Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The "Free Umbrella" Is A Dinosaur

Got your iPad yet? I hope so. In fact, I hope you're reading my blog on your iPad, it's the perfect device for blog reading. It's also a perfect device for book reading, if you like that sort of thing. Personally, I see it as a very handy electronic gizmo, but for me it will never replace a real book. It will also never replace a real newspaper or a real magazine.

On the other hand, I may soon have no choice in the matter. Just as external pressure forced me to abandon charcoal for propane, there simply may not be any real (printed) newspapers or magazines or books in the future. You might think, because they're still a product one pays full price for based on its true cost rather than one that's subsidized by advertising, that books will survive, but I don't want to talk about that.

Actually, I do want to talk about that, but I'd rather point you to Ken Auletta's excellent story in The New Yorker... which reminded me of something else.

In his coverage of the topic, Auletta tells how Amazon has been selling e-books at a loss to gain market share and quotes a publishing executive, David Young, the chairman and C.E.O. of Hachette Book Group USA, who said, “The big concern—and it’s a massive concern—is the $9.99 pricing point. If it’s allowed to take hold in the consumer’s mind that a book is worth ten bucks, to my mind it’s game over for this business.”

Wasn't I saying something like that about the photography business back in 1995 when Getty Investment Holdings announced its purchase of PhotoDisc and then did essentially the same thing as Amazon's done? Actually, Mr. Young is much more genteel than I. If I recall correctly, I said, "if our clients get the idea a picture is only worth three bucks a pop
we're all f*¢#@d!"

New Yorker cover illustration by Lorenzo Mattotti


Blogger Nancy Slome said...

I'm 100% behind your post, Joe! Back when I worked for a major publishing company, we started to include "electronic rights" in our contracts -- not knowing exactly how things would play out, but we (who were commissioning the work) understood it was advantageous to at least "ask" for them. (Note: This was negotiable, so don't shoot me yet!)

But I find it a bit inconsistent that you have NOT credited The New Yorker illustrator whose cover art you have included on your blog. I've done your homework, and you might want to set an example and give him credit; it's Lorenzo Mattotti.

I'm just sayin'...

8:33 PM  
Blogger Joe P. said...

Oh my, Nancy, you're absolutely right. I've now added the credit.

BTW, I'm not complaining about e-rights or how that's negotiated, just seeing the parallel in tactics of Amazon's e-book pricing and Getty Images' stock photo pricing. Give it away (to get market share, or whyever) and the price never recovers.

10:36 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home