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The Apple Tablet Event?

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Alas, no ear buds. Also no cute chamois cloth like the one that comes with the new iMac.

 

These cheapskate moves have caused understandable griping among the iPad user community. So far, Apple remains unmoved....

 

I bet your iPod/iPhone buds work with the iPad, though. Also any Bluetooth headphones you may have.

 

Stupidly, I had not realized that you were using an iPad with Tiger. How is that working? Can you transfer files, etc.?

Best,

M

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Alas, no ear buds. Also no cute chamois cloth like the one that comes with the new iMac.

These cheapskate moves have caused understandable griping among the iPad user community. So far, Apple remains unmoved....

They don't even mention in the adds that you need Mac OS X version 10.5.8 or later; Windows 7; Windows Vista; Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 3 or later, to initialize the tablet. So it's not fully stand alone as the commercials imply. And no chamois! Sacré bleu!

 

I bet your iPod/iPhone buds work with the iPad, though. Also any Bluetooth headphones you may have.

Yes. My 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack works fine. And there's a fairly nice speaker so I didn't really miss the missing ear buds until now.

 

Stupidly, I had not realized that you were using an iPad with Tiger. How is that working? Can you transfer files, etc.?

Stop that! There's noting stupid about not thinking of me while you're enjoying your wonderful new machine. (But thank you. :P) Fortunately, I know many early adopters and many Snow Leopards, so I have no problems moving stuff around. Still, yes, it is becoming harder and harder holding out for exactly what I want. Since I'm running Tiger on an iMac PowerPC G5, I will have to buy a whole new machine (and some new peripherals) to upgrade my OS. (Damn Apple and their brilliant money-making schemes!) But this is my decision and I'm going to try to live with it. One thing is a good bet, by the next hardware or OS release I'm going to cave.

 

Save The Tiger!

- Thoth.

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Or this genuine tug-at-the-heartstrings video, in which a nearly blind 99-year-old woman picks up her first computer, an iPad, and figures out how to use it in about 10 seconds flat. Because she can adjust the type size to a level she can see, she can go back to writing poetry and reading, her two favorite pursuits.

 

The guys at Apple must be glowing. You can't buy publicity like that for all the spare change in Silicon Valley. :)

M

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Or this genuine tug-at-the-heartstrings video, in which a nearly blind 99-year-old woman picks up her first computer, an iPad, and figures out how to use it in about 10 seconds flat. Because she can adjust the type size to a level she can see, she can go back to writing poetry and reading, her two favorite pursuits.

 

The guys at Apple must be glowing. You can't buy publicity like that for all the spare change in Silicon Valley. :)

M

 

 

Awwwwwwww!! That's so awesome!

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Or this genuine tug-at-the-heartstrings video, in which a nearly blind 99-year-old woman picks up her first computer, an iPad, and figures out how to use it in about 10 seconds flat. Because she can adjust the type size to a level she can see, she can go back to writing poetry and reading, her two favorite pursuits.

 

The guys at Apple must be glowing. You can't buy publicity like that for all the spare change in Silicon Valley. :)

M

I liked the little tribute at the end.

Yes, M, even Apple with all their billions can't buy publicity like that.

 

Wiping away the tears.

- Thoth.

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Agreed, it's awesome. :)

 

This, however, is not "awesome"...but it's an incredibly interesting and well reasoned article about the state of the publishing industry and how the big three (Apple, Amazon, Google) are playing a part in it's future. I'm not sure I agree with the conclusion (such as it is, more of a "who knows" than an analysis) but the rest of the article is so well done, it's worth a read. It's not short, however.

 

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/04...currentPage=all

 

Orren

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Orren, thanks for the link. I just now finished reading the article in print. I actually found it somewhat disappointing, because it seems to me to miss the point of ebooks. Admittedly, many publishers are missing the point, too.

 

But, really, why should an ebook cost more than $9.99? Why should it cost more than a paperback? Wouldn't a reasonable price be, say, 10% less than the paperback equivalent (to account for not having to pay for paper, printing, and distribution--not to mention that 40% of books that get shipped back and pulped)? Anything over that should go to the author, because editing, acquisition, and marketing costs don't vary between paperback and ebook (or between paperback and hard cover, for that matter). If Random House or whoever can afford to publish my book as a paperback for $6.99, then it can. The fact that the publisher counts on publishing a certain number of books as hard covers for $25 is a relic of the pre-digital age. Sell 20,000 ebooks for $5, and you made $100,000. Sell 1,000 books for $25, and you did one-quarter as well. The day a publisher figures that out, this whole discussion becomes moot. (Amazon.com already has. If it hadn't, would the "Big Six" be livid)?

