Dealing with the other F-word

A persistent issue facing all content creators moving to a digital world is the other F-word: "Free".

How much (if any) if your content should be free? What do you when people (especially overseas) start posting free copies of your content on file-sharing sites? How on earth are you going to charge for something if you’re also giving some (or all) of it away for free?

These are not easy questions, and a lot of very smart people are asking them: We heard from Wired‘s Chris Anderson at TOC 2007 in his talk, FREE: The Economics of Abundance and the Price of Zero (you can see the video here, for, ummm, free). More recently there was news of one author taking pirating into his own hands, and increasing sales by doing it. And at next week’s TOC Conference, Tim O’Reilly will be talking about how Free is more complicated than it sounds.

Kevin Kelly recently weighed in, with a phenomenal piece titled Better than Free. Kevin moves away from trying to figure out how to balance "free" and "paid", and instead suggests focusing on what cannot be copied:

When copies are super abundant, they become worthless.
When copies are super abundant, stuff which can’t be copied becomes scarce and valuable.

A thought-provoking read for anyone concerned about where value resides in a digital world.

P.S.: I found this piece via another TOC 2008 speaker, Seth Godin. There’s still time to register for TOC 2008, and you can save 20% with discount code toc08rdr.