donate. If you did download Booze for free and now think, you know I’d love to give Andy £1 or even a bit more then any donation will be most gratiously recieved. You never know I might even send you a photo of me with a lovely new set of curtains.