Cory Doctorow has written an interesting column for the Locus Magazine about his experience in giving away free copies of his books . Mainly he rants about some of the criticism he has received, initially it was people claiming that giving away books for free only worked because he was not a well known author, now people claim that it only works because he is well known.
I’d like to see authors publish free work (as Cory does) and then sell print-on-demand t-shirts.
Cafepress.com has their cheapest t-shirt at $US16.99, Zazzle.com has a shirt for $US15.95, and SpreadShirt.com has shirts for as little as $US6.40 but their web site is difficult to navigate and gives me a lack of confidence in their operation. In spite of the difficult web site SpreadShirt.com seems to be the best offer at $6.40 for a basic shirt, that means either lower prices for the customer (and more sales) or a higher profit margin.
The sale of a t-shirt could give the same revenue to the author as a sale of a book while also costing less than the price of one book in a store. It would be more useful after the book has been read (something you can wear rather than something that takes up space on a shelf), and it would advertise the book. The amount of effort required to create a decent shirt is a small fraction of the effort required to write a book, in many cases the cover artwork could be used with only minor alterations. Cory Doctorow’s novels page has images that could make seven different great shirts with a small amount of effort .
I’m sure that there are also many people who want to buy the book and the shirt, so it should give a general increase in revenue.