Saturday, May 12, 2012

Buggy Whip Makers Sue To Stop Horseless Carriage Sellers

Or Slide Rule Makers Charge Electronic Calculator Makers With Trade Law Violations.  Or Typewriter Makers Join DOJ to Attack Computer Makers.

Just like that.
In The Luddite-Statist Attacks on Amazon by Gen LaGreca the author delves into what appears to be Crony Capitalism at work yet again (what a surprise!).  (h/t Erne Lewis)  The New York Times has started a campaign against  First, they cheer on a small publisher who has refused to do business with Amazon.  Then they gush over the DOJ's attacks on Apple for their work with iBooks.

With Kindle books outselling paper and hardback books combined, this is a war the old technology folks have decided to fight.  I suppose if your only concern is keeping your position in life, it makes sense.  From any other economic or social standpoint, it's completely wrong.  You can't tell me it's wrong to save customers money, which they'll probably just spend somewhere else.  You can't tell me it's better for a small number of publishers to keep control over who gets published and what ideas get circulated.  Only if you're the "gatekeeper" who controls that and makes your living from it does artificially keeping prices high make sense.

e-Books are revolutionizing the distribution of books like nothing since Gutenberg's press.
... one novelist who was unable to find an agent or publisher has self-published two of her novels on Kindle. With her books priced at $2.99 and with a 70-percent royalty from Kindle, she earns approximately $2 per book. She is selling 55 books per day, or 20,000 books per year, which amounts to sales of $60,000 and royalties to her of $40,000. (As a simple comparison, without getting into the complexities of book contracts, this author might earn a royalty of approximately 10-percent from a traditional publisher, which would require her to achieve sales of $400,000 to earn as much money as she does self-publishing on Kindle.) Other authors are doing even better, including two self-published novelists who have become members of the Kindle Million Club in copies sold. These writers started with nothing—they were not among the favored few selected by agents and trade publishers, and they had no publicists or book tours—yet, thanks to electronic publishing, they are making a living, with some achieving stunning success.
There are dozens of low priced Kindle titles on Amazon, and many writers making some portion of their living this way.  The same sort of thing is going on in music, where independent bands are getting around the stranglehold the big music labels used to have.  I've bought a few Pomplamoose downloads and I've bought a few indie books, too.  With the direct channel available through iTunes, I'm sure Pomplamoose gets a much bigger percentage of the sale than they would from a record company album. 

Getting the tyrannical DOJ to fight the future for them shows the publishers to be greedy, stupid cowards only in it for themselves.


  1. I read so much, I seldom buy a book - unless it is so good I know I will want to re-read it numerous times, as well as loaning it out. Since Kindle and other formatted ebooks have become readable on my Mac laptop, I have bought a dozen or so. John Ringo, Michael Z. Williamson, Francis Porretto, Matt Bracken (OK, I already had his paper versions as well ;-) - the list goes on.

    These cretins just can't allow the market to work to establish a floor, instead of a ceiling.

    I remember when many of us carried slide rules in high school (dating myself here - I had my dad's old Keuffel and Esser). When Hewlett Packard came out with what I believe was the first commercially available electronic calculator, it sold for $350, IIRC. It sure didn't seem at that time that it was going to be a popular device, except perhaps with scientists and engineers.

    1. You said, These cretins just can't allow the market to work to establish a floor, instead of a ceiling. I swear that one of the red flag warning phrases today is "level the playing field". That never means anything good for regular people.

      In this case, they think Amazon has an unfair advantage because they don't have to keep inventory (which is taxed) and they don't have the property taxes of brick and mortar stores. But the fix should be to not tax the brick and mortar stores, not to make Amazon pay more money!

      Same thing with the (worn out) "Warren Buffet pays less tax than his secretary" meme. It would help us all out if they cut the 35% income tax to match the 15% dividend tax, but they really just want to take away the lower rate for dividends (and destroy investment in industry).

      "Level the playing field" is the modern, long version of BOHICA.

  2. I agree."Establishing a floor" was meant as supporting an industry or market, as opposed to crushing it with a "ceiling" that allows no growth, just in case I wasn't being clear on that.

    "Level playing field" is simply another way of giving everyone a gold star, or a black beret, or redistributing the wealth until everyone has the same amount (which can never happen, except for perhaps a pico second, after which there wouldn't be an economy anymore).

    Of course, there never is, has been, or will be a "level playing field". There very people suggesting it are the ones who make certain they exist far above whatever "level" they are trying to sucker or force some of us into accepting.

  3. Well, I can still buy a slide rule (, buggy whip (, manual typewriter (, and paper books galore - so it appears to be more an issue of lost "market share" - now you know we can't allow that competition stuff.

    I suspect that 1952 calculator the size of a pickup load probably didn't have the umph of a junior high schooler's $9 Wal-Mart calculator (


  4. Most of the people my age (I'll admit to being over 65)don't like to read on the computer. I love it. I have carpal tunnel and reading on the computer pretty much lets me read as long as I want without the pain of holding a book in front of me. Carrying my phone around and reading from it is better than carrying around a book and a spare.
    Regards Quizikle's 1952 calculator, make that a warehouse sized calculator and it would be the right size for 1952. My current phone has 64GB of memory. My first store bought computer had 1MB of ram and 40 megabytes of hard drive. My phone has 1600 times the memory of my computer. Back in the 1960's IBM had this wonderful product called the IBM 360, a computer. The amazing thing at the time was that it had 360 kilobytes of memory. Do any of our modern electronics use vacuum tubes? Not that I know of. I talked to a guy recently who has to buy tubes for his classic radios from a specialty manufacturer. I used to test Cathode Ray tubes for a company who was building some of the first computer photo type setters. They used the CRT to etch the lead to make the print. They also used actual core memory. Big boards with wires strung through toroids called "cores" that would hold a magnetic charge if you ran juice through one set of wires and could be read by another set of wires to give you your on off digital signal. That's where the term "core memory" came from. Oh wait, does anyone still use that term?