How to make money on the Interweeb.
I was listening to Maximum Geek 5 on the subway this morning, and was struck with the need to comment on it.
To start off with, damn Jeff and Josh (the two hosts) are some huge geeks! (And this coming from someone who wrote a Palm conduit to post to his weblog.) What I mean is that listening to them takes me right back to my days in the Computer Science Club at the University of Waterloo, complete with interrupting each other in the middle of sentences and misquoting Monty Python.
Second, Jeff Kirvin is perhaps the most naive, and I mean that in the nicest way, person I have ever heard speak. While I'ld like to believe that people would pay for content that I could get for free, I just don't have that much faith in human nature, and sadly, my experience seems to bear out my conclusions. I think that at this point in time on the Internet, paying for something is always harder than not paying for it, so you need to add some sort of value to the paying copy.
Which means that the New York Times has completely the wrong idea. It's true that they've cut themselves off from the rest of the web, and are only harming themselves by doing so. (They're a newspaper, why not make the current month pay-to-read, and open up the archives? Surely their main selling point is commentary on what's currently going on!) So, I have the following suggestion for Solo Media: Put up text-only versions of your serials. By "text-only" I don't just mean versions without any formatting, because given the existance of alt.binaries.e-books, and the fact that the first few doc readers couldn't support formatting, having a non-formatted version is clearly not enough of a difference to get people to pay. What I really mean "text-only" is that you should remove all the punctuation, and force capital letters into lowercase as well! It's very rare that people search for a comma, or a semi-colon, and most-if-not-all of the search engines are case-insensitive these days, so lowercasing everything won't hurt your searchability. It will allow people to quickly find which episode memorable text is located in (and approximately where in that episode it is), And it will even give people the flavour of the stuff you're writing, but it will also make it much harder to read, and probably hard enough that it won't be worth the time to try to fix it.
So that's my idea for you guys. Feel free to use it, and spread it around. I hope you like it, and may you grow rich off of it.