-Padraig Reidy is news editor at Index on Censorship. The opinions expressed are his own.-
Mainstream consumer media is, it is agreed, in trouble. The idea of paying for one or two newspapers a day is now confined, it seems, to quaintly old-fashioned types who boast of their ignorance of the Internet, or business who actually need the information in the pages of the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal.
Wire services’ content is processed so fast by subscribers that one can barely spot the time difference. Local newspapers are seeing their stock in trade diminished. When one’s entire life is catalogued on Facebook and Flickr, there’s little thrill in having your picture in the local paper, or indeed huge necessity in publishing births, deaths and marriages. And why place a classified ad in a newspaper, when we have eBay and Gumtree?
The solution? Some, such as "Wired" magazine editor-in-chief Chris Anderson, would suggest simply giving things away. Anderson’s new book, "Free: The Future of a Radical Price" is available for free from the web until 1 August, while the hardback edition will be sold, at a price, in shops and on Amazon.
The idea, Anderson tells the Los Angeles Times is that some of those who download for free will also buy the book, if they are sufficiently impressed, of course. It’s a principle that has already been seen at work in the music world, where Radiohead released ‘In Rainbows’ freely on the web, and later released the album to shops, without any noticeable decline in sales.