You Get What You Pay For

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The phrase, You get what you pay for, is normally used in regards to the consumer and the quality of the item they are purchasing. It infers that to get quality you must pay a higher cost for it, but the idea of free media releases like O'Reilly's book about ibooks author throws a slight wrinkle into this line of thinking. If the phrase is turned around and concentrated toward the producer or manufacturer instead of the consumer, how does its meaning change? In this case, O'Reilly certainly is paying for something. Whoever wrote the book dedicated their time and work, the website has to store the book on its system which takes up server space, and the cost of operation so that the book is made continuously available is a factor. But what is it that O'Reilly has bought exactly? I'd like to believe that the gesture is as magnanimous as it seems, but I'm somehow suspicious that there is a business model lurking somewhere in close proximity. I mean, O'Reilly is in fact a business that sells e-books and videos after all, so one would think that the business minded would mind not making a profit. Or...Is this a means of generating profit. For instance, for every user who downloads this book from them the O'Reilly site gets another visit, and everyone who visits their site is will undoubtedly see some of O'Reilly's other products. Some of these visitors may not have ever heard of O'Reilly before, but now that they have, they know where to find the types of products that O'Reilly distributes. Not only this, but O'Reilly deals in electronic books, and ibooks author is a tool for generating these types of books. I noticed on their site that none of their products currently come in the ibook format, so what does this tell me. Either the exercise of researching the book was an attempt to appraise the ibooks platform (i.e. research shows not worthwhile for O'Reilly's purposes therefore release ebook as a means of cutting losses and generating site traffic on a trending topic) or O'Reilly may actually be interested in helping users get acquainted with the platform and promoting its use so that the transition to digital is pushed, ever so slightly, forward (i.e. making O'Reilly a more profitable site).



Will's picture


There has to be some reason for releasing a book for free, and it can usually (either directly or indirectly) relate back to profits in some way. This isn't a bad thing because if he makes money then he can release more books. Even books that help people out need to make money if the author wants to write another one.