The "Free Umbrella" Is A Dinosaur
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