I sent the following to the infamous tormentor of puppies after reading a discussion of the RIAA and free downloads on the Blog That Must Not Be Mentioned:
In addition to being a newly syndicated columnist, I happen to be a published novelist. I can assure you, free downloads are a benefit to about 98 percent of all creators because the primary challenge to selling one’s books, CDs, etc is simply letting your potential market know that you exist. It’s hard to sell something to someone who doesn’t know that you or your product are out there.
This is why Hillary Clinton can sell tons of books despite the fact that she can’t – and didn’t – write one. She has enough fame to cut through the clutter. Downloads will hurt the sales of a Stephen King or a John Grisham, but will only help the average writer since it increases the general awareness of his work.
This is why Baen Books and others have seen an uptick in sales since making their wares freely available for download. The percentage of people who’ve heard of the product and become buyers may decrease, but for almost everyone, the increase in the number of people who’ve heard about it more than makes up for any loss.