Libros de texto gratis

(mi columna de este domingo en La Capital)

Chau apuntes

Eduardo Remolins

El modelo es bastante conocido en el mundo de los diarios y las revistas. Hay periódicos gratuitos (que se financian exclusivamente por la publicidad que venden), en 52 países del mundo. En algunos (cómo España, Portugal, Dinamarca e Islandia) se distribuyen, de lunes a domingo, más diarios gratuitos que pagos.

Entre las editoriales de revistas pasa algo similar (¿quién no recibe alguna revista gratuita en su casa?) y el fenómeno ya excede a las editoriales pequeñas o los “house organ” de las empresas, incluyendo las revistas de los aviones. Hay editoriales que producen publicaciones similares en calidad a las principales de cada segmento, como la británica Sport (http://www.sport-magazine.co.uk/), la revista de deportes de mayor circulación en la isla.

Pero lo que es toda una novedad es que los libros sean gratuitos porque traen publicidad. Freeload Press (http://www.freeloadpress.com/) es una empresa que ofrece eso: libros gratis.

Es cierto que están en formato electrónico (son “eBooks”), y es cierto que regalar eBooks no es ninguna novedad en Internet.

Pero menos común es el hecho de que los libros sean textos para estudiantes universitarios. “La industria de los libros de texto está cambiando”, avisan en el sitio de Freeload Press. Según ellos un estudiante universitario americano gasta un promedio de US$ 900 al año en libros (¿y cuánto gastan los nuestros en fotocopias?). El ideal de Freeload es que gasten $0.

La empresa cuenta, sin embargo, con un modelo de ingresos basado, ¡adivinaron!, en la publicidad. Al final de cada capítulo hay avisos de los patrocinantes de Freeload. Además para comenzar a usar el sistema hay que registrarse y llenar una pequeña encuesta para algún patrocinante. Este tipo de toma de información del consumidor suele ser pagada por las empresas. Sin embargo, tomando todo en cuenta, el sistema es extremadamente conveniente.

¿Es replicable el modelo en estas latitudes? Es posible, aunque lo más interesante pueden ser las adaptaciones. ¿Qué sucedería, por ejemplo, si los escritores en lugar de editoriales buscaran sponsors?

75 pensamientos sobre “Libros de texto gratis”

  1. Muy buen artículo, Eduardo. Me llevó a releer el de Chris Anderson sobre la “economía de lo gratuito”. El modelo de regalar el contenido no sólo puede sustentarse con ingresos por publicidad. Hay otros modelos, como el del “freemium” donde el usuario básico accede al contenido gratis, pero un grupo de usuarios más sofisticados o muy interesados en profundizar compren la versión paga que entregue esas ventajas. En mis pagos también he visto a un par de consultores dispuestos a invertir en ediciones de libros (en papel) y regalarlos a modo de subsidio cruzado. El negocio es que el lector “compre” al consultor en persona.

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