Friday, December 4, 2009

Scrooge for a Buck

,Talk about monetizing. Talk about commercializing the Christmas season. Here comes Canadian actor Greg Wagland and he's put out a podcast of his reading of the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol just in time for the holiday season. There are five staves; you can download four for free, and the fifth for the nominal fee of one dollar.

Wagland's website gives you all the information you need to download or play the four free episodes, as well as how to get him his dollar through PayPal. It also makes clear that at a dollar, any and all downloaders should recognize that they are indeed getting themselves one hell of a bargain. Dripping with self deprecating irony, he says: "$1 seems to be pitching it about right. You wouldn’t expect Patrick Stewart for less than $6, Kermit for sub $10. Me, the duvet, a poor microphone and free white noise is just about what the market can stand; go on, treat yourself, it’s Christmas."

I am not one to argue the point. For the money one is getting nearly five hours of entertainment. Wagland is a professional and reads very well. There should be no real objection to professional being paid for what they do. Besides he says he's giving half of what he gets to charity. (Are there no workhouses? Come to think of it, I guess not.) Moreover, he is up front about it. He doesn't try to suck you in with a free come on and then slam you over the head for a fortune to find out what on earth happens to old Scrooge.

The iTunes site however is a different story. It is entirely possible to come to this site if you haven't visited the actor's site and start downloading without ever knowing that there is a charge to get the end. In fact, the lone reviewer complains that the podcast is missing the end of the story. What happens to Tiny Tim? Does he die? What happens to Ebenezer? Here is a poor downloader who may never find out; indeed he may never even know that if he pays his dollar through his friends at PayPal the answers are waiting.

So while we may not begrudge Wagland his 'business,' iTunes is another story. iTunes is the Grinch in this Christmas story.

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