 

The iPad is actually much better for readers than for publishers, because it breaks the monopoly of eBookstore X. Kindle books already display just fine, as do iBooks, ePub, and converted MOBI and HTML files. B&N has also promised an iPad app. Then the big ebookstores will have to compete with one another or risk losing customers.

 

Enough ranting. My point was just that I would have liked to see more of these issues raised in Ken Auletta's article. Even so, it was interesting--as much for what it didn't say as for what it did.

Best,

M

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...My point was just that I would have liked to see more of these issues raised in Ken Auletta's article. Even so, it was interesting--as much for what it didn't say as for what it did.

Thanks for the link, Orren.

 

Once upon a time an early pregnancy was determined by killing a rabbit and examining its entrails (actually its ovaries). Doctors and labs figured out how to do this $200 test in a purely chemical manner leading to (for example) First Response Early Result Pregnancy Tests at 3 tests for $17, or (for example) 25 Pregnancy Test Strips for $6.00 on Amazon. I remember the row from the medical community, foreseeing doom and gloom for women and the medical establishment. I remember cheers from women in the mid-1970s when the first home test kit for hCG were released.

 

So why the heck am I reminded of this? I am reminded of this because this is always the way of things. First the innovation threatens the profitable status quo. Then, once enough people started selling the innovation, the price is driven down. I firmly believe that the parallels apply and the magic price for electronic books have yet to be reached.

 

The iPad, as much fun as it is, hasn't yet replace the sight, feel and smell of a good hardcover. I still want a way to back up to an independent physical medium so I can secure or even sell what I purchase. I still want ... what I can do with a book. But I take some comfort in the thought that this innovation is still working itself out.

- Thoth

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Once upon a time an early pregnancy was determined by killing a rabbit and examining its entrails (actually its ovaries).

 

I'm confused. Do you mean "detected?"

 

Or should I just kill a rabbit and find out for myself?

 

Orren "Bugs had it coming..." Merton

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Orren "Bugs had it coming..." Merton

 

I don't think Bugs has ovaries for you to examine.... just sayin'

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I don't think Bugs has ovaries for you to examine.... just sayin'

 

This is why I would have made such a bad doctor/healer/shaman/whatever back in those days. I'd be killin' the wrong sex o' bunny!

 

Orren

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Agreed, it's awesome. :)

 

This, however, is not "awesome"...but it's an incredibly interesting and well reasoned article about the state of the publishing industry and how the big three (Apple, Amazon, Google) are playing a part in it's future. I'm not sure I agree with the conclusion (such as it is, more of a "who knows" than an analysis) but the rest of the article is so well done, it's worth a read. It's not short, however.

 

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/04...currentPage=all

 

Orren

That was quite the article. Very interesting.

 

Orren, thanks for the link. I just now finished reading the article in print. I actually found it somewhat disappointing, because it seems to me to miss the point of ebooks. Admittedly, many publishers are missing the point, too.

 

But, really, why should an ebook cost more than $9.99? Why should it cost more than a paperback? Wouldn't a reasonable price be, say, 10% less than the paperback equivalent (to account for not having to pay for paper, printing, and distribution--not to mention that 40% of books that get shipped back and pulped)? Anything over that should go to the author, because editing, acquisition, and marketing costs don't vary between paperback and ebook (or between paperback and hard cover, for that matter). If Random House or whoever can afford to publish my book as a paperback for $6.99, then it can. The fact that the publisher counts on publishing a certain number of books as hard covers for $25 is a relic of the pre-digital age. Sell 20,000 ebooks for $5, and you made $100,000. Sell 1,000 books for $25, and you did one-quarter as well. The day a publisher figures that out, this whole discussion becomes moot. (Amazon.com already has. If it hadn't, would the "Big Six" be livid)?

 

The iPad is actually much better for readers than for publishers, because it breaks the monopoly of eBookstore X. Kindle books already display just fine, as do iBooks, ePub, and converted MOBI and HTML files. B&N has also promised an iPad app. Then the big ebookstores will have to compete with one another or risk losing customers.

 

Enough ranting. My point was just that I would have liked to see more of these issues raised in Ken Auletta's article. Even so, it was interesting--as much for what it didn't say as for what it did.

