that's a good point. O'Reilly says in his article that "The simplest way to get customers to stop trading illicit digital copies of music and movies is to give those customers a legitimate alternative, at a fair price." a few publishers are smart enough to see this (other than O'Reilly, baen is the obvious example), and they are doing very well. O'Reilly also says :
Lesson 6: "Free" is eventually replaced by a higher-quality paid service:
(...) Services like Kazaa flourish in the absence of competitive alternatives. I confidently predict that once the music industry provides a service that provides access to all the same songs, freedom from onerous copy-restriction, more accurate metadata and other added value, there will be hundreds of millions of paying subscribers. That is, unless they wait too long, in which case, Kazaa itself will start to offer (and charge for) these advantages. (Or would, in the absence of legal challenges.) Much as AOL, MSN, Yahoo!, Cnet, and many others have collectively built a multi-billion dollar media business on the "free" web, "publishers" will evolve on file sharing networks.
Why would you pay for a song that you could get for free? For the same reason that you will buy a book that you could borrow from the public library or buy a DVD of a movie that you could watch on television or rent for the weekend. Convenience, ease-of-use, selection, ability to find what you want, and for enthusiasts, the sheer pleasure of owning something you treasure.
The current experience of online file sharing services is mediocre at best. Students and others with time on their hands may find them adequate. But they leave much to be desired, with redundant copies of uneven quality, intermittent availability of some works, incorrect identification of artist or song, and many other quality problems.
Opponents may argue that the Web demonstrates precisely what they are afraid of, that content on the Web is "free", that advertising is an insufficient revenue model for content providers, and that subscription models have not been successful. However, I will argue that the story is still unfinished.
Subscription sites are on the rise. Computer industry professionals can be seen as the "early adopters" in this market. For example, O'Reilly's Safari Books Online is growing at 30 percent a month, and now represents a multi-million dollar revenue stream for us and other participating publishers. (...)
how long do you think it will be before we begin to see more of this in the publishing industry ?