Back in 2007, I released my short film Black Sand onto the world. I used it as an experiment to see if Internet users really were the thieving scum some claim them to be. It’s been ten years and I can’t remember the details of how it all went. After searching my old blog (in Icelandic), I see that it was downloaded 799 times in the first two weeks. Ten users had paid for it, which made up 1.6% of total downloads (that’s what it says on the blog, I must have had better data back then). It doesn’t say much though, as this was the infancy of paid content online and many got in touch saying they would have paid for it if I’d included an Icelandic bank account. I believe the final numbers were slightly more favourable, but it’s been a long time and I can’t be sure.
Ten years on and I have another product. And I’m still curious. How has the Internet changed, have easier payment options encouraged more people to pay for content or are we mostly freeloaders that won’t pay unless we absolutely have to? Having seen iTunes sell billions of songs, Netflix and Spotify sell millions of subscriptions, I’m not convinced we are all thieves. I believe it has everything to do with ease of access and fair pricing.
The idea is to let potential readers decide what they pay for the novel. Go and get it, pay a euro, ten euros, nothing. It’s up to you. A month from now, I will write a new blog post and present the findings. How many people bought it, how many people paid, how many didn’t pay, what was the average price, what was the median income per downloaded item (if I can get my head around median).
I’m doing this because I have never believed Internet users were thieves. It’s just that the accessibility of content wasn’t always optimal. It was easier to download an MP3 than it was to get on a bus, go downtown and buy a record. And pricing. Sometimes I’m shocked at the prices of online content. Why do I pay €15 or more for an eBook when the physical book is similarly priced? My novels are available in print editions and I know that it’s not cheap to get them printed. Digital distribution costs next to nothing and we should, at least partially, pass the savings onto readers, listeners or viewers. Yes, us authors need to live, eat, pay mortgages, but what we save on printing costs shouldn’t only benefit us. It should benefit us all.
So, go get to it. Order the book if you like the synopsis. Pay whatever you like and watch this space. I shall be revealing everything a month from now.
Oh, and isn’t this a nice way to sell a book that deals with anarchism?