The problem isn’t compensation, it’s obscurity. If a hundred people take my book and give it to one person each, that’s two hundred people who’ve read (or looked at) my works. People don’t not buy a book because it was free, they don’t buy a book because they don’t know about the book.
How did you learn about your favorite band? You heard a song for free, on the radio or a friend gave you a mix tape (oh fine, a playlist) and you decided you liked it. Your friend may have ripped you a copy. My first tapes were copies of something a friend had bought or copied. We didn’t pay for things at first. But then that new CD came out, and we ran to the store, pooled our money, and bought “Use Your Illusion” disks one and two. And then we bought more works by that artist.
The idea isn’t ‘give it away!’ but ‘let people read it.’ And DRM, I feel, cripples that. If I can’t share what I like with people, they’ll never read it. Saying that giving a book away means people won’t buy it just sounds stupid. So a library never inspired someone to buy a book? Giving something away lets you read it, share it, and talk about it. Yes, I know. Selling a book without DRM presents the likelihood of having a significant percentage of my ‘market’ read without paying. 97% of you do that, on average. Which sucks for me. But how many of you would have even bothered to read it without? And with electronic media, you can give away millions of copies at little cost to you, but are those people who would have found and read my book anyway? See the vicious circle?
Look, I know you’re just going to make that mix tape anyway.
So here’s my deal. Take the books. I’d love it if you returned the favor with a donation, but take the book. Give it to your friends, share it, quote it, edit it, but don’t do it commercially. This is called the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.