People will pay for content — but if they can’t get it legally, they will get it illegally. Holding content back ultimately hurts sales.
That’s the takeaway from Michael D. Smith’s presentation on piracy this week at the Digital Book World conference in New York. While he was talking mostly about e-book piracy, his insights should certainly transfer to the comics industry.
Smith, a professor of information technology and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University, launched his talk with some “myths,” including the notion that publishers “can’t compete with free.” In fact, they can; it’s just a matter of marketing. But they have to be willing to sell the book to begin with. This article by Jeremy Greenfield on the Digital Book World site summarizes one publisher’s experience that mirrors what is going on in comics: