Re: Up top!

1

I suppose it helps if the other person is watching your elbow, too, now that I think about it.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 4:27 PM
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And probably you want to watch the "fiving" elbow, and not the extra elbow.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 4:33 PM
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I high five only the one-armed, TJ.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 4:34 PM
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Slap boxing? Great idea!

Why, I had an email exchange just the other day which should have turned into a slap boxing match. No guts, though, just a lot of stalking off after a few feints.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 4:35 PM
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Seriously though, try it! Report back!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 4:35 PM
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About half the time when I complete some task like pouring milk in my 2-yr-old daughter's cereal bowl, she says earnestly, "Good job, Dad. Give me a high five."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 4:36 PM
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But Standpipe doesn't like fighting, Stanley. So I don't know if you should be encouraging people to slap box.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 4:37 PM
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I thought "slap box" was a euphemism.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 4:49 PM
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6: Apo's daughter has it figured out, anyway: you're supposed to announce your desire to high five. I don't usually, so then you get the awkward thing of two people eying each other, going, "What, what is this, oh you want to high five, okay, here goes?" Then, "Wow, we messed that up and should probably just hug, but we got a good laugh, if not a downright chortle."

Which is okay.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 4:50 PM
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9: All you need to do is say, "Up top!" and then move your hand into the standard pre-high-five position. Then watch each other's elbows. And Bob's your uncle slappy friend.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 4:53 PM
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"Up top!" might add to the standard pre-high-five position, it's true.

I don't high-five often.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 5:44 PM
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The same thing goes for the first bump plus explodey noise but you have to watch the other person's detonation circuit.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 5:47 PM
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first bump plus explodey noise

Is that how they do prima nocta up by you? Weird.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 5:49 PM
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I don't see race elbows.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 5:50 PM
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With boxing you watch the other person's eyes .. just sayin'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 5:50 PM
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I can't believe no one has independently confirmed the elbow thing. This is utterly disappointing.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 6:02 PM
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I'm not even sure what watching the elbows would involve, and why?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 6:05 PM
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17: As the other person gears up for the high five, you just focus on the elbow. It seems to produce a particularly successful high five for some reason.

I'm less convinced about the slap boxing; that was just an anecdote of some people fooling around.

Also, it seems I may value a solid high five more than your average bear.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 6:10 PM
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High fiving shouldn't be materially different from side fiving. At that point, you're just two dudes clapping. I tried clapping alone and watching my elbows didn't help.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 6:15 PM
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If I had the chance, I'd ask a woman to clap,
and not be clapping with myself.
So let sink another drink...


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 6:19 PM
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What *is* the sound of one man clapping?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 6:25 PM
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21: Cry, cry, clap, cry.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 6:26 PM
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High-fiving is a thing you do when teamwork has been involved. No doubt. Stanley is more of a team player than I am. Or just younger.

Seriously, I do high-five with my book partner more often than I ever would with anyone else. Which means like twice a year. Sometimes we just make a bet.

To wit: "Right, so if this joker actually buys this stoopid $3500 book which he is suddenly all skittish about, in accordance with the email voice I have adopted with him, against your thoughts on the matter, you totes owe me a beer."

We'll watch each other's elbows.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 6:26 PM
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How do you get the clap all by yourself?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 6:27 PM
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I don't have a problem with high fives. Its the "down low" that gives me trouble. I'm always too slow.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 6:42 PM
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I wonder if this guy knew the elbow trick.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 7:14 PM
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In our post-Borat world it just seems like that guy was ahead of his time.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 7:17 PM
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Neither partner knew the elbow trick in that case.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 7:21 PM
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||

This noted at Making Light (but not just there, by any means) is interesting: a retailing disagreement between Amazon and Macmillan publishers, a publishing house that includes St. Martin's Press among others, over e-book pricing, the result of which is that Amazon is no longer selling Macmillan titles on its site. That's kind of major, actually.

The whole thing is interesting, but the link to Scalzi includes a remark about "the iPad WHICH WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING AS WE KNOW IT FOREVER AND EVER."

I haven't been sure how much I'd like to google-proof this, but I suggest checking the links at the ML post if you find this of interest.

|>


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 7:50 PM
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29: I'm kinda surprised by how everyone is anti-Amazon on that thread. $10 is already too much for an e-Book, and now Macmillan wants to charge $15? I'm glad to see Amazon holding the line here. Transaction costs on e-Books are near $0, so there is no justification for making them more expensive than a paperback.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 7:59 PM
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No comment.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 8:02 PM
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I give high-fives primarily to children under six, so whiffing the clap hasn't been a problem on my end.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 8:16 PM
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more expensive than a paperback.

$15 is "more expensive than a paperback"? What is this, 1995?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 8:27 PM
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33: It is if you buy your paperbacks cheap on Amazon.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 8:29 PM
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I prefer the full-on socialism of PaperBackSwap.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 8:31 PM
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whiffing the clap hasn't been a problem on my end

Swing low, sweet fruit chariot.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 8:35 PM
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I can't believe no one has independently confirmed the elbow thing. This is utterly disappointing.

Everyone's waiting for just the right moment, like at the end of a first date.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 10:54 PM
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Clearly, I should have read 26 first.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 10:56 PM
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Transaction costs on e-Books are near $0, so there is no justification for making them more expensive than a paperback.

The author has to do the same amount of work to make an e-book as a snail book, so the price can't go too low.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 11:02 PM
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40

On the other hand, the purchaser actually owns the paperback.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 11:09 PM
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Literature will survive. Authors will just shift to generating revenue through concert ticketing and t-shirt sales.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 11:11 PM
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Literature was already dead.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 11:19 PM
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OT Just read Joe Menlo's Tender as Hellfire tonight and felt like I was reading Catcher in the Rye, eighties trailer park remix. Anyone else read it? Is it just because I had JDS on my mind from all the coverage?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 01-30-10 11:39 PM
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41: No kidding, that's what a bunch of people were telling Stross he should be doing.

The idea that there's something deeply wrong about selling off nights in the pub seems to be something a bunch of his readers don't get.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 12:15 AM
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They can always go the pre nineteenth century route: find wealthy patrons or just start out wealthy to begin with. That or creative writing university gigs like the poets.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 12:21 AM
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Yeah. The hugely annoying thing is the lack of even basic economics in a lot of the discourse around this stuff. It's all lawyers and geeks, and if you could just get one good IP economist to write regularly about this stuff a whole heap of stupidity would (hopefully) go away very quickly.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 12:33 AM
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I have no idea what 46 means. Plus, when did economists become our philosopher-kings?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 1:53 AM
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I don't have a problem with high fives. Its the "down low" that gives me trouble.

Funny, just last night Fleur has to correct a glaring flaw in the "down low" technique of my daughter. She didn't realize that you have to rotate your hand so that the palm faces upward when inviting to "down low".

This is representative of the many, rarely discussed educational handicaps of growing up in an affluent, all-white suburb. People look at our state-of-the art schools and abundant social capital and think "Nothing but unexamined privilege here." But the reality is that these children face educational challenges beyond the imagination of people residing in jurisdictions where fast food chains are not prohibited by local zoning laws.

It's lucky that Fleur identified this educational deficit when she did, what with Black History Month coming up and all.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 5:34 AM
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48: Speaking of PBS, did it stay Blue or switch to Brown during the recent debacle?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 6:36 AM
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49: Still as deep blue as ever -- Coakely by 25 points.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 8:03 AM
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They closed the McD's in West PDBS?!

Friendly's is still by the station, right?


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 8:36 AM
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44: Maybe it's disturbing for Stross, but I'm fine with shifting my income generating activities in this way. Drinks with a depressed person. Stay long enough and I'm bound to do something mildly entertaining and degrading.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 9:10 AM
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Plus, when did economists become our philosopher-kings?

When they managed to create a world with constant economic growth, no crashes, and steady improvement for all socio-economic classes. And crap ponies.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 9:25 AM
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40: And the seller or author can't change Big Brother to the hero while you're sleeping.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 10:07 AM
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30: I'm kinda surprised by how everyone is anti-Amazon on that thread. $10 is already too much for an e-Book, and now Macmillan wants to charge $15? I'm glad to see Amazon holding the line here. Transaction costs on e-Books are near $0, so there is no justification for making them more expensive than a paperback.

