Monday, December 12, 2011

Have you heard about Freemium in China?

There's a new publishing model going on in China called Freemium. The definition of Freemium (from Wikipediais a business model that works by offering a product or service free of charge (typically digital offerings such as software, content, games, web services or other) while charging a premium for advanced features, functionality, or related products and services.

The system in China works like this: 

  • Authors write their stories in serial and post it on a Freemium site on Internet.
  • Readers rank the stories (similar to ranking products on
  • Once the author's story gets enough readers, the story is moved to the VIP area on the site where readers have to pay money to read further installments. 

This model is huge in China. One author has made more than $152,000 so far, TV serials have been developed from these Freemium books, and readers are clamoring for more. Currently, more than 195 million people in China are hooked on Freemium.

Personally, I'm not sure how I feel about this model. In one way, it's another gatekeeper. You have to publish your work on someone else's site for free - maybe you get paid, maybe you don't. Meanwhile, how much money is the owner of the site making by hosting the Freemium site? Would it be better for me to host my own site, write, sell products and ads, and make all the money myself? Of course, that's time off from writing. The positive thing about Freemium is that the people reading the books determine which books get published. It might open up the book world to a lot of new writers that will never be seen otherwise. 

What about you? Do you see Freemium working in America? What would it look like here? How would it affect you as a writer here in America?