“I don’t believe that I am giving up book royalties,” Doctorow said about persuading his publisher, Tor Books, to make Down and Out available digitally for free under the new Creative Commons licensing system.
“(Downloads) crossed the 10,000-download threshold at 8 a.m. this morning,” Doctorow said Thursday, “which exceeds the initial print run for the book.”
Doctorow said he thinks the marketing buzz from those downloads will be worth more than any lost book sales. “I think that the Internet’s marvelous ability to spread information to places where it finds a receptive home is the best thing that could happen to a new writer like me.”
Down and Out may be watched closely as a test of whether the Creative Commons license actually helps or hurts writers, but Tor senior editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden said the value of free online publishing has already been demonstrated.
As test balloons go, we could do much worse than Down and Out. And anyone who reads it will be equally confident of its trajectory.