Originally Posted by carandol
... it implies that you think less of people who would give money to an author out of a sense of moral obligation rather than contractual necessity.
I just think that there shouldn't be a sense of moral obligation in a situation where a book is clearly distributed as a free
book. I suppose I do think less of someone who would give money to a publisher for a free book that was only made free in the hope of making more money on non-free book sales. To claim that there exists a moral obligation in this context supposes that Baen is making their books available for free with the implicit condition that we should buy them if we like them. But there is no such condition, neither implicit nor explicit. That's why it's called the Free Library.
By the way, let me point out that the sense of corresponding moral obligation that arises from a gift is a well-known sales technique. A car salesman will offer you a small gift, like movie tickets, and the small feeling that you should compensate him may be just enough to push you to buy a car, since you're in the market for one.
Another thought comes to mind, since you're talking about moral obligations. I give a certain amount of money to humanitarian organizations every month. This I do out of moral obligation, because I feel I have the obligation to help those in need. However, when it comes to for-profit companies, such as Baen publishing, I would question my priorities if I felt the same moral obligation. You mentioned the word "greed," and seem to have accorded it a very broad meaning, so let me ask you this: Who is more greedy, the person who requires something in return for the money he gives freely, such as a book, or the person who gives freely expecting nothing in return, as one would with a charitable organization? And since I'm getting carried away here, let me ask you another question: When you take a friend out for dinner, do you expect him to take you out some other time in return? Would you consider him greedy if he didn't take you out?