Books, Beer and Wine: GRATIS ET LIBRE

free beer

Along wine, in my ideal and perhaps idealistic world, books too should be free, free for all to share and enjoy.

As a freelance wine writer who also chips in at a winery, I know that such freeware of wine tanks and tomes would upset wine producers and anyone who makes a living from selling a writer’s thoughts, either prose captured on paper, the traditional way, or bits and bytes in waiting in the virtual cloud, in suspension to transpire in copy on anyone’s screen somewhere, anywhere, anytime at the click of a button (which would coincidentally also trigger some Google ads perhaps).

If wine and books were free, how would winemakers, publishers and thus I make a living?

Perhaps a dreamer I am and there “ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. But does that per se have to mean that we can never get any for free at all?

The idea is not all that revolutionary and has been tried before.

An experiment called ‘Free Beer’ comes to mind. What makes ‘Free Beer’ free is the same thing that makes free software free: its recipe is open and licensed freely. Anyone can make improvements to the brewing process of the beer in question. But anyone who distributes an improved version must release the production changes as well.The beer is not sold for free but its production protocol is shared at no charge.

Gratis versus libre is the distinction between two meanings of the English word “free”; namely, “for zero price” (gratis) and “with few or no restrictions” (libre).

The ambiguity of “free” can cause issues where the distinction is important.

That’s an idea and a whole discussion I feel still has to be put to the fore and not in the least at bloggers’ conferences and seminars about wine and the written word.

Pro bono. “Free beer – or wine” versus “Free books – or speech”.

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