A famous Spanish writer, Arturo Pérez-Reverte, published a few days ago on his blog, “if you want this work [writing] free, ask your fucking mother to do it.” It was an ornery response to someone’s Tweet who considered, “culture should be free and open access,” as a response to an article in which it was discussed the “serious economic damage to publishers, booksellers and authors caused by piracy”.
About the same time, another Spanish writer reported, “Since they have been downloaded more illegal copies of my novel that copies have been purchased, I will not publish anymore,” said Lucia Etxebarría. The traditional press echoed her words and publishing industry tuck up her, “Poor thing, look at what the Internet is doing to authors.”
Without entering into controversy, the following is the case of one of the few magazines I pay for (the printed edition), “Orsai.” This magazine is authored, designed, edited, printed, published and distributed directly by the very same authors. You can buy the printed magazine during the three months preceding the date of publication. From that moment you can only download it (free) from their website.
I leave the conclusions to you, but I would like to know your position through the comments.
During 2013 we edited four Orsai magazines. We sold an average of seven thousand copies of each, and with that money we paid (very well) to all authors. The free .pdf of the four editions reached six hundred thousand downloads and views online.
We sold seven thousand, and six hundred thousand were downloaded.
If the cases of above writers [Lucia and Arturo] and Orsai are similar, and occur in the same cultural market, why those numbers are a cause of joy to us and provoke unease to them?
The answer, perhaps is, while this is the same market, it’s not the same world.
There is, increasingly, a brand new world where the number of virtual downloads and the number of physical sales adds up. Its authors say, “How good, many people is reading me!” But still exists an old world in which both figures are subtracted. Its authors say, “How awful, many people don’t pay me!”
The old world is based on control, contracts, exclusivity, confidentiality, tether, representation, and dividends. Everything that happens outside of their standards, it is illegal culture.
The new world is based on trust, generosity, freedom of action, creativity, passion, and commitment. Everything that happens outside and within its parameters is good, as long as people enjoy culture, paid or unpaid.
In other words: It is not the responsibility of the readers who don’t pay that Lucia and Arturo are getting poor, but the way their publishers share the gains from readers who do pay. Old world, new world.
Here, at Orsai, we don’t believe we have to fight the old world, not even we have to debate with it. We have to let it die in peace, unmolested. No need to see the old world as the castrating father who was in its heyday, but as a grandfather with Alzheimer.
And it’s true we love grumpa. Twenty, thirty years ago, the man who is now gaga taught us to read, put beautiful books in our hands.
Do not argue with him, because you would spend your energy in the wrong place. We have to use that energy to do books and magazines otherwise, we must re-passionate about reading and writing, we must defend to death the culture that is not in the hands of old dodderers. But do not waste time fighting the gramps. We need to talk only with our readers.
Lucia and Arturo, you have a lot of readers. You are lucky writers. Your readers are not the devil, neither those who buy your novels nor those who download your stories.
No demons, actually, but two worlds, two different ways of doing things.
Is in you, in us, in each author, to continue signing absurd contracts with demented old dodderers, or start writing a new story. One that everyone can read.
You rob me! – Dugutigui, and an article by Hernan Casciari, Orsai magazine.