I think it's sad that so much high-quality writing has been rejected by the publishing industry. Authors turn to podcasting so their work can see the light of day but just because Harper or Tor or whoever didn't put it in a shelf (yet) doesn't mean the work has no monetary value.
When that much quality content has been overlooked and becomes available for free……. why would someone bother to pay? They can go elsewhere.
If I added up the time it took me to write, revise, record, edit, and upload the first audio chapter of Lightning Spliced it would be 40 hours or more. People pay 89 cents for a taco but expect the writing to be free?
When I was in college, I downloaded a lot of music and anime. I had no money–I wasn't going to buy it anyway but that gave me the opportunity to fall in love with bands. Now that I have a job, I can buy every album. Even better, we have itunes. I live in a tiny apartment so I have no room for CDs plus ripping them to mp3 form for my player is a pain. itunes offers a huge library of music at $1-2 per song. It's absolutely worth the dollar just to avoid the pain in the ass that downloading can be ^_~
But podcasting is easy, too easy. Maybe people wouldn't pay. I would. I do want an author to respect my taste enough to give me maybe three chapters as a sample before I start paying. After that, I would jump at the chance to pay per episode. When I was listening to 7th Son, I would get annoyed at the author's generosity. Damnit, I wanted to pay him for his work but he didn't have a Paypal donation button, and when shirts based on the story went on sale he refused to take his commission on them so the money went strictly to manufacturing costs. Now that the book is in print, no one can find it in Savannah because I bought all the copies. SO THERE. TAKE THE MONEY, YOU HAVE NO CHOICE!
.25 cents for a chapter is nothing yet it adds into $10 for a 40 chapter book and an author doesn't necessarily need a go-between taking a cut of that. Hell, I'd pay $1 a chapter… that's half an hour of content compared with two minutes for a song. Authors could offer the whole with some bonus content for a discounted price. I love the idea of installments because I'm poor. I end up with decisions like…should I buy chicken or should I buy a book? An installment plan would allow me to get what I can afford when I can afford it and if I get to the middle and find out the book sucks, I can stop paying! It irritates me to no end when I buy a book based on the pitch then find out the plot goes nowhere or the writing is garbled or I just plain don't like it.
Maybe if more writers would stand up for the value of their work, people wouldn't be tempted to look elsewhere for free stories. There's a lot of free music from unknown bands out there……and a lot of it is crappy :P I'd rather pay for quality than get crap for free.
But I'm a writer…. I understand the value of creativity and the ass-load of time it takes to write and podcast a book. Not everyone has that mentality. If 10% of people are content creators and 90% are consumers…maybe very few people have that view.
Whether the writing has immediate monetary value is not necessarily the point here. Of course it does, that should be obvious.
The bigger question in this — is it worth it?
Is it better for the author to be paid in money or in listeners?
When authors charge for their work, they'll lose listeners. They lose that word-of-mouth advertising which could gain an exponential amount of new consumers. These can then be translated into revenue upon a book release. But how many listeners, once they've heard the book, will decide not to buy it because they don't need to read a story they already know?
I have no answers, only questions. I think a statistical study would be fascinating and incredibly useful. Sure hope someone with better math skills than me is working on it (: