No surprises here: concerning book sales,
A year-long study has revealed that peer-to-peer piracy could actually boost sales, rather than eat into overall purchases. (via bookseller.com)
The trick, of course, is having the guts to do so in the first place. Even Cory Doctorow, in some essay that I think is in his Content collection, says that the first time he gave a book away he held back a little, using a more restrictive Creative Commons license. But he loved the experience so much, and he seemed to be selling more books than he would have otherwise, that he went even loosier-goosier with future books–and never looked back.
And now, there’s some research to back up his strong hunch. Sweet!
But like I said, taking that step is hard. Even with a department-written textbook that my colleagues and I put together over the summer, when I brought up the idea of putting it online, I was told by two knowledgeable, professional folks in drippingly sweet terms that if it were online, no one would buy it. So we reserved all our rights. I know the context here is probably different: a student who can get access to a textbook for free isn’t going to have that experience of, “This is so great, I want to be able to read the rest in a paper copy, and I’m willing to pay for it!” But that authorial fear of, “Should I let this get away from me?” was there, at least in a small way, nibbling at our (my) love of good content freely available online.
In the future, I’m going to ask the publishers what they think. For someone like me, I need all the publicity I can get–and now I can point to this story to back me up.