I Want It for Free!

I was recently ranting to my husband about how frustrating it is to know so many people with ebook readers wanting to download free books! Having written a couple of manuscripts, I now recognize that a book involves hours and hours of brow-furrowing concentration; back-wrenching butt-in-chair typing; and writes, rewrites, edits, proofs, critiques, and much more! It’s appalling to me that people are only willing to spend 99 cents or zero money on something that took an author perhaps a year to craft.

A few days later, I was skimming cnet.com for recommendations on video capture software. I was getting ready to type in the search box “free video capture software.” I glanced over at my desk which held a Starbucks “Pick of the Week” free download from iTunes. I reviewed my to-do list for the day which included a trip to the library to pick up free books for my kids to read.


We’re suckers for things that are free, and when something out there is free, we wonder why other people are charging! Truly, I do not subscribe to a newspaper or news magazine because I can get the headlines online for free. What additional benefit might I receive if I pay $39.95 per year for the news printed on paper and delivered to my house? Is  it worth it?

First-time museum visitors are also more likely to visit on free admission days (from American Association of Museums). However, the median cost to the museum for each visitor is about $36. I definitely availed myself of that opportunity by taking my kids to Children’s Museum of Houston on a free admission evening when they were young.

I downloaded the free beta version of Scrivener for Windows this week – which I am thoroughly enjoying – and wondered how much I’d be willing to pay for it. I sure would hate to have to pay for something I had been getting for free, but it took some effort to develop this software and I need to be willing to pay for it when the full version is released. (I sincerely hope that the price isn’t too high, though!)

What do we spend money for these days? Where are we willing to put our dollars down and pay the person whose labor provides us a product? What great things have you gotten for free?

8 thoughts on “I Want It for Free!

  1. I think the willingness to pay is in large part tied to concrete goods – if you can hold it, poke it etc, the feeling that it should be paid for is much stronger than with intangibles like ebooks.I'm actually planning to start giving my ebooks away as soon as I can set up a merchandising system with decent margins (cafepress just doesn't cut it). I'd do it now, but I'm simply too cash poor. It's a model that works pretty well for webcomics.

  2. I'm typing on a laptop for which I paid around $800, but I'm using the Firefox browser. I'm using the OS, Kubuntu GNU/Linux, for which I only paid the Verizon connection charges to download and install in place of Windows (I'm sure I paid part of the laptop cost for that.)Freedom to use and improve is a big factor for me. I'm not a programmer, but have contributed to documentation.I read blogs like this one and contribute my own blog. Is that a fair barter?I'm part of a culture of sharing. I like that.I do pay various prices for ebooks, ranging from $0 to around $10, though it does bother me that the ebook often costs more than a paperback version of the same text.

  3. Ahh, the gimme culture. I'm almost always willing to pay for technology. I have a hard time forking over money for dental services. I've had Blue Cross Blue Shield for so long that I balk at having to pay–gasp!–50% on my dental work. LOL I love the library here. We have a county system that includes seven branches. Cardholders can get on the library website and request *any* book owned by the county library system and have it delivered to branch of their choice. We donate to them, but I use their services a lot more than I donate. One thing I've become increasingly aware of is that they don't make 'em like they used to–that especially goes for appliances. Our very expensive Maytag washer and dryer started messing up right about the time the 3 year warranty ran out. Of course, Maytag told us to pound sand. We've kept them working, but they're basically junk. Thanks for making me think. 😀

  4. I'm using the sample version of Scrivener for Mac and loving it. I will be purchasing it and have no problem paying the price. But I do like samples/trial periods because there's always that chance I won't like it wasting money sucks.

  5. What I don't like is people taking things for free that they should be paying for, i.e. downloading songs off the internet from sites that are illegal, thus taking away money the artist should have made. I'm not a big fan of getting things for free "just because". There's so much of that in our culture: buy one, get one free – when I know I don't need ONE and certainly can't use TWO of them! But it's acquire, acquire, acquire in American. We have to have THINGS always – possessions are so important! I'm ranting – sorry. But we have SO much here in America while others live in poverty. I'm done now.Patti

  6. You caught me, Julie. I also took inventory of my free things/services versus the charged ones. I'm a freebie-a-holic by nature, too. I am still learning how to balance between the two extremes.BTW – Scrivener for Mac costs less than $50. I'm sure the Windows edition will be comparable…I LOVE to write with Scrivener.

  7. I love a free book, but I will undoubtedly still spend every dollar in my checking account on books. I won't however spend tons of money on these ereaders and I'm thankful that Barnes & Noble and Amazon made their software available for the PC for free. I took full advantage of that, especially since so many of my writer friends have only published ebooks so far. I want to check out that free Scriver for PCs. Do you like it?

  8. I love the idea of free samples; it's a wonderful way to test things out. If the product is great and the price is right, you'll probably buy it later. For authors with a string of books or other ways to make money, it might make sense to offer a book free to hook the reader. I just wonder sometimes if I shouldn't pay a little for certain products instead of going the free route. On a related note, my hubby suggested Open Office for my new laptop. It's free and working great! 🙂

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