The first thing those with penchant for smugness like to ask of my book (Free-to-Play: Making Money From Games You Give Away) is, “why isn’t it free?” Their lips curl and their eyes shine. The book hasn’t even shipped yet and already I’ve had this asked of me by at least a dozen people, each one more pleased with themselves than the last. The answer to the question, isn’t straight forward or short, so let me respond here.
Firstly, the book is about free games, not free books. Whilst books, like film, TV and every other medium, are disrupted by the internet and zero distribution cost, it’s only games that has a good solution that utilities variable expenditure (including $0) across an audience. The publishing industry hasn’t yet had it’s FarmVille. My book is about the particular details of one business model that’s solved a lot of problems, not an all encompassing panacea.
Secondly, all or at least part of this book is available for free. Whilst there are some nefarious means of acquiring the full text digitally, you can also walk in to any library and if they don’t have it on a shelf, they’ll get it for you. But beyond that both me and my publisher have been keen to get a good chunk of the book out, so large excerpts will appear over the next month in industry press including GamesIndustry International, Develop Magazine and Tech Crunch, as well as on Peachpit’s site and this blog.
So that’s the long answer to your smart ass question: Because it can’t be, but it sort of is.