If You Pay Peanuts You Get Monkeys

11/08/2010 03:59 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Are you interested in downloading books from the comfort of your home for free? What's the catch? Someone has to pay and be paid for creating the content and formatting it, right? Everything comes with a price so what price are you willing to pay for a free book? That is not a trick question.

Independent sellers, namely Wowio, are planning to offer publishers a new way to reach more readers to try more books. Wowio carries e-books you can download for free if you are okay with seeing advertisements inserted into the beginning of the books.

I like the idea of having the option of getting a book for free with ads or being able to pay to opt out. To me it is the same as when you watch a video or full episode of a television program on the network sites like, etc. We have all become accustomed to watching a 30-second ad at the beginning and a few times throughout the program. We accept this in exchange for the convenience of seeing the show whenever we want from anywhere we want.

If this is what it's going to take to get a book for free knowing that it keeps publishers in business and authors making money, then I am all for it. I understand the revenue model. Publishers and authors have to make money for their time and talent. As sales of hard cover books decrease, so do higher revenues and with this comes the need to adapt.

As I see it we are going to pay in one way or another. We can either pay with our wallets or pay with our time and attention. With this model we actually have a choice. We already sit through numerous commercials about upcoming movies when we pay $10-$12 just to walk into the theater. Theater owners are not getting rich these days so it makes sense that they get paid from businesses and studios to offset the smaller audiences.

As an author and an avid reader I want the publishers to stay around for a long time. The environment is changing and we need to grow to support a system that works for everyone. Several years ago when Napster showed up the "everything should be free" mentality started taking hold. It was not serving anyone. People deserve to get paid for their creativity, energy and output. We all want to be compensated for what we produce and if that is the product model we are working under, where does free show up?

I had a friend whose boss believed in paying his staff well (even though he didn't) and explained his generous philosophy with, "if you pay peanuts you get monkeys." It was his way of saying you get what you pay for. What are you willing to pay for? Are you willing to see a couple of ads in order to read a book for free? Are you willing to pay not to see them?

To read more about the free e-book program, read "Free E-Books, With a Catch - Advertising."

Arielle Ford has launched the careers of many NY Times bestselling authors including Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Neale Donald Walsch & Debbie Ford. She is a former book publicist, literary agent and the author of seven books. To learn how to get started writing a book please visit: .