Best,

M

I agree. I think I would start purchasing e-books if I could purchase them for under $8. I would be willing to spend a little bit more if I knew the Authors were seeing more of it. I currently won't purchase an ebook without some extraordinary reason to, because I have little control of it. I can't sell it, can't lend it, can't cut it up and make a collage out of it (okay okay, I only do that to magazines, but they're coming to ebook form too), and a bunch of other reasons, so if I'm going to spend $15 on a book, I'm going to buy a physical book, otherwise I'm going to the library, reading something for free, or borrowing it from someone. I would be willing to buy more books and explore different authors and genres and types of books that I normally wouldn't if the price was $5 and below. It would allow me to consume a wider variety of things and have a "library" (barring anymore Amazon/1984 incedents) of many different types of books that I normally wouldn't keep. I could then, choose which books I liked the best and want to have in my physical library and go buy them for $15. I'd then have spent $20 on a book I really like and enjoy in a physical form and a digital form to have the advantages of both, but only have spent $5 on a book I didn't enjoy as much that won't take up any physical room on my limited physical shelves. That's a worthy investment in my eyes.

 

Unfortunately... the world doesn't revolve around me so I can't tell everyone to do it that way. :)

 

The iPad, as much fun as it is, hasn't yet replace the sight, feel and smell of a good hardcover. I still want a way to back up to an independent physical medium so I can secure or even sell what I purchase. I still want ... what I can do with a book. But I take some comfort in the thought that this innovation is still working itself out.

- Thoth

Yes. I agree. I hope it works out for the better.

 

Has anyone considered the longevity of ebooks? We face the continually changing media of VHS, DVD, BluRay... etc. etc. and while an ebook is more akin to the digital music on iTunes than a DVD, you have to have a reader, be it hardware and/or software. What happens when iBooks crashes and burns or what ever? Will my books be gone? What happens to them when the next best thing comes out? Sure there'll be converters and stuff, but if the books are DRM-ed or whatever, how's it going to work? Will it be like DVD's to BluRay (or whatever's next), where you'll just have to deal with re-buying your collection for the most part?

 

As long as you can read and you keep the book in decent condition, a book will never be unusable because the technology has changed.

 

And what about collectability? With first edition and antique and limited run books, comics, etc. etc being collectable.... what happens with ebooks? You can't resell an ebook currently and there's no print editions, so are ebooks doomed to forever be uncollectable or might some sort of edition come out to make them collectable? If you could resell an ebook, perhaps.

 

Well that was quite the brain drain of my thoughts on ebooks.... I gotta stop staying up until 3. Unfortunately 1 night of having to stay up extra late and waking up extra late makes the next night's bedtime feel like the middle of the afternoon and the cycle continues from there. ^_^

 

This is why I would have made such a bad doctor/healer/shaman/whatever back in those days. I'd be killin' the wrong sex o' bunny!

 

Orren

 

:lol:

 

I thought that Thoth meant that scientists first discovered how it was possible to detect an early pregnancy by examining and comparing the ovaries of lab rabbits and applying the knowledge gleaned into a way to develop a pregnancy test for humans rather than killing a rabbit and looking at it's guts to predict if your cave-woman wife was pregnant, similar to counting the bumps on a chicken liver (or what knot). I could be wrong though.

 

- J

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I'm confused. Do you mean "detected?"

Nope. I mean "determined" as in "a medical determination", although "detected" works too, just not as well.

 

Or should I just kill a rabbit and find out for myself?

If you have the skills. Why not. (Bunny killer!)

 

Orren "Bugs had it coming..." Merton

- Elmer "Ooo. Dat wascally wabbit!" Fud

...er...

- Thoth.

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Unfortunately... the world doesn't revolve around me so I can't tell everyone to do it that way. :)

We'll have to work on that. :lol:

 

Has anyone considered the longevity of ebooks? ... Sure there'll be converters and stuff, but if the books are DRM-ed or whatever, how's it going to work? Will it be like DVD's to BluRay (or whatever's next), where you'll just have to deal with re-buying your collection for the most part?

I think that's a very good point. And yes, they do want us to re-buy our collections.

 

As long as you can read and you keep the book in decent condition, a book will never be unusable because the technology has changed.

...

And what about collectability? ...

So when do we start picketing Amazon and Apple, etcetera?

 

I thought that Thoth meant that scientists first discovered how it was possible to detect an early pregnancy by examining and comparing the ovaries of lab rabbits and applying the knowledge gleaned into a way to develop a pregnancy test for humans rather than killing a rabbit and looking at it's guts to predict if your cave-woman wife was pregnant, similar to counting the bumps on a chicken liver (or what knot). I could be wrong though.

Okay. In the 1930s Aschheim and Zondek injected an infantile female mouse (not a rabbit, then) with human female urine. She (the mouse) was later dissected and her ovaries checked for signs of ovulation. This indicated that the urine contained hCG produced by the existence of a placenta which meant that the person was pregnant. Later, a similar test was developed using bunnies (immature rabbits). Medical students kept trying this test on different kinds of animals including, believe it or not, frogs. The frog test, introduced by Lancelot Hogben (yes, that was his name) involved injecting a female frog with a simple serum made from urine. If the frog produced eggs within the next 24 hours the test was positive for hCG. The Bufo test (so called because a toad of the genus Bufo was originally used for the test) was used by labs well into the 1950s because it allowed the frog to remain alive and be used repeatedly and was therefor cheap. But the bunnies gave fewer false positives than their amphibian friends so the Rabbit Test remained the most most widely used. By the mid-70s chemists figured out how to test for hCG thought a chemical reaction and no more bunnies had to die. (Elmer Fud is in mourning.)

 

No bunnies were known to have attended the Apple Tablet Event. (There. I feel so much better.)

- Thoth

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I'm not going to disagree with anyone. :lol:

 

But I do want to make a point about how slippery the concept of "reasonable" pricing is.

 

I think I would start purchasing e-books if I could purchase them for under $8.

 

Sure, that's reasonable to me. So is Marguerite's $9.99. IMO, so is $4.99, if we're talking about a short story anthology, etc. as those books rarely pay royalties, usually authors are paid a flat fee for their stories. And as far as non-fiction scientific research texts go, depending on what the authors are getting for their efforts, I would find a much higher price very reasonable for a 500+ page eBook of a seminal research tome with multiple authors (all of whom get their 25% royalties). So which "reasonable" price is more "reasonable?" Sadly, my own abilities to reason aren't up to the task. ^_^

 

I think Thoth was right when he suggested that the truly "reasonable" price point hasn't been settled on yet.

 

Has anyone considered the longevity of ebooks?... As long as you can read and you keep the book in decent condition, a book will never be unusable because the technology has changed.

 

I think in another thread I wondered about the "ultimate longevity" (and Thoth answered, I believe) of our entire e-society. We have stone carvings and dead sea scrolls and ancient Egyptian papyrus from thousands of years ago because weather conditions allowed these works to survive, and nothing was required to access them once we re-discovered them. What about our digital world? What will be left after an apocalypse? If tens of thousands of years from now, extra-terrestrial archeologists find our little rock, third from our sun, and try to understand what sort of culture existed here, will they be able to? Or will all of our data be lost, with little physical other than buildings?

 

The more ephemeral our information becomes, in a way, so do we. Look at the Boskops. Back in pre-historic times, humans were not the smartest, biggest brained creatures on earth. The Boskops were bigger-brained. And yet, they vanished (either dying out or breeding with those human dummies). But we know so little about them, because as smart as they might have been, they didn't leave a written culture. http://discovermagazine.com/2009/the-brain...smarter-than-us

 

Will we? Or will we only leave unaccessible, broken hard drives? (I sort of give my answer to this question below)

 

And what about collectability? With first edition and antique and limited run books, comics, etc. etc being collectable...

 

There will always be a place for "souvenirs" as they say. For example, the majority of people choose to buy a movie; but some buy the movie poster, too. And so it will always be with books. Even if the day comes when the majority of books are electronic, there will always be people or special works that people will choose to buy physically.

 

Well that was quite the brain drain of my thoughts on ebooks.... I gotta stop staying up until 3.

 

Enjoy it! When I was your age, I was up until 3am every morning too. Although ironically, the wife goes to sleep before I do some of the time, and I'm old and she's young. Must be that I'm a vampire. I knew I wrote about them for a reason... :)

 

Orren

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I agree. I think I would start purchasing e-books if I could purchase them for under $8. I would be willing to spend a little bit more if I knew the Authors were seeing more of it. I currently won't purchase an ebook without some extraordinary reason to, because I have little control of it. I can't sell it, can't lend it, can't cut it up and make a collage out of it (okay okay, I only do that to magazines, but they're coming to ebook form too), and a bunch of other reasons, so if I'm going to spend $15 on a book, I'm going to buy a physical book, otherwise I'm going to the library, reading something for free, or borrowing it from someone. I would be willing to buy more books and explore different authors and genres and types of books that I normally wouldn't if the price was $5 and below. It would allow me to consume a wider variety of things and have a "library" (barring anymore Amazon/1984 incedents) of many different types of books that I normally wouldn't keep. I could then, choose which books I liked the best and want to have in my physical library and go buy them for $15. I'd then have spent $20 on a book I really like and enjoy in a physical form and a digital form to have the advantages of both, but only have spent $5 on a book I didn't enjoy as much that won't take up any physical room on my limited physical shelves. That's a worthy investment in my eyes.

 

Has anyone considered the longevity of ebooks? We face the continually changing media of VHS, DVD, BluRay... etc. etc. and while an ebook is more akin to the digital music on iTunes than a DVD, you have to have a reader, be it hardware and/or software. What happens when iBooks crashes and burns or what ever? Will my books be gone? What happens to them when the next best thing comes out? Sure there'll be converters and stuff, but if the books are DRM-ed or whatever, how's it going to work? Will it be like DVD's to BluRay (or whatever's next), where you'll just have to deal with re-buying your collection for the most part?

 

As long as you can read and you keep the book in decent condition, a book will never be unusable because the technology has changed.

- J

Yes, these are excellent points, and they get at what I thought was missing from the Auletta article, even though in general I agree with Orren that the article gave a nuanced, balanced view of the potential impact of Apple and Amazon.com on publishing. In brief, I thought Auletta didn't think far enough outside the box (the box in this case being whether the iPad/Kindle/whatever new device comes along save or hurt the publishing business as it currently exists).

 

The more of these articles I read, the more I feel as if I'm watching a group of engineers clustered around the Titanic, admiring her just before she sets sail. Where is the person asking the big questions, some of which Jules just raised? What makes the Amazon model work? It's not only that people can pay less for e-books than if they buy on the agency model. If people see two things as essentially the same, they will pick the one that costs less, sure. But people will pay a premium for something they perceive as having greater value, even if the value is social (prestige, or just having the coolest gadget around). Otherwise, no one would buy a Ferrari when a VW Bug will get you from place to place. No one would pay extra for iPhones or iPads. But people do.

 

People want to pay less for ebooks than for physical books in part because they believe the books cost less to produce and in part because the books come with inherent limitations. Either the customer is right and publishers need to respect that and price accordingly, or the customer is wrong and publishers need to do a better job of explaining why the ebook is worth $14.99. Because it suits me to price it that way or even because I will go out of business if I don't price it that high won't cut it as an explanation. (What, there will suddenly be no ebooks to read? We have 350 committed Storyists ready to fill the gap.)

 

That, to me, would be an interesting conversation. What is an e-book worth? What would make it worth more? If it should cost more than it does, why?

 

I would think Cengage would be right in the thick of this conversation (which doesn't necessarily mean they want employees spilling all on a public forum!), since the iPad and tablets in general offer a clear advantage over printed textbooks: they're light, they're portable, they display full-color graphics, they can connect to the Internet for additional videos and source materials and explanations, and you can update the books as often as necessary. You could also set up sectional pricing, so that a professor who only wants to assign three chapters doesn't have to force kids to buy the entire book (believe me, there are great textbooks I have not adopted because I didn't want to ask kids to spring for $40 when I only needed the first third). And given the price of textbooks, I doubt even the most dedicated bargain shopper expects anyone to sell them for $9.99. They may insist on $99.99, though. Or $20 for the $40 example.

 

Interesting times, as Thoth suggests. On the rabbit discussion I remain silent. You guys can get further off-topic in less time than one would believe possible. :)

Best,

M

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What makes the Amazon model work?

 

Ah, but that brings up another subject all together. :)

 

What is the definition of "work?" Is it just "build up market share for the retailer?" Is that it?

 

What if I am a trillionaire philanthropist, and my goal in life is to increase literacy. So with nothing but good intensions, I buy books from publishers for wholesale, and sell them for 99¢. I quickly get 99% market share, and people begin to feel that the "reasonable" price for eBooks is 99¢. I am successful in getting more books into anyone's hands than ever before—society wins!!! :lol:

 

...Or does it? I've just put all the other eBook stores out of business, along with nearly all physical book stores (books are still sold via warehouse retailers but B&N, Borders, etc. all gone). And imagine that I suddenly and unexpectedly am killed in a bizarre hoola hoop accident. No other company can afford to sell books for what I did, and consumers aren't willing to pay more than I charged, so people stop buying major publisher eBooks altogether, relying on writers willing to give stuff away for free or 99¢. So ultimately, did society "win" because of my altruistic, truly and honestly good intentioned attempt to improve our culture through the use of a completely unsustainable economic model?

 

(if one is politically minded, one can extrapolate this into why Marxist utopian socialism, communism, etc. don't work either)

 

This is not to say that $9.99 is not the right price for eBooks!! ^_^ But I'm using an absurd, extreme example to show that the concept of "working" is really tied in not just to consumer behavior, but to the entire economic results of a given price point. It may be that $9.99, $8.99, maybe even $4.99 "works" as long as the model is changed to something different than either the "hemorrhaging money" model of Amazon or the Agency model. I'm with Thoth on this one--time will tell.

 

I would think Cengage would be right in the thick of this conversation (which doesn't necessarily mean they want employees spilling all on a public forum!)

 

....? :)

 

(you're right, of course!)

 

Take care,

Orren

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Back in pre-historic times, humans were not the smartest, biggest brained creatures on earth. The Boskops were bigger-brained. And yet, they vanished (either dying out or breeding with those human dummies). But we know so little about them, because as smart as they might have been, they didn't leave a written culture. http://discovermagazine.com/2009/the-brain...smarter-than-us

Not to get too off topic (oh, who am I kidding), but a word on the Boskops and the dangers of equating skull size with brain size and brain size with intelligence: don't. The article, while interesting, fuels a misconception. If a larger skull size necessarily meant a larger brain size then elephants and hogs would have bigger brains than we do. They don't. If larger brain size necessarily meant greater intelligence then dolphins and orcas (i.e., killer whales) would be more intelligent than we. Okay, maybe they are but it's hard to prove by our human standards of intelligence. I'm reminded of the fact that Einstein didn't speak in full sentences until he was five and believed mentally deficient. After he died his brain proved to be no bigger than average. Creativity and innovation may not require a whole lot of brain.

 

There will always be a place for "souvenirs" as they say. For example, the majority of people choose to buy a movie; but some buy the movie poster, too. And so it will always be with books. Even if the day comes when the majority of books are electronic, there will always be people or special works that people will choose to buy physically.

It's worth noting that paper normally doesn't last 1,000 years. I don't know about beer hats and foam finger souvenirs. But I have to agree with Orren: The NYPL has a project where they are laser printing the KJB and the works of Shakespeare on nickel plate to preserve it. Other than that, the steel skeletons of our ruined cities will have to tell people about us. Of course, there's always Mount Rushmore. Stick that on your iPad.

 

- Thoth

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...

... On the rabbit discussion I remain silent. You guys can get further off-topic in less time than one would believe possible. :)

Okay. Okay. To be completely on topic, I feel that there are considerations other than what iPad charges for an eBook. Price should also take into account the cost of buying in. Kindle is less expensive and you don't need a phone-carrier contract — Amazon picks up the cost of transmission. Amazon also picks up the cost of maintaining your collection: lose your Kindle and Amazon restocks your collection for free when you buy a new one. Loose your iPad and you'd better still have your desktop (and iTunes) to backup your eBooks. The iTunes Store won't help you. (Someone please tell me this has changed.)

 

Rabbit!

- Thoth.

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Ah, but that brings up another subject all together. :)

 

What is the definition of "work?" Is it just "build up market share for the retailer?" Is that it?

 

What if I am a trillionaire philanthropist, and my goal in life is to increase literacy. So with nothing but good intensions, I buy books from publishers for wholesale, and sell them for 99¢. I quickly get 99% market share, and people begin to feel that the "reasonable" price for eBooks is 99¢. I am successful in getting more books into anyone's hands than ever before—society wins!!! :lol:

 

...Or does it? I've just put all the other eBook stores out of business, along with nearly all physical book stores (books are still sold via warehouse retailers but B&N, Borders, etc. all gone). And imagine that I suddenly and unexpectedly am killed in a bizarre hoola hoop accident. No other company can afford to sell books for what I did, and consumers aren't willing to pay more than I charged, so people stop buying major publisher eBooks altogether, relying on writers willing to give stuff away for free or 99¢. So ultimately, did society "win" because of my altruistic, truly and honestly good intentioned attempt to improve our culture through the use of a completely unsustainable economic model?

 

(if one is politically minded, one can extrapolate this into why Marxist utopian socialism, communism, etc. don't work either)

 

This is not to say that $9.99 is not the right price for eBooks!! ^_^ But I'm using an absurd, extreme example to show that the concept of "working" is really tied in not just to consumer behavior, but to the entire economic results of a given price point. It may be that $9.99, $8.99, maybe even $4.99 "works" as long as the model is changed to something different than either the "hemorrhaging money" model of Amazon or the Agency model. I'm with Thoth on this one--time will tell.

Take care,

Orren

Yes, these are the kinds of questions I'm talking about (also the cost/usage and storage issues that Thoth mentions above). If the big problem is that e-books are worth more than $9.99, for whatever reason, and Amazon is taking a hit that other companies can't afford to build its market share and destroy the competition, meanwhile convincing the public that no e-book anywhere should ever cost more than $9.99, then I would agree on the need to question that practice.

 

I have no trouble believing that Amazon is cutting prices to attract business. Where the big publishers are losing me is in their insistence that an e-book should mirror the price of the hardcover book. Track Title A (this is particularly obvious at the Amazon.com site; B&N tends to follow the market more slowly, which is why I don't own a nook). The book is released in hardcover at, say, $25 and retails at Amazon for $22-23. At that point the Kindle version costs $21-23, about the same as the discounted hardcover price. The book is deemed a bestseller and the retail price drops to $15-17; the e-book is listed at $9.99. The book goes into paperback at $6.99 and the e-book (which has not changed one bit) now lists for $6.39, 10% less than the paperback.

 

Obviously, the bookstore has to match the paperback price if it hopes to sell e-books; otherwise people will bypass the e-book and buy the paperback instead. But why is the e-book not considered the equivalent of a paperback at the beginning of the cycle? And yes, I understand that the publishers want to make as much money as they can from the hardcovers and that they would withhold the e-book from circulation if they saw it as the equivalent of releasing the hard cover and the paperback simultaneously. But I think that is the element that's missing from the discussion: that pricing model, which was developed in a particular publishing context and was appropriate in that context, may need to change in response to the introduction of digital book technology. An e-book is not the equivalent of a hardcover: it's not as durable, as pleasurable a sensory experience, as versatile (the comment about lending, transferring, selling, etc.), or as enduring. And there are costs associated with accessing it and storing it, as Thoth notes.

 

I don't know the answer to the pricing question; I doubt anyone does at this point. But I don't think hammering customers over the head will be any more successful than luring them into unrealistic and unsustainable expectations (if, in fact, that is the result of Amazon.com's campaign). There are real issues associated with the adoption of e-books that so far, most publishers and even many journalists seem unwilling to address.

 

But fortunately, we have the Storyist Forums. :)

M

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There is a saying on Wall Street:

Things cost what you pay for them.

Things are worth what you can get for them.

- Any Stockbroker.

You don't have to agree. I suspect most people don't.

But it has proven true time and again. It applies to eBooks

and iPads as well.

- Thoth

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There is a saying on Wall Street:

 

You don't have to agree. I suspect most people don't.

But it has proven true time and again. It applies to eBooks

and iPads as well.

- Thoth

Then the jury is in, isn't it? E-books are worth $9.99 until the paperback comes out, when they are worth less. :)

 

So the publishers can stop whining now and get on with producing books.

M

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Then the jury is in, isn't it? E-books are worth $9.99 until the paperback comes out, when they are worth less. :)

An E-book is worth $9.99 to the seller but only for as long as he can get $9.99 for it. It costs us $9.44 but is worth exactly nothing (in Street terms) to us because we can't re-sell it. ***sigh*** (Do I have to retell the Eco 101 story about the tuna?)

 

So the publishers can stop whining now and get on with producing books.

Absolutely. Then we'll see what the market does.

- Thoth

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We'll have to work on that. ^_^

:) if we succeed I will be starting an ebook Library as well.. as in the kind that lends books and not the kind that compiles the free out of copyright things.

 

Okay. In the 1930s Aschheim and Zondek injected an infantile female mouse (not a rabbit, then) with human female urine. She (the mouse) was later dissected and her ovaries checked for signs of ovulation. This indicated that the urine contained hCG produced by the existence of a placenta which meant that the person was pregnant. Later, a similar test was developed using bunnies (immature rabbits). Medical students kept trying this test on different kinds of animals including, believe it or not, frogs. The frog test, introduced by Lancelot Hogben (yes, that was his name) involved injecting a female frog with a simple serum made from urine. If the frog produced eggs within the next 24 hours the test was positive for hCG. The Bufo test (so called because a toad of the genus Bufo was originally used for the test) was used by labs well into the 1950s because it allowed the frog to remain alive and be used repeatedly and was therefor cheap. But the bunnies gave fewer false positives than their amphibian friends so the Rabbit Test remained the most most widely used. By the mid-70s chemists figured out how to test for hCG thought a chemical reaction and no more bunnies had to die. (Elmer Fud is in mourning.)

 

No bunnies were known to have attended the Apple Tablet Event. (There. I feel so much better.)

- Thoth

Ah.... that's very interesting....

 

But I do want to make a point about how slippery the concept of "reasonable" pricing is.

