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Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Jim Baen

Jim Baen died two days ago. There is a moving obituary by David Drake. In case you are wondering what this might have to do with copyright and DRM, here is the relevant part

For example, the traditional model of electronic publishing required that the works be encrypted. Jim thought that just made it hard for people to read books, the worst mistake a publisher could make. His e-texts were clear and in a variety of common formats.

While e-publishing has been a costly waste of effort for others, Baen Books quickly began earning more from electronic sales than it did from Canada. By the time of Jim's death, the figure had risen to ten times that.

This is real entrepreneurship - making available a superior product at a good price. I expect it put more money in the pockets of authors than the other kind.

I owe my own personal gratitude to Jim Baen. He published the kind of science fiction I love to read - I was reading books he published long before electronic publishing was a gleam in his eye. I read fast, and I like to read on airplanes: while reading off of a palm pilot or tablet pc isn't quite as satisfying as a real book, the fact that I can bring a 1000 volume library with me wherever I am is worth a lot. For me Baen's electronic publication was a godsend. I went to his website to see how many Baen electronic books I own: 171 is the count. That means I've (happily) paid him over $600 for electronic books over the years - probably more than I've spent on traditional dead-tree fiction from all publishers during that time. I imagine quite a bit of that was well-earned money for the authors, as well as well-earned money for Baen himself. My only regret is that I will never have the opportunity to meet the man.


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