The Cost of Free

Last week I got back from a three week trip to South Africa, Mozambique and (briefly) Swaziland. I bought books (of course), and tried to get a sense for these countries and cultures. As you might expect, crossing the border from South Africa into Mozambique we saw quite a stark economic contrast. Where South Africa appears very western, despite its significant problems, Mozambique faces significant economic challenges and is sixth to last on the Human Development Index.

These economic issues are, of course, a major problem for the expansion of Mormon culture. Mormonism continues to expand quickly in less developed countries, but our culture isn’t keeping up with that expansion. LDS books, films, music and other cultural elements are largely not available outside the US and Canada, leading many to suggest a radical solution:

Just give these products away for free!

Unfortunately, I don’t think this will work in the long run. Its not sustainable, it doesn’t help local members grow, and it often cheats authors and producers of any way to make a living from their work.

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