Fuse #8

Friday, February 02, 2007

Generosity, Smart Marketing, Or Both?

You are a children's book author. You've been writing titles for quite some time and since you are prolific it's just the natural order of the universe that your books should inevitably fall out-of-print. You could bombard your old publishers to reprint your titles, if you liked, but how far would that really get you? You want to try something new. Something different. Something... something free.

If you are Hans Wilhelm you take your books and you put them online. As the PW article on this subject said:
His books have been translated into more than 20 languages and have reached an in-print tally of more than 35 million copies. Now Wilhelm has made nearly 100 of his out-of-print picture books available for fans to download free on his Web site . . .

"It is entirely logical," says the author of his decision to establish the Web site. "Books seem to go out of print faster and faster these days, often for reasons beyond our control and not always because they aren't selling well, and it is a pity that many powerful books are no longer available. I thought there is no reason why my out-of-print books should collect dust on a shelf when I could keep them alive. So I'm taking them out of retirement so that they can continue to give joy and pleasure to millions around the world."



At 9:39 AM , Blogger Tricia said...

An interesting idea, but here's my question. Beyond Fair Use guidelines for education, I have very limited knowledge of copyright law. I can see making books available that he has both written and illustrated, but is it a copyright violation to make books available that have been written by others (for example, I'm Tyrannosaurus, written by Jean Marzollo)?

Thanks for the link!

At 10:02 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think he'd have to have the rights to both the words and the illustrations to put a specific book up, so if he got Jean Marzollo's permission he could do it.

I like the idea, especially for novels. It's a little sad to think of a picture book online, though. They're so nice to hold in your hands.

At 11:49 AM , Blogger Andrea -- Just One More Book!! Podcast said...

This reminds me of Andrew Watters' attempt to make the ValueTales books available online. If you haven't followed it you can hear the story here:


Andrew Watters' "Value Tales Shrine" website appears to have disappeared from:

This might be a good sign (?)


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