This is well put. I think it’s why many people are forced to separate the act of paying from the content itself. Things like Patreon let a consumer support a person as they create content, without feeling (necessarily) like they’re paying for content. (Full disclosure: I have a Patreon. There, now I’m a sell-out.)

Paying for stuff is inherently grating. (Not for everyone. Some of us do go and buy paper books intentionally. But in general.) You start comparing the $12 you spent on that new book, and trying to decide if it was really worth it or not. Other books are only $9, you muse, as you sip your $5 latte. This one wasn’t really worth the extra $3. Screw that author for charging so much, or his publisher, or whoever.

But…we’ve never liked paying for content. “Bring home some records from the library and put a fresh cassette in the tape player!” “I snuck in to see Jaws!” “You’re an idiot if you buy books new — used bookstores have much better deals. Or go to the library sale!” “Wait, you bought a copy of that because you couldn’t wait a week for me to lend it to you?”

This isn’t news, but it’s become really bad because all the other ways to make people pay for content — paying for the paper, paying for the CD, paying for the popcorn, etc. — have evaporated now that we have a ‘perfect’ medium for ‘free’ distribution.

So we’re back to the minstrel model, where we support creators, and then somehow down the line content happens, and we consume it. Spooky action-at-a-distance.



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Alex Feinman

Obligate infovore. All posts made with 100% recycled electrons, sustainably crafted by artisanal artisans. He/him/his.