I actually haven't read the comments on that thread, but just off the top of my head:

Amazon, as a significant purveyor of new books, is essentially trying to exercise its power in that regard to tell the publisher what price it can charge for its goods. This is just a no, no go, no good, not to be accepted sort of thing.

It looks a little bit too much like what we should recognize as Walmart's tactics in dictating prices to its suppliers: it's strong-arming. Add in that Amazon's demands are tied to its efforts to make the Kindle the number one e-book reader in the land, and you have an attempt at monopolization (which Amazon has been brilliant at to date).

I'm happy that Macmillan is standing up to it. What the consumer thinks she or he should be paying for an e-book is beside the point. People who shop at Walmart no doubt think that prices should be slashed! every day! and become indignant at prices that are not.

I might should read the comments on the ML thread now.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 12:16 PM
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48, 49: Where do you live? I'm in Boston, though I didn't make it to the latest meetup.


Posted by: the Other Paul | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 12:41 PM
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Amazon, as a significant purveyor of new books, is essentially trying to exercise its power in that regard to tell the publisher what price it can charge for its goods. This is just a no, no go, no good, not to be accepted sort of thing.

Jim Henley has a post that argues more or less the opposite: that what's happening is a power grab by Macmillan. Specifically, that traditionally publishers sell books to retailers at an agreed-upon price, and then the retailer is free to charge whatever they like to consumers, but that Macmillan is trying to force Amazon to sell at a particular price to consumers regardless of what Amazon pays Macmillan for the books. Is he wrong? There seems to be a lot of righteous indignation all around, but to the casual observer unfamiliar with the publishing and bookselling worlds, it's hard to tell why.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 12:45 PM
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I had thought that Amazon had only pulled the Macmillan e-books. I just read something by Jim Henley that implied it was all Macmillan products, even books on paper. Yup. Amazon is not selling any books published by the Macmillan group. More sales for Powell's!


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 12:46 PM
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I'll add to 55, on the topic of e-books, that it's really funny if people feel they should be paying a mere couple of dollars for an e-book: what that says to me is that people feel these things are inferior to paper books.

(I then don't know why people don't buy more *used* books, which can be had for the price of an e-book, whether at $10 or at $15. Because the e-book version is so much more convenient than the used paper copy?)

I know this thread is dead, but if anyone out there could provide me with data on the kinds of things they prefer to buy/read/possess in e-book version, I'd be less puzzled.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 12:53 PM
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How big is the e-book market, anyway? I've never purchased one and have very little desire to.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 12:56 PM
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57: It's a power struggle between a publisher and a retailer. It was pretty much bound to happen, and I'm glad it has, because thus far, the publishers have been on the weakened side of the debate. What's at stake, to my mind, is publishers remaining financially robust enough to be able to support publication of smaller, more risky, works. I really don't want to see nothing but the promise of big sales (volume, volume!) drive publishing houses' decisions; that's already bad enough as it is.

The nature of the contractual agreement under dispute, something called an agency model, is a little unclear -- see the link to the NYT article provided at the ML link in 29.

I'm doing four things at once right now, but I'll look at the Henley piece in a bit.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 1:04 PM
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Because the e-book version is so much more convenient than the used paper copy?

If you're doing research, yes, it is. The main problem I find is that e-books are often incredibly shitty, full of errors and hideous to look at, no good for scholarly work at all. But I have on my computer pdfs of nearly every major first-edition text for my dissertation, labeled neatly with metadata relevant to my project, and I wouldn't trade that to have the actual first editions sitting here in my apartment.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 1:13 PM
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E-books have also allowed for the publication of unabridged historical works that are of no interest to anyone but specialists.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 1:15 PM
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That is very true. Every day I thank Google for digitizing so much of my source material.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 1:22 PM
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62, 63: That's beyond the scope of this discussion, I think. Kindle editions aren't in pdf format, are they? Nor will Apple's thingum be, I don't think, but I'm not sure.

My sense was that scholarly material was available in electronic/scanned version via Google books and so on, which is a whole 'nother ballgame. That has little to nothing to do with active publishers' debates with retailers, and everything to do with libraries' holdings. It's a separate issue. That's my impression.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 1:28 PM
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I sometimes need novels that are out of print except for e-books.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 1:32 PM
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65: The iPad uses the open ePub format for books.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 1:42 PM
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66: You can't find them used? Just curious. What format do you buy them in? I don't think Amazon would be providing them. Do you read them on an e-reader, like a Kindle or Sony reader?

