Monday, May 9, 2011

What Is Writing Worth? Part One - Blogs

Irish writer Catherine Ryan Howard has made her blog available on the Kindle. Or rather, Amazon have done it some time after she asked them to :) Amazon have a service that allows readers to subscribe for a fixed amount per month, and have blog content delivered straight to their Kindle.

I am confused.

Before I even start this, I want to make it super-clear that I have no problem with people who choose to offer their blog on a platform that generates income. We're all trying to monetise our words here, and I'm not going to judge anyone who is trying to find legal and non-evil ways to pay the bills.

However, I am not mad about the idea myself.

I have no idea why anyone would pay to read content that I am making available free. You may think my posts are worth paying for (if so, thanks!) but they are free to read. I am willing to pay for chocolate - I'm willing to pay a lot for chocolate actually - but I don't volunteer money when I'm given free chocolate (my day job gives us all a free bar of chocolate every Thursday, so I have handled this conundrum in real life).

As a blog reader (I was a blog reader long before I was a blogger) I would be willing to pay to read most, possibly all, of the blogs I follow. But I follow tons of blogs, and I couldn't afford to pay for all of them, and since I can read them for free on my computer, I'm not likely to pay to read them on a different device. Why would I?

But as a blogger, I have even more concerns. We all coast a little on our blogs sometimes. I've made entries that were a bit rubbish, badly thought out, or poorly written. If someone has paid for content and I'm not delivering what they expect, they'll be annoyed at me in a very different way than if they have just spent two minutes of their time on me. I don't want to introduce that kind of dynamic into blogging - I feel that it's the spirit of sharing common knowledge that makes blogging so much fun. Introducing commerce to that relationship makes me uncomfortable.

Also, if you're going to spend money on stuff for the Kindle, I'd rather it was being spent on books.

How do you guys feel about paying for blogs? Would you ever? Would you ever make yours available at cost?


  1. I think it's a very weird idea. I think it's more a punt by Amazon to see if they can snag anyone with money to burn. Can only be a very small group of people who would ever use this. can't see it lasting.

    Chapter One Analysis: The Hunger Games

  2. Definitely a very strange idea. I mean, I'd pay for, say, a hard copy compilation of a favourite webcomic series, but that's a physical object, a copy of a series of entertainment. Paying to read a blog on a Kindle is unusual. Does that mean each blog post is stored on the Kindle for good? What about edits or deleted posts?

  3. I agree Mood, it just doesn't grab me at all! I can see why bloggers would sign up but I have no idea why readers would.

    Paul, I haven't heard any technical details because I'm hoping I'll never have to do it (if a reader asked me, I would, but not otherwise!). I would also pay for a webcomic compliation, even though the comics are available free, and even a book based on a blog, because of the value of the physical printed book. But I wouldn't pay for a new way of having existing data delivered to me.

  4. No, I would never make mine available for money, nor would I pay to read other blogs. I completely agree with you.

  5. I don't have a problem if people want to make it available on Kindle, but I wouldn't pay for it. I will say that Catherine's has a lot of great information on it about ebooks and self-publishing, so I can see how someone might want to pay to have that info, maybe.

  6. I agree with Karen and Talli. I don't consider myself a writer and would never expect anyone to pay to read my blog.

  7. Karen, I'm always wary of saying 'never' to anything, what with life being such an unpredictable fecker and technology moving so fast - but in this case I think I can. Even if the future involves blog posts beamed into our brains from space, I think I can safely say I'll be beaming for free or not at all! Free blogging is just something I enjoy.

    Talli, that is a good point, Catherine's blog is very informative and that may affect people's perception of whether to pay for it or not. The simple fact is I reckon all the blogs I read are *worth* paying to follow, but I feel the openness, the ability to discover new blogs and the freedom of the community could be lost if all blogs were pay-to-read.

    Manzanita, whether you consider yourself a writer or not, it's an admirable sentiment :) I love the idea that people make information available free - I'd know far less about flamenco if they didn't :D

  8. Hi Ellen,

    I agree - I would never force anyone to pay to read my blog! :-)

    It is and always will be free, on WordPress. But Kindle blogs allows users to pay for the convenience of having blog posts delivered to their devices, just like newspapers (which are also available free to read online). The fee is only $1.99 per month (which apparently Amazon reduces to 99c after a while, automatically) so it is not an income generator for me - not be a long shot. But it does help with exposure: when people look up my books on Amazon, they also see a listing for my blog which they might otherwise not realize exists. This alone, I feel, is worth the sign up.

    Love your blog - you know how I feel about pink! :-)

  9. Hi Catherine, thanks for stopping by!

    I hadn't thought of the exposure element. If you have books out there I imagine it is helpful - I'm unpublished, so was approaching the question just as a blogger rather than as a writer! I can definitely see why people would make their blogs available on the Kindle, if the demand is there it is nice to meet it :)

    I also don't read newspapers on the Kindle so that may be why the appeal is slightly lost on me - I'm just not used to using the device for that purpose. If I was likely to be without internet access for a while I don't think I could survive without my Guardian fix so I'd probably be very glad of the service!

    I have to ask - is the pink typewriter on your blog your own? If so I am *very* jealous!

  10. Well that's just it - my shameful little secret is that I don't even READ e-books or anything else that may be on Kindle. (Don't tell anyone!) I'm more than happy to sell them but I'll never give up real books. So while I would never in a million years subscribe to a blog or anything else on an e-reading device, as I said I'm happy to put mine up there because it spreads the word about my blog, which in turn spreads the words about my book, which has to sell if I'm going to get away with doing this for a living.

    Unfortunately no, that typewriter isn't mine! *tear* Isn't it just fab? If I ever get that illusive traditional publishing deal, I might treat myself, but until then I just have to gaze at that pic! :-)

  11. Don't worry Catherine, you're secret is safe with me!

    I definitely understand why people make their blogs available this way - I just don't fully understand the consumer side of it, but as I said, I'm just not used to using the Kindle for blogs, newspapers, magazines, etc. I guess it's all down to people's habits!

    It is absolutely fab. If all else fails, it might be worth seeing what you could do with an old Smith-Corona and a few bottles of nail polish.

    OK, now I'm just getting desperate. Typewriter lust is a dangerous road. . . .

    I really appreciate you stopping by to explain your reasons, definitely clarified the issue for me a lot :)


I love comments!