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Information wants to be expensive, information wants to be free

"On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other."

Stewart Brand said that in 1985 - and that conflict seems more central than ever across publishing right now. The answer would appear to neither be one extreme or another but a balancing act - between product and service; between free and paid.

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“A reference book is essentially a user interface to information.”

I first heard of tech publisher and general pioneer Tim O’Reilly when someone pointed out that putting fruit and non-finance-like items on our cover was similar to O'Reilly's habit of putting animals on their coding books. When I read his line “a reference book is essentially a user interface to information” from 1995 ( it spoke to the web designer in me. It helped me imagine how that explaining stuff through text well is as much a user interface issue as about writing. Some things are best read from start to finish, perhaps on a train or curled up on the sofa, and they might need wide margins so you can write notes. Others demand that you can dip in and out of them quickly, finding what you want at the quickest speed. They are dipped in-and-out-of, searched, bookmarked, with important passages added to notebooks, emailed to collaborators or shared with friends.

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Background: Where it all began

You could say the Film Finance Handbook started as a 20-page free pamphlet, made by Chris Chandler for the BFI. As a teenager  in 1999, I turned it into a 40-odd page free funding section of a new website, Netribution (the name was a reference to net distribution of films - our original, over-eager, business plan). A year later this had become an unrecognisable 150 page guide mostly updated by a volunteer (Stephen Salter). A few years after that, after turning down an offer from Focal Press with an advance to self-publish it with another website (Shooting People), I took the content offline.

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I read your book cover to cover… great insights & significant clarity on a very complex subject.

Duncan Cork, CEO

An indispensable guide

BBC Film Network

Producers should arm themselves with this comprehensive, well written guide.

Tim Adler, former editor, Screen Finance & Deadline Hollywood London

You can't think about funding without it

Chris Jones, Director, author & head of London Screenwriters Festival