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Creative Commons provides a tasty snack

30 October 2006

A Creative Commons license has worked well for the Friday Project on Tom Reynolds' Blood, Sweat and Tea. The publishers put most the book on their website as a free download, leading to 20,000 downloads but sales of nearly 30,000 copies.

Paul Carr, co-founder and Director of Digital Media at the Friday Project said: 'When we first announced that we were releasing Blood, Sweat and Tea under Creative Commons a lot of people in the industry thought we'd lost our minds. After all, if you give away a book there's no reason for anyone to buy it. But, of course, we were confident that allowing people to try before they buy, and also to giving bloggers the tools they need to share the work with their readers, would actually result in an increase in word-of-mouth buzz and actual sales. And thank God - we were right.'

Arguing that this proves the ability of free downloads to stimulate interest and book sales, The Friday Project has now decided to make most of its titles available in the same way. A new section will be created on the publisher's website at the end of October and most titles will be offered in full, whilst others which include third-party material will be made partly available.

This may sound like an idea whose time has come - and it is - but the Friday Project is following in the footsteps of the American author M J Rose, who self-published her novel Lip Service as long ago as 1998 after several traditional publishers turned it down. Rose set up a website where readers could download her book for $9.95 and set out to market her novel on the Internet.

After selling over 2,500 copies (in both electronic and trade paper format) Lip Service became the first e-book and the first self-published novel chosen by the LiteraryGuild/Doubleday Book Club as well as being the first e-book to go on to be published by a mainstream New York publishing house. Rose has gone on to a highly successful career publishing online and helping authors to sell and market their own books. Her latest title is Buzz Your Book, which helps authors, whether published by publishing houses or self-published, to promote their own work.

M J Rose

The Friday Project