Something's being out of print isn't usually an obstacle that requires resort to an electronic version, unless you're talking something rather scarce, such that the used copies available are too expensive.

I'm not being combative or contrary; I'm just not sure what kind of thing you're referring to.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 1:44 PM
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67: Thanks, Apo.

Further to 68: I think you are talking about Google Books and so on, since your work is in 18th (19th?) century literature. Again, that kind of thing isn't at issue in publishers' debates with online retailers.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 1:51 PM
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O'Reilly Radar (Google it!) has a section on the computer books market, and ebooks are far and away the fastest growing section. Reference books are the perfect application for ebooks.

My understanding is the book seller usually doubles the wholesale price. This is to pay for the space that book consumes while it is gathering dust on the shelf, the time of the people who put it on that shelf, sell it, etc. It is perfectly reasonable that ebooks should be a metric shedload cheaper than paper books as they don't involve all these costs.

What sucks about ebooks is DRM. Books give the owner more freedom than just about any other media. Ebooks take most of those freedoms away.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 1:54 PM
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Oh, another point. Book publishers are letting Amazon sew them up like music publishers let iTunes do to them. This dispute with MacMillian probably has something to do with them finally waking up to the new reality of the Internetz, and realising they better do something about it.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 1:56 PM
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it's really funny if people feel they should be paying a mere couple of dollars for an e-book: what that says to me is that people feel these things are inferior to paper books.

1. Maybe so -- after all, as someone noted, nobody can easily reach into my house and vandalize or vaporize my paper books. It's already happened with e-books. (But it was a mistake! And it will never, never happen again. Just like closed-circuit TV never, never leads to bored or malicious security guards doing inappropriate things.)

2. Or maybe it says that people have a sense of the marginal cost of producing the thing (ahem, virtually nothing) and are resisting what they feel to be price-gouging. If healthcare pricing were even a little more transparent, this would be happening with vaccines for sure.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 1:58 PM
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What's at stake, to my mind, is publishers remaining financially robust enough to be able to support publication of smaller, more risky, works.

Regardless of what happens between Amazon and Macmillian, I don't see that model as being particularly viable in a future where eBooks are common and widely used.

When that day comes, authors of smaller, more risky works won't need Macmillan as an intermediary and gatekeeper to getting published. Not when authors can publish their works directly to Amazon as an eBook, forgo printing, storage, and distribution costs, and keep a larger percentage of the sales price for themselves.

I can see why Macmillian wouldn't want that, and why they would prefer that eBooks remain an expensive, boutique product.

Meanwhile, Amazon knows that if Kindle books get a reputation for being stupid expensive, ain't nobody going to buy a Kindle, and eBooks won't take off as a medium for years to come.

As a consumer, I prefer Amazon's vision of the future to Macmillian's, and I'm glad to see Amazon standing up for it.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 2:04 PM
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This is reminding me that I had a patron recently with a terribly frustrating situation: Taking an online history course at a community college; textbook is on back order; first two assignments call for textbook readings; professor is unresponsive to e-mail or phone message.

I tried everything I knew to try to get all or part of the book -- statewide library database, review of university libraries' holdings, web-based searches for selected essays or articles by the author....nothing. Amazon says publisher is out of stock and will be refilled "soon." Course is a compressed winter term: seven weeks long.

It's not so much that e-books would solve this problem (heaven knows, patrons often have even more issues with technological fixes). It's how badly people can get crunched by economic forces outside their control. The college, the college bookstore, the professor, the student, even the publisher -- they're all trying to making individually rational economic choices among expensive options with uncertain outcomes.

Bah. Where's Emerson when I need him?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 2:11 PM
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Both google and the internet archive have been trying to put the public domain books they have in the ePub format, but google has gotten a late start on that I think so most of their stuff is still just in pdf. The internet archive has fewer books, but higher quality scans and more formats.

Anyway, the public domain "market" seems very different than the in-copyright market. Most of the e-books I have are public domain and its quite convenient to be able to carry them around anywhere I take the disk(s) they're on and not have to return them after a lending period and not have to go searching the rare books market to own them. They're not always more convenient to read like that, so it's a trade-off.

