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Re: Creating 'the Last Book' to Hold All the Others



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> From: Thomas Larque <thomas_larque@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> To: Paul Anderson <paul@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Subject: Re: Creating 'the Last Book' to Hold All the Others
> Date: 10 April 1998 01:19
>
> > From: Paul Anderson <paul@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> > To: Thomas Larque <thomas_larque@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> > Cc: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> > Subject: Re: Creating 'the Last Book' to Hold All the Others
> > Date: 09 April 1998 23:49
> >
> > On Thu, 9 Apr 1998, Thomas Larque wrote:
> >
> > > Why go to the shops to buy the latest trashy
> > > bestseller if you can download it from your own home in seconds, and
> would
> > > only have read it once anyway?
> > >
> > Yeah, but where the publisher of said trashy novel make money?
>
> Out of the proceeds of not having to pay for ink, paper, huge printing
> machines, printing staff, lorries to transport books, warehouses to keep
> them in, bookshops, bookshop staff, bookshelves and the rest.  Knock off
> all these expenses and the publisher could afford to sell the electronic
> file at a price which was lower than the paper book price and still make
> the same, or a larger, profit.
>
> Also ... no more need to guess how many books will sell before you print
> them.  Overprinting would be a thing of the past, and publishers would
not
> be left with huge piles of unsold books - needing a warehouse to keep
them
> in, or (at worst) an incinerator to burn them.  If the book they thought
> was going to be a bestseller turned out to be something less, they simply
> pass out less duplicate files.
>
> With paper printing, printing one hundred copies of a text is infinitely
> more expensive (per copy) than printing a million, and if you print a
> million and can't sell them the price of making the 900,000 unsold copies
> will kill your profit.  If you have the text on an electronic file, you
can
> send out each copy as and when it is ordered.  Small print runs and
> experimental publication of texts which *might* be successful would also
> suddenly become much more financially viable.
>
> For the large publishing firm an electronic text of this kind is going to
> be very attractive financially in many ways, if it can be made to work.
>
> >Say the
> > book form is worth $10, what would the text file of it be?  Methinks
next
> > to worthless, they'd never make enough to turn a decent profit.
>
> Not true at all.  If electronic publishing became standard, then the
> customer would be making a payment before they downloaded these
(presumably
> securely encrypted) files from whichever source you cared to mention.
Look
> at the way some companies are selling downloads of software over the
> internet, for example - or at the theoretical "Pay-Per-View"
> TV-down-your-telephone systems that are being planned for the future (the
> idea is that people ring up, dial a number to select the film that they
> want to see, and watch it - whatever it is, whenever they feel like it -
> paying a little less than it would cost to hire a video from the video
> shop).
>
> As I've pointed out above ... if they charge less for the texts than they
> would for a printed copy, but not all that much less.  $5?  $7?  $8?
Then
> the huge savings they would make from not having to manufacture and
handle
> the printed text would mean that they were making at least as much
profit,
> maybe more.
>
> >  No matter
> > what, it'll still cost more to make these "last book" things,
>
> Yes, but you would only have to buy the physical form of the book once.
> These days I am paying for the physical manufacture of the book every
time
> that I buy one.  Let's say that they decide to cut $3 off the standard
book
> cover price of each text.  That means that after you've bought ten books,
> you've saved $30.  After you've bought fifty books, you've saved $150.
And
> so on.  After a lifetime of bookbuying, you will end up having saved the
> original one-off payment many times over.  And if lots of people buy
these
> things - like every electronic goody that I have ever seen - that one-off
> price will fall and fall.
>
> You still don't think people would make that investment?
>
> Are you sitting in front of a computer?  You have probably invested well
> over $1500 in it.  One of the things it lets you do is read E-Texts.
>
> And as for your theory about Publishers losing out.  You might have
> problems explaining why I have Reference CD-Roms containing huge shelves
of
> books of a kind that would normally cost hundreds of pounds in their
> printed form.  Each disk - published or licensed by the same people who
> published the paper copies - cost me between 15 and 25 pounds.
>
> Books that I have on CD-Rom include the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
> (normal cost about 70 pounds, I think ... disk price 25 pounds along with
> the Oxford Encyclopaedia, an Atlas and at least one other text) and the
> Dictionary of National Biography (normal cost about 150 pounds, I think
..
> disk price 15 pounds along with a multi-volume Encyclopaedia and about
six
> other big reference books).
>
> Where did the publishers get their profit?  From not having to print,
bind,
> warehouse and transport huge volumes of text.  And by selling them to
> millions more people who could not have afforded the print version.  The
> CD-Rom text focus is on Reference books at the moment because computers
can
> handle them very well (they make searching - the main function of
reference
> books - much easier, and unless you are very strange, you don't want to
> read the two-volume Shorter Oxford Dictionary in the bath).
>
> If the computer book they described comes out in the form that they are
> working towards, most of the disadvantages of reading from monitors would
> be wiped out.
>
> > and they'll
> > STILL run out of power,
>
> Used a mobile telephone recently?  When I bought one some years ago, it
had
> about an hour's talktime and I thought I was lucky.  My father just
bought
> one with four hours - which had a smaller and lighter battery than mine.
> In ten years or twenty years, the charge will almost certainly last
through
> 12 hours at least - and the batteries will be smaller than ever before.
>
> To read a book you need - what? - something like 8 hours maximum charge?
> How long are you going to keep reading for?  You've got to break for
lunch
> or sleep at some point.  And if you buy two batteries, you can even use
> one while the other one is recharging.
>
> And again, look at your computer.  In the 1950's, I seem to remember
> reading, they were suggesting that Britain would never need more than
about
> a dozen computers to provide for the entire country's demand for computer
> resources forever.  They were assuming that computers would always be the
> size of a large room, and used only by scientists.  Modern computers -
with
> a tiny silicon chip processor outperforming their most mammoth processors
> by thousands and millions of times -would have surprised them rather a
lot.
>
> > and totally freak out when dunked in the water.
>
> They could, if they wished, almost certainly make this "book" waterproof.

