A New Model for Legal Publishing

I came across the following enthusiastic review of a new book on the law of Bail:

Faris on Bail is the most extensive and insightful book written on the law and practice of bail in Victoria. It is clearly written and structured and includes a reference and link to every relevant case on the topic. It provides lawyers and judges with a complete resource on the relevant law and is one of the few legal publications that provides an exhaustive treatment of a subject matter.

Well what’s unusual about that, you might ask.

Legal publishing in jurisdictions like Victoria – or Canadian provinces for that matter – relies on legal academics or practising lawyers who work hard to write a book, which their publishers will know have very limited sales potential. We simply don’t have that large a market and a book which sells in the high hundreds is a best seller. I’ve noticed lots of authors simply don’t want the meagre royalties and donate them to charity.

What’s unique about Faris on Bail is that the author, Australian blogger Peter Faris [slogan Fair Dinkum Politically Incorrect] decided that the Salvation Army was a worthy recipient of the revenues on his book, that he could reach the audience for his book via the web and that a legal publisher was an intermediary he was prepared to forego.

Friday’s Business Section of the Australian has the story:

Faris fair

PETER Faris QC is one of those delightful lawyers who loves stirring. Just when you think he might be about to slow down, he does something or says something that is guaranteed to make trouble for someone who needs it.

[H]is latest target is the legal publishing industry that makes a very nice living by flogging overpriced law books to a captive market.

The publishers will have kittens when they become aware what Faris has done: he has written and published a legal text on Victoria’s bail laws — and he is giving it away online as a free PDF download.

It’s a deal the publishing industry can’t hope to match, particularly as he plans to issue updates about once a month — also for free.

The only time he even mentions money is when he suggests that those who download Faris on Bail might like to make a donation to the Salvation Army.

“The Salvos do a great job in the criminal courts. As this book is free, you may like to make a tax deductible donation to the Salvation Army,” he says on his website.

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