German Buch News: Why Free isn’t Frei

In German Buch News, News by Siobhan O'Leary

By Siobhan O’Leary

The Handelsblatt blog calls the idea of “free” online content a myth, or better still, an easy excuse. The post describes time as the scarcest of our resources and that consumers pay for their seemingly free content by offering up what little time they have. What if all newspapers, magazines, etc., were to protect their content behind lock and key? Will a reader invest the time to pay for a single article or simply move on? The argument here says it is hardly possible to make money by charging for content (and inevitably losing users) and forcing a user to look at advertising at the same time. The time customers are willing to invest is the decisive factor, and the more conveniently it is delivered (e.g. via mobile apps) the more that can be charged for it.

Free content was also the source of debate in the latest business section of the FAZ, which discussed the Klett Group’s decision to offer a free online German dictionary under the Ponsonline brand. The FAZ says this may have an impact on Duden, particularly because Pons has never before published a German dictionary and is better known for its foreign language dictionaries.

As discussed in buckmarkt, Die Tageszeitung (taz) describes how Aufbau Verlag pulled one of its editors, Sabine Lange, from working on Hans Fallada’s In meinem fremden Land. Gefängnistagebuch 1944 [In My Foreign Country. Prison Diary 1944], which appeared earlier this year. The taz states that Aufbau caved to pressure by Fallada’s heirs to keep Lange away due to a difference of opinion about the book.

About the Author

Siobhan O'Leary

Siobhan O’Leary is a literary agent, translator and writer based in Berlin. She previously worked in the Foreign Rights department of the Crown Publishing Group (Random House) and at the publishing consulting firm Market Partners International.