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Stop Stealing Dreams is closing in on half a million readers since I launched it eight days ago. There are about 100,000 Google matches for the phrase, up from four when I published it. What’s fascinating to me is how visible the spread of an idea is now, how much more quickly and socially we share something that resonates.
Here’s a live discussion scheduled for tonight that a reader and blogger is organizing with some passionate experts.
And of course, several teachers and parents and administrators have proudly announced that they refuse to read it because they think they know what it says and they don’t agree with it. Some things don’t change.
The math for an author that wants to spur a conversation is pretty thought-provoking. Instead of the 3,000 to 15,000 people a book-for-sale might reach in a week (if it were a national bestseller), a free book transcends the financial and physical ballast it carries and spreads further and faster. It also calls the bluff of those that might be inclined to avoid it, as it removes excuses of access or cost.
There’s no doubt that authors need to get paid. But when there’s no scarcity of things to read, it’s not clear that readers care. More and more of the ideas we talk about are starting out as free (blog posts, TED talks, ebooks, etc.) and that makes it harder than ever to make a similar impact with a traditional book.