I have an O'Reilly ebook - which I don't think is DRM'd - because it was cheaper than the print book and I didn't have to wait for the mail. As a reference book, it might have been better to have the print, since sometimes it's annoying to have to switch back and forth between windows each time you follow a new step, but without a stable home/office set-up, I preferred not having to lug it around.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 2:11 PM
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62: Since journal articles started appearing in pdf format, my life got so much easier and my bag now has room for liquor instead of photocopies.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 2:12 PM
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72.2: Henley's piece was interesting in that regard, and all I can say is: do people really pick apart the cost of a piece of hardware, or of an apple, in that way? It's bizarre to me to watch someone ask a publisher to justify his costs for a single item down to the micro-dollar.

To the larger point: if the costs of producing the thing (the e-book) are virtually nothing, realize that e-book purchases are replacing the purchase of paper books, and the publisher will not be able to continue publishing at the rate and quality its customers expect if its income is continually reduced.

The villainization* of publishers is really amazing to me. Yes, I know they charge too much for textbooks, and that's a racket, but c'mon: are they taking in bazillions in annual profits and granting their CEOs ginormous bonuses? No, so chill out about the awful terrible publishers who provide good books which the public really wants, from what I gather, and is just fussing because they wish they could have more of them, please.

* is there something wrong with the spelling of that word?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 2:21 PM
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I'm going to have to think about Spike's 73.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 2:23 PM
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used copies available are too expensive

This is the case for a lot of 18c books, many of which were wildly popular in their own time, but have only been reprinted sporadically for educational purposes. When they do come out in occasional editions of varying quality, they're snapped up. There were at least five important novels on my orals list that I literally could not purchase for less than $75 (in shitty ab-used paperback eds) unless I bought e-books. That was before Google books had as much up as they do now, but there's still a lot you can't get on Google and isn't on Gutenberg.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 2:26 PM
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The villainization* of publishers is really amazing to me. Yes, I know they charge too much for textbooks, and that's a racket, but c'mon: are they taking in bazillions in annual profits and granting their CEOs ginormous bonuses?

This surprises me. There are corporations that don't grant their CEOs ginormous bonuses? Should they really be called "corporations" if that is the case?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 2:28 PM
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79: Hasn't EEBO, or something like that, put up a lot of stuff, albeit in a proprietary database? Or is that too early for your work? I seem to remember everything in the English Short Text Catalog that was on microfilm now being digitized. Plus readex was supposed to be doing the same thing, also proprietarily, for early American publications (based on their microprint stuff).


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 2:31 PM
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Answering my own question, EEBO seems to stop at 1700. I remember getting something from 1790 or so in its entirety from some subscription database a few years ago, but now I don't remember where that was. But my search results suggested that they had a large 18th century collection. I remember having to download in sections of about 25 or 50 pages at a time.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 2:40 PM
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EEBO is so, so rad. I wish I worked on earlier texts more often, because it is the bestest.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 2:44 PM
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Book publishers and authors are good and deserve monopoly rents, music publishers, musicians, and filmakers and studios are eeeeeevil, and don't. Got it.

Hey, maybe everyone can just self-publish and make money from T Shirts! What's the problem? (Or maybe we actually do need an infrastructure and intermediaries for culture, and maybe creative people do need to be compensated.)

This isn't directed at anyone in particular, and I'm not actually very sympathetic with MacMillan in this dispute (suck it up, individual titles will sell for less but you can gain in volume) but is there even the remotest chance that Making Light thread would have read the same way if we wer talking about the music industry? No, there isn't. And yet, it's exactly the same issue.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 2:45 PM
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To the larger point: if the costs of producing the thing (the e-book) are virtually nothing, realize that e-book purchases are replacing the purchase of paper books, and the publisher will not be able to continue publishing at the rate and quality its customers expect if its income is continually reduced.

And yet printing is a real and significant cost offsetting that income for paper books.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 2:47 PM
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79: I remain curious about where you're looking for used copies of reprints. Not to say that I think you haven't looked, but I don't know if you know about bookfinder.com. Or addall.com, a similar site. It's perfectly plausible to me that the texts you're talking about are scarce even in reprint, though, and are highly priced.

Heh! It's almost like we could use a healthier reprint publisher!

