Worth Every Penny…

A confluence of things, today. You may or may not know this, but we here at FtB are testing a new paid-subscription, ad-free version for your reading pleasure. Apparently, the place looks much nicer without ads. Ads never bothered me, though, aside from the few places around where, say, my verses have been copied without my permission and show up on a page with multiple pop-up ads that can’t be easily dismissed. That, yeah, bothers me.

Which leads to the next thing–a New York Times opinion piece with the remarkable notion that writers, artists, photographers and the like ought to be paid for what they do. Even *gasp* on the internet!

Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge. I now contribute to some of the most prestigious online publications in the English-speaking world, for which I am paid the same amount as, if not less than, I was paid by my local alternative weekly when I sold my first piece of writing for print in 1989. More recently, I had the essay equivalent of a hit single — endlessly linked to, forwarded and reposted. A friend of mine joked, wistfully, “If you had a dime for every time someone posted that …” Calculating the theoretical sum of those dimes, it didn’t seem all that funny.

Reading through some of the comments on that piece, I realize I have it better than most. With my readership here, I am making big bucks–approximately one dollar per post. And I hope to have my second big collection of verses out in time for Cephalopodmas shopping, and that should sell, with luck, a few dozen copies. And that honestly puts me ahead of a lot of the commenters’ stories.

I don’t know if it will be approved, but I left the following comment myself (from a few years ago):

I’d shill for a shilling
But no one is willing
To pay for the things that I write.
I’d rant and I’d holler
For minimum dollar
But no one is offering, quite.
A couple of euros
To stuff in my bureau’s
Sufficient for verses like these;
Though some call it whoring,
I’m begging–imploring–
Come, sully my principles, please!
If someone would shell out,
I’d promise to sell out–
My standards, I’ll keep in my purse–
For now, though, I’m sighing
Cos no one is buying…
And all I can write is Free Verse.


  1. Pliny the in Between says

    It’s an interesting issue Cuttlefish. In my own case, the cartoons are more therapy and an outlet than anything ever intended to be commercial. I suppose it is is in some ways like the old penny anthology mags where budding artists could try to get noticed as part of working their way toward a paying gig.

  2. Cuttlefish says

    Oh, my, I would never have said my writing was intended to be commercial!

    I suppose if I wanted to do something creative that would actually make money, I’d go back to cooking. Not much money to be made, but I wouldn’t starve.

  3. haitied says

    I really Liked the passion of that interview. It’s one hundred percent true. Everyone wants shit for free and for some fucking absurd reason the Richest people there are get the most shit for free. . . Make some fucking sense out of that.

  4. says

    The spread of the Internet was a deliberate infection
    By the notion that everything online is free, a direction
    Of free entertainments, free downloads, free data
    To get us addicted, so we could be exploited lata.

    Whether with games or with porn or with music or chatter
    Or photos or sports or films or comedy patter,
    It’s all free, free, free, free so they can hit us with versions
    Of ads from the first tiny blurbs to huge noisy incursions.

    Targeted marketing invades and crawls over our screen,
    This assault on our eyeballs is the price we pay for what’s seen.
    They pop out all over and preempt our view of free stuff,
    So I”ll gladly pay to get free — of ads I’ve had friggin’ enough!

  5. says

    Aye, the first site I willingly bribed to be ad-free was dictionary.com. This pay for non-ads is an interesting experiment in free enterprise. If we like what we get from Cuttlefish and other sites we treasure, a paid subscription is the right and logical way. If the price is too stiff, we just will have to do without, like other luxuries we eschew.

    The $30 a year is less than a dime a day… but the money is only half the cost. We also pay with the time we put into perusal. There is a limit to how much we can invest on all that the Web tempts us with. Natural selection will win out again. Thanks, Cuttlefish, for being here. Yes, intellectual output should be rewarded. That’s why I do feed your tip jar. If your two million other readers would all do the same, ah, life would be fair. Hmmm… then we fans should also be paid for our laudatory comments. Fair enough?

    I continue to refuse to run ads on my own website. Ads would totally mess up my highly idiosyncratic layouts. If folks will just buy my work, that’s reward enough.

  6. Cuttlefish says

    Thanks so much, memehunter, for your generous tip! As per my policy, this is gonna keep my engraver busy for a while!

  7. left0ver1under says

    I mentioned to Jason (via email) one problem which he said is being addressed or worked on.

    Paying and reading ad free won’t be difficult, but for those who want to post comments anonymously or pseduononymously, going ad-free will be difficult. At some point, names and credit cards will be linked to accounts on the site, and people might not be willing to do that. One option individuals can do (sans any efforts in FTB’s web design) is to pay and read ad-free, but log in and post in a second tab or browser where you will see ads.

    One would hope a solution is found, because people might not be willing to pay if they don’t get one of the benefits of paying.

  8. Trebuchet says

    @7: I don’t see that as being a problem. FTB has had my main e-mail address since the first time I logged in, and I’ve exchanged e-mails (about ads, ironically) where they see my real name. I’m not a PayPal user, but don’t they have to have a credit card set up?

    I’d sign up for the ad-free in a heartbeat if I had another option.

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