Booze for Free PDF

Booze for free PDF – Should everything be free?

Booze for Free and its Author Andy Hamilton
Booze for Free and its Author Andy Hamilton

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.

The other Andy Hamilton its (no) curtains for you
Andy Hamilton its (no) curtains for you

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.

8 thoughts on “Booze for Free PDF

  1. I feel your pain. Nobody likes to have their work sold for less than its worth. And my publishers are like the CIA in rights management and tracking people down (and they sue people for lost revenue).

    There’s an issue in the maths though. How many of those 2,000 downloads were people who might not have paid for the book, so it’s hard to work out the lost revenue. Others may have wanted the book, but couldn’t buy it in their market (this is a serious issue with the internet). Then, some of them are just people who wanted the book, could have bought it and decided to steal it instead.

    Its a tricky issue, but one that authors need to be concerned with.

  2. Hello there Ali and thanks for the comments.

    The stuff you publish is academic so it does tend to be sold at a much higher price so I can understand the CIA approach, there is much more to loose.

    Yes, you are right about the readers. We released the ebook almost straight away so that people could have a copy and not have to pirate it. I’m lucky as my book is being sold in many territories so hopefully anyone that wants one can buy one.

    Again, you are right too about us authors we should be concerned our future income depends on it!

  3. Great blog Andy. It’s a complex issue, isn’t it. I’m releasing my new book on a creative commons licence, and doing a free version online. Its a similar approach to that which Charles Eisenstein (whose not a Paulo Coelho type, much more interesting and insightful than that!) has taken, and one which I think is the way forward in publishing and life in general.

    His experience is that when you offer it to people for free (as well as a normal paper copy), it actually inspires people to want to support your work in some way, either by buying a hard copy (for themselves or a friend) or by giving a donation. People on his site read it and often make a donation to him – what he calls “a return gift” – if they found it valuable, and sometimes it’s more than an author would ever charge for a book. Plus, those who genuinely can’t afford it can also read it for free, so no false scarcity has been created around the information (the mechanisms of the monetary economy, by the way, create this false scarcity in the first place by removing us from the land, from being able to construct a simple home, by forcing us onto the conveyor belt of industrialised civilisation.)

    I was also chatting to an editor of a prominent magazine last week, and they’ve had a similar experience. They decided to give away articles and so on for free on the net, and for the first time their enterprise is financially viable.

    The other element in the debate is that what if you found your curtains on freecycle, the plumber for your shower on freeconomy etc? What if you gave the book to people in the spirit of the gift and had your own needs met in the same spirit. A good example of this economic model is nature, and we’d do well do model our own economy on it. When I piss under a tree, I don’t charge it for nitrogen. Similarly, it doesn’t charge me for oxygen. That would be absurd and highly bureaucratic, right? Good for accountants and lawyers, but not great for ecological systems and those who want a simple life.

    Anyway, just thought I’d throw in my twopence worth! Good blogpost, I think its a conversation that needs to be had, publishing is an industry which isn’t sure which way its going at the mo.

    And thanks for doing what you do Andy, and for raising the question in an honest and genuine way.

  4. Cheers for your comments Mark, hope all is well.

    It will be very interesting to see how well your book does and its certainly one to watch. Although, I wonder if the first few people who give away their books for free will benefit as they will gain more publicity for doing so? The real test might be a five years time when loads of people are doing it. I mean there are youtube videos that we love but never pay for. I dont’ think the Star Wars kid has any money.

    I supose it depends on the value society thinks we as writers are worth and what they are prepared to give. Some of the books available on the kindle for free, (for instance), are not that well written or edited. When writers no longer get paid for their work and they can’t afford copy editors then will the work be inferior as a result? Mind you there are plenty of works that just weren’t comercially viable so never got published, this doesn’t mean that they weren’t great books. Perhaps we could even start to see some better books that are written, “for the love it”. But then I know Dickens wrote for money and so did Shakespeare, would authors stick to just one book if the insentive was taken away? I don’t have the anwsers I’m afraid, but I do know that my output would diminish were I not to be paid for it. But if that payment came in donations for readers, well I’d happily take that too!

    As for the curtains, a friend of a friend makes curtains and we were hoping to get her to make us some. The shower will end up being fixed by me I think, but we will still have to buy parts for it and if we bought second hand I can’t see them lasting forever. I get your point and in many circumstances you can go down the free route for things (such as sofas, tellys and computers) but in this instance I’m afraid I can’t see that as an option.

    Anyway, thanks for keeping the debate going mate.

  5. All good points Andy. No easy answers to some of these ones. I’d recommend reading Charles Eisenstein’s The Ascent of Humanity and/or Sacred Economics. We’re at a tricky point in history – most of us want a much better world than this to some degree or other, yet we’re all faced with reality.

    Would the standard and frequency of writing drop with the “incentive” of money? In the cultural narrative of our society, that’s probably likely, but your guess is as good as mine. In a cultural narrative where people work because they want to spend their days creating the most incredible works of art they can, then I’d guess the opposite. It comes down to what a culture values in some ways. Anthropologists such as David Graeber have a lot to say about what worked really well in societies of the past, and it is the opposite of what we believe today. Highly recommend “Debt: The first 5,000 years” too.

    By the way I don’t think Dickens or Shakespeare wrote for money. Sure, without doubt they good paid for it, but I think those two wrote because the words would have otherwise burned them from the inside out. I think to them the payment was a bonus, and the art primary. I’m purely speculating though. Thanks Andy.

  6. That’s very good of you to say that it should be paid for, I aprechiate that Amanda! Fair point too about the accesability and I’d love to be able just stick it up and let people pay what they wanted. Trouble is, in order that I could afford to write it I got an advance and that means I sold the world rights (or rather my agent did). So, I don’t think my contract allows me to do that. I will try and get up a link for a worldwide Ebook if such a thing exisits. Thanks very much for posting and sorry you couldn’t get the book as a present. If you email me perhaps I could see about getting a signed one sent over to you?

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