Hi Mike,mikenz66 wrote:This is something that it is easy for for westerners who don't interact with real-life Buddhist institutions to overlook. If it is free someone else has paid... I have a number of Dhamma books that have been printed and freely distributed because various generous individuals have paid for them. If I chose I could (but don't) go on retreats to my local Wat without paying a cent due to the generosity of the lay people.tiltbillings wrote: The interesting things that the "proliferation" of the various texts were paid for by either rich laity or by the land holdings of the monasteries or by royal patronage. Someone paid for it.
All this stuff costs money, whether there is a fee charged or not.
It's not clear to me that non-profit publishers such as BPS, PTS, and Wisdom could continue to disseminate high-quality translations if they didn't have some sort of market model. It may be possible. Would those who complain about having to pay a few dollars for thousands of pages of high-quality translated text like to volunteer to set up such an institution?
My suggestion is that those who don't want to buy anything simply don't, quit complaining, and rejoice in what is freely available, which is quite a lot...
My point isn't about not wanting to buy...it's about broadening access to the greatest number of people. Buddhist organizations could slash their publication costs and enormously expand their reach through electronic publication. The future of publication is electronic for many reasons, but a huge one is the issues of physical resources which are running out and becoming prohibitively expensive (not to mention the high toxicity of the chems in the paper, glues, and inks used in traditional publishing that end up in the land fill and the water supply). Amazon's Kindle and Sony's version of same aren't just quaint toys...they are the future of publication and they can't produce them fast enough to keep up with demand. Kindle books cost 1/3 to 1/2 the price of paper and are significantly greener. The publishing industry is well aware that electronic books will be shared, but they don't care because they're still making the same amount of money or more.
I recently terminated a publishing contract with Random (because they wouldn't allow me to release the book in electronic format on file sharing networks for free) and I'll be releasing the book in Kindle format sometime next year with a simultaneous networking strategy. A friend of mine who had published 4 previous books with the big publishing houses released his 5th print book (this one green self-published) in electronic format on the file sharing networks for free, and as a result the print book has outsold previous sales for all 4 of the previous print books combined with their expensive ad campaigns that only benefited the publishing houses. Like me, his next book will be all electronic, kindle-ized and also free on the networks. Paper is a walking dead format...it's just a matter of time.