Why TS/TSA should make electronic versions of publications available for free?
The current situation regarding electronic version of SD Commentaries (SDC) has brought focus on the need for the publications to be made available as pdf files.
In the case of SDC, due to the pricey hard copy publication, someone has taken the trouble to scan it to a pdf file and make it available on Internet. Since the copyright holder objected to it, it was removed from the website. But in the interval between the posting and removal, it is highly likely that many theosophists would have downloaded it. Once this is done, surely it is privately circulated. Now that the genii is out of the box, nothing can be done to put it back.
We have seen some comments justifying the high price of the book and even going as far to say such priceless information should not be made available to the world very easily. These arguments do not hold water. Nothing really occult can be communicated in print. You will find this discussed in the ML to AP Sinnett.
Firstly, there are legit reasons to have an electronic copies for personal use. Let us say you are traveling on work or vacation and you want to read it. You may not want to carry a bulky book. You want to store the electronic copy on your netbook or notebook and this is quite legit if you have already purchased a hard copy. For love or money, you cannot get an electronic copy. So it is more likely that you get hold of an electronic copy from whatever source and load it into your computer.
Today’s publishing methodology lends itself to make electronic copy easily available. Books are written using word processors and an electronic version is produced. It is then sent to the printer to print and bind the hard copy.
From the electronic word processor version to pdf file (pdf is the most widely used format for documents), it is only a click away. Eureka!; within two to three minutes, the computer creates the pdf file.
In the above process, withholding the electronic copy from circulation does not help; especially in theosophical matters where the objective is to make theosophical information easily available to everyone and hopefully would transform the personal lives of some. Making electronic copy available will go a long way to help theosophists around the world, especially in the east where people cannot afford to buy expensive books.
TS, was once at the forefront of the issues of the world. It is time to be pro-active and make all publications, including new theosophical ones such as the HPB letters and Mahatma Letters commentary, available in electronic form free to theosophists. The man or the woman in the street is not going to read them. It is theosophists who are interested in them and TS has a duty towards them. Such a move can only help theosophical movement and not hurt it.
I hope the leaders wake up and do the right thing. Longer you wait, scanning machines will solve the problem for TS/TSA, whether one likes it or not.