I know I've been verging on ... emotional ... in all of this, but I do worry, from a preservationist's perspective, I suppose, about the effect of reduced reserves of paper copies of things in favor of all digital all the time.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 2:49 PM
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Yes, I know they charge too much for textbooks, and that's a racket, but c'mon: are they taking in bazillions in annual profits and granting their CEOs ginormous bonuses? No....

Maybe.

I mean, my somewhat limited understanding of the market is that people are talking about at least two different things when they talk about "publishers." (Three if you count university presses, which for the sake of my blood pressure I will not.)

1. More or less stand-alone small and mid-size publishers. Just last night, I was delightedly browsing Fitzhenry and Whiteside, planning which of their lovely nature and science books I will be buying for the sobrinos.

2. Gargantuan publishing subsidiaries of multinational, multimedia corporations. For at least twenty years there has been a steady deterioration in the quality of proofreading, illustration, and typesetting of many kinds of mass-market books. This is attributable at least in part to immense pressures for quarterly profits caused by formerly stand-alone publishers becoming part of these larger corporations and simultaneously beholden to their bottom lines.

While many of group #1 have closed their doors over the years, new little ones spring up all the time (and generally don't make any money, and fade away).

Group #2 has followed a "grow or die" mantra through mergers and acquisitions and movie tie-ins, which maybe was necessary to survive -- I don't have the background to know -- but has resulted in a truly miserable experience the last time I went to Borders, in which the entire rack of beginner readers was either selected classics of at least 40 years' vintage (Put Me in the Zoo, Amelia Bedelia) or poorly written, cheaply illustrated merchandising junk of barely seasonal vintage.

What appears to be almost completely gone as far as I can tell is the idea of a large publishing housing retaining editors who oversee their own imprints, cultivating and publishing a recognizable stable of authors.

So if I'm buying a book these days, I have to assume of my $26.95 hardcover price, the author is perhaps getting a princely $1, the retailer is getting $12, a lousy printer is getting some amount of real money for this garbage binding, some freelancer got .10 to proofread it badly, one or two staffers at the publisher got to keep their jobs, and the rest of the money went to, I don't know, Rupert Murdoch's shareholders.

It's enough to make you want to set up your own little boutique publishing house...but wait....


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 2:49 PM
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77: To the larger point: if the costs of producing the thing (the e-book) are virtually nothing, realize that e-book purchases are replacing the purchase of paper books, and the publisher will not be able to continue publishing at the rate and quality its customers expect if its income is continually reduced.

I think in the minds of those thinking about the issue this way, the reduced per-unit production costs should lead to the publisher's income going upwards. Getting overly simplistic about it, suppose a hardcover costs $15 to produce and retails for $20. This means $5 of per-unit profit. Now suppose an eBook costs $1e-7 to send to your Kindle, and yet retails for $10. Now we have, effectively $10 of per-unit profit. So each time an eBook purchase is substituted for a hardcover, twice as much is made, and thus the publisher's income should be going up.

These numbers of course probably have nothing to do with reality, but I believe this is the thinking. Production costs are thought to have gone way down, but retail prices are thought to have gone down by some amount less than the amount that production costs have been reduced, and so people think more money is being made on each sale. If the number of books sold remains the same, but more of the purchases are e-purchases, then total income should go up.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 2:52 PM
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And yet printing is a real and significant cost offsetting that income for paper books.

And warehousing, and shipping...

I should mention that I haven't purchased an e-reader and am not planning to.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 2:53 PM
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I suppose "income" in 88 should be "net income".


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 2:55 PM
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And will no one pity the poor person who works the printing press? What happens to him, Mr. MacMillan and Mr. Amazon? Crushed under the wheels of e-progress, I suppose.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:01 PM
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Walt didn't read the census thread from the other night, obviously. Never fear, Walt; the printers of America are still employed.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:06 PM
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Everyone hates a devil. Poor devils.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:06 PM
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That Jim Henley article is great. If there were a similar breakdown for the price of an apple, I would definitely read it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:07 PM
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In the UK I've bought from print-on-demand republishers. I wanted a copy of a philosophy book, published about 15 years ago, and that was how it was supplied. I presume that exists in the US, too.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:07 PM
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I would read a lot more comic books if I were reading them on an iPad, I tell you what. (I am not sure what would be the optimal amount/way for comic book publishers to charge me for them, though. A monthly fee that gave me access to lots of material is what I'd like, but I don't know how well that would work for them.)


