Home > public stupidity, publishing > if v-apple != v-orange then next dumb-idea

if v-apple != v-orange then next dumb-idea

December 16, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Via GalleyCat on Twitter, I read of this strange notion:

Sony’s Haber compares LPs to CD transition–sudden resale of back catalog in new format–to publishing today. #ebooksummit

Uh … I hope he isn’t seriously expecting people to buy that one. And that he’s not saying what I think he’s saying.

Books differ from LPs, CDs and mp3s in several important ways which make these kinds of comparisons just plain silly.

Books are human-readable. Unlike LPs, you don’t need special equipment to decode the information recorded therein. Also, they have a very long life — unlike LPs, they don’t scratch and warp.

Well, they do, but you can still read them afterwards.

Furthermore, many people don’t re-read books. But we listen to records* more than once — with the possible exception of those bought by well-meaning aunts.

Those back catalogue sales were driven by people replacing LPs. People replaced their LP catalogues because their LPs were scratched, warped, and wearing out, because CDs were viewed at the time as having superior sound, because they didn’t want to fix their turntable when it broke, and so on.

I can’t see any compelling reason for a consumer to replace his existing books — human-readable, near-permanent media — with e-books just because he buys a shiny new reader. Chances are, you don’t want to re-read them; if you do, they’re on the shelf.

This expectation of a sudden resale of the back catalogue, it seems to me, is nothing but goofy tech boosterism. It seems far more likely that the back catalogue will continue to sell at the same rate, but with an increasing share of the new format.


* if v-phrase = “listen to records” then message “You’re showing your age again, dude.”

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