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The Wealth of LibriVox, Reason, May 2007

My story on LibriVox in Reason is online:

In the dim, humid basement of his Maryland home, Michael Scherer, a tall 38-year-old with the long, square beard of a mandolin player or a monk, leans toward a rebuilt Russian tube microphone, desperate for silence so he can begin recording a 200-year-old essay by an American founding father. Even in the makeshift studio he has constructed, with thick blankets hanging from nails in the joists and the basement windows plugged with fiberglass, the sounds of lawnmowers, car alarms, birds, air conditioners, and children kicking balls in the street still intrude. “I have to hold on a minute here—there’s a, there’s a truck,” he says. A few seconds later, the truck passes, and he reads in his deep, resonant voice, “The Federalist.” He stops, clears his throat, and begins again. “The Federalist, No. 19.”

Read the rest here. And please note this correction.

This was a frustrating story to do, simply because the magazine that first assigned it bobbled it hopelessly. But looking back, I’m glad I did it. Hugh is a great guy, and so are the other LibriVoxers I talked to or met. We listened to a couple audiobooks on our road trip in December. More importantly, it forced me to rethink what I do as a writer and what the future of my current intellectual property model is. I haven’t fully realized all the implications here, but I’m getting to implement some things in marketing Um…

I also became more interested in rights management for culture producers — and consumers, too, for that matter. Every dollar you spend on culture and information products is an intellectual property decision. That means that listening to LibriVox is akin to shopping at Whole Foods (or, even better, your local farmer’s market) in that you’ve made a conscious decision that the origins of this particular commodity matter to you.

And really, all this is why I love this writing thing. To be in the world and be changed.