> You just need to cover the "pages" with some sort of sealed plastic, or
> something similar.  They already make waterproof personal CD-Players and
> "Walkman" tape players that you can use in the shower.  Sensitive
> electrical equipment, perhaps, but you can protect it easily enough.
>
> And it's a lot easier to waterproof a computer book than a real one.
Also
> remember (again) that the computer book is a one time cost.  For
> waterproofed paper books you would have to pay the extra charge time
after
> time.
>
> > Now I admit, books don't handle a dunking that well either, but they
can
> > be dried with little damage.
>
> The books that I dropped in the bath as a child suffered irreperable
> damage.  They looked, and felt, nasty forever afterwards.  Books just
don't
> like water.
>
> >  The book is just too good a technology to
> > beat, when you have a good idea, stick with it...  TTYL!
>
> Long live the wax cylinder recording machine, the phonograph, the
cassette
> tape!
>
> Long live analogue television broadcasts (already set to be phased out in
> America early next decade, I believe)!
>
> Long live, as Daria suggested, "...  clay tablets? Papyrus?  Ethiopian
> scrolls?  buggy whips?".  How can man live without the horse to pull his
> machinery and carry him around?
>
> The book won't go in quite the same way as many of these things - because
> it is more adaptable than most of them, but it could easily become a
> minority interest.
>
> I'm going to be clinging onto my library until they bury me, and so - I
> imagine - will most of the people on this Newsgroup.  But what about your
> great-grandchildren who may have grown up with the new wave of reading
> devices and might demand the convenience they offer?
>
> I remember - not too many years ago - hearing Secretaries cursing the
> WordProcessor and swearing to stick with their old manual typewriter.  If
> any of them did, they probably lost their jobs.
>
> Times change.
>
> Thomas Larque.


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