 

Sure, that's reasonable to me. So is Marguerite's $9.99. IMO, so is $4.99, if we're talking about a short story anthology, etc. as those books rarely pay royalties, usually authors are paid a flat fee for their stories. And as far as non-fiction scientific research texts go, depending on what the authors are getting for their efforts, I would find a much higher price very reasonable for a 500+ page eBook of a seminal research tome with multiple authors (all of whom get their 25% royalties). So which "reasonable" price is more "reasonable?" Sadly, my own abilities to reason aren't up to the task. :)

 

I think Thoth was right when he suggested that the truly "reasonable" price point hasn't been settled on yet.

Yes, I agree. A non-fiction scientific research book or a text book is something I'd be willing to pay more for. I'd be willing to pay more for other types of books too, different versions or books (with special illustrations or what ever vs. just text etc. etc.). It will be interesting to see what the future holds for pricing and for what is contained in an ebooks.

 

I think in another thread I wondered about the "ultimate longevity" (and Thoth answered, I believe) of our entire e-society. We have stone carvings and dead sea scrolls and ancient Egyptian papyrus from thousands of years ago because weather conditions allowed these works to survive, and nothing was required to access them once we re-discovered them. What about our digital world? What will be left after an apocalypse? If tens of thousands of years from now, extra-terrestrial archeologists find our little rock, third from our sun, and try to understand what sort of culture existed here, will they be able to? Or will all of our data be lost, with little physical other than buildings?

I often wonder the same thing, though less apocolyptic and more like... what from our current culture is going to become classic, antique, etc. What is going to last? We have classic books and antique furniture and historic buildings that have lasted thus far and continue to last, but what are we making and creating now will do the same? Will stories like Harry Potter and Twilight become classics like a Wrinkle in Time or the Jane Austen books?

 

There will always be a place for "souvenirs" as they say. For example, the majority of people choose to buy a movie; but some buy the movie poster, too. And so it will always be with books. Even if the day comes when the majority of books are electronic, there will always be people or special works that people will choose to buy physically.

Yes, people will buy souvenirs, but people collect comic books and 1st editions of books etc. etc. If the majority of publications go digital in the future, I wonder if something will pop up to bring legitimate collectability to the digital world.

 

 

Enjoy it! When I was your age, I was up until 3am every morning too. Although ironically, the wife goes to sleep before I do some of the time, and I'm old and she's young. Must be that I'm a vampire. I knew I wrote about them for a reason... :lol:

 

Orren

Heh... if only everyone thought that, most people try to get me to be less of a night owl, and unfortunately most of the world doesn't run on night owl time.

 

If you are a vampire... I hope you are more akin to Bunnicula than to Dracula....

 

 

Yes, these are excellent points, and they get at what I thought was missing from the Auletta article, even though in general I agree with Orren that the article gave a nuanced, balanced view of the potential impact of Apple and Amazon.com on publishing. In brief, I thought Auletta didn't think far enough outside the box (the box in this case being whether the iPad/Kindle/whatever new device comes along save or hurt the publishing business as it currently exists).

 

The more of these articles I read, the more I feel as if I'm watching a group of engineers clustered around the Titanic, admiring her just before she sets sail. Where is the person asking the big questions, some of which Jules just raised? What makes the Amazon model work? It's not only that people can pay less for e-books than if they buy on the agency model. If people see two things as essentially the same, they will pick the one that costs less, sure. But people will pay a premium for something they perceive as having greater value, even if the value is social (prestige, or just having the coolest gadget around). Otherwise, no one would buy a Ferrari when a VW Bug will get you from place to place. No one would pay extra for iPhones or iPads. But people do.

Well let's hope (or maybe not?) that ebooks have a better time of it than the Titanic.

 

People want to pay less for ebooks than for physical books in part because they believe the books cost less to produce and in part because the books come with inherent limitations. Either the customer is right and publishers need to respect that and price accordingly, or the customer is wrong and publishers need to do a better job of explaining why the ebook is worth $14.99. Because it suits me to price it that way or even because I will go out of business if I don't price it that high won't cut it as an explanation. (What, there will suddenly be no ebooks to read? We have 350 committed Storyists ready to fill the gap.)

 

That, to me, would be an interesting conversation. What is an e-book worth? What would make it worth more? If it should cost more than it does, why?

 

An E-book is worth $9.99 to the seller but only for as long as he can get $9.99 for it. It costs us $9.44 but is worth exactly nothing (in Street terms) to us because we can't re-sell it.

- Thoth

 

Thoth said exactly what I was thinking about the value of ebooks.

 

[continued]

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