What’s the best way to hurt the local agriculture market in a country full of starving people? Indiscriminantly give away tons of free food. Relief organizations have learned the hard way that if they want to create a self-sustaining market of locally grown produce, they can’t always bring in truckloads of rice from other countries.
What’s the best way to kill off newspapers? Give away the news for free. Book publishers know this and have worked assiduously to avoid the same fate.
makes a plea in a recent New York Times Op Ed for writers to stop listening to the same smooth, silky pitch, “They won’t be paying you in money, man, because you’re getting paid in the far more valuable currency of exposure.” Yet if that exposure doesn’t actually lead to income, what’s the point?
“I’ve been trying to understand the mentality that leads people who wouldn’t ask a stranger to give them a keychain or a Twizzler,” writes Kreider, “to ask me to write them a thousand words for nothing.”
Why can people get away with this? Kreider tells us it is because some people are willing to do it.
If we think it is valuable (and it is) to nurture a society with a bounty of quality, thoughtful, artful writers, neither can information be free (see here) nor can writing always be free. In select cases, it can be shrewd to give away some writing or sell it at a discount. But to recklessly do so all the time is self defeating.
At IVP we pay our authors and writers. We want to encourage them to do more. We have set up our business model to make this possible. It’s a good thing for the author, for the reader, for the church and for society.
Hey, as part of my job here, they’re even paying me to write this blog!