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the alexander library in cyberspace

riding through the vine fields on the way up to kahlenburg today i was just thinking what preposterous prices newspapers like the nytimes charge for archived articles. i mean if you’re preparing a client presentation in an advertising agency sure maybe you’d spend the company money at $3/pop (for a newspaper article?).

but nobody is going to spend their own money at those rates. thus an enormous amount of knowledge is effectively lost to humanity. or at least buried.

if we are to rebuild the alexander library in cyberspace, it must be possible to access copyright materials for minimal cost. fortunately there are a good few working at it in their spare time. or using their institutional platform to advance the cause as far away as australia. and not all of these cultural samaritans are rummaging in dusty archives. some are doing amazing work with contemporary authors.

if i knew that i would be charged from 10¢ to 25¢ per article, i would spend a lot more time in the newspaper archives. i’d spend a good ten dollars per month on archived materials. sure and certain. i don’t think i’m alone. this would be a huge revenue source for the publications.

as soon as they get off of their punishing corporate rates. subscribe you say? i travel all over the world. i’d be lucky to see two months of a year’s subscription. and there’s too much to subscribe to it all.

the trick is micropayments of course. happily advances are being made.

like an eBay for the written word, RedPaper launched in July and has 26,000 members who buy and sell prose, poetry and essays that each cost less than $1.

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