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:08 PM
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88: Well said; I know that's the thinking. I'm thinking about it. I just don't know enough about the costs in a major publishing house. There are editors and proofreaders to be paid, advertising to be done, book tours and so on, reviewers to be solicited; not to mention paying the talent as it were ... these remain constant. Obviously the cost for an e-book version of something is not remotely close to zero ...

Halford gets it right at 84: maybe we actually do need an infrastructure and intermediaries for culture, and maybe creative people do need to be compensated

I think publishing houses have been struggling for some time now, would like to have more freedom to take a gamble on the kind of thing Witt describes ("retaining editors who oversee their own imprints, cultivating and publishing a recognizable stable of authors"), and are trying to negotiate their way, with the e-book revolution, toward a way to regain more freedom. Or maybe I'm starry-eyed.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:08 PM
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I know I've been verging on ... emotional ... in all of this, but I do worry, from a preservationist's perspective, I suppose, about the effect of reduced reserves of paper copies of things in favor of all digital all the time.

Yes, I'm involved in (digital) book preservation stuff and even the experts aren't entirely sure the problems are solved. A lot of stuff is going to get lost or disappear. It's a similar situation with photography.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:10 PM
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Creative people are the people who need least to be compensated. Do you know who needs to be compensated? Garbage collectors.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:15 PM
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And the costs involved are staggering. I happen to know the file volume of just the material from the, erm, place where I work as scanned by a certain company for their elgoog boks site, and it's gigantic. Just finding a safe way of storing that material, never mind doing any kind of digital 'curation' of it, serving it up to people, or doing any of the other nifty things we are going to want to do with that content is a totally non-trivial problem. Multiply that by many orders of magnitude for larger volumes of stuff.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:17 PM
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86: The cheapest Sir Charles Grandison I've come across in my searches is $76, and now seems to be around $100, and that's for a OWC paperback from 25 years ago. One of those shitty reprint houses that won't offer an editor's name, promises many typos and bits of missing text, and only includes the first (of seven!) volumes charges about $15.

And Grandison is only 1300 pages or so. Clarissa, which hits around 1900 pages, sells for about $15 from Penguin. I've asked my dissertation director to will me his Grandison.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:17 PM
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volumes s/b volume


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:18 PM
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I remember getting something from 1790 or so in its entirety from some subscription database a few years ago,

Early American Imprints (Evans or Shaw-Shoemaker)? It covers 1639-1819. I find it quite useful.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:26 PM
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97: Or maybe I'm starry-eyed

In either event, I'd like to meet the publisher who stole the stars from the sky and put them in your eyes (is that how the line goes?).

sorry


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:27 PM
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100: Ah! Thanks, ttaM, for added information. Of course that stuff costs; dunno why we've all been acting like information is free.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:29 PM
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103: But it was British!


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:30 PM
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105: information wants to be free. And so it also wants to be of questionable quality and to originate only from the independently wealthy.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:33 PM
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106: Ah. Though of course it contains many an English book that was reprinted in the colonies/states, but I suppose still not what you used.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:33 PM
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106: ECCO? It's wildly expensive, but considered absolutely necessary for scholarly work. There's a disturbing gap now between schools that can afford it and those that can't.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:38 PM
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Link.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:40 PM
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98, 100: I would hope that the, er, place you work is planning on keeping the paper copies around just as they've been doing so far.

The marginally valuable stuff* is probably more at risk from poor digitization + pulping, just as poor microfilm versions are sometimes the only existing copies of some things.

*Depends on how "value" is assigned, of course.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:43 PM
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109: Yes, that's it. The library here subscribes and I found the book. Which is also now freely available at the internet archive in a couple of editions, although not in the one that I downloaded.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:49 PM
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111.1: ttaM speaks for himself, but I'm sure they are.

It's just that digitization reduces the call for paper reprinting. That's sort of a shame. It would be good to have paper reprints of those 18c novels AWB referred to, for example. Her stuff looks like a good example of the disappearance of the texts from regular circulation.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:55 PM
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IIRC, Grandison was Jane Austen's favorite novel (or at least her favorite Richardson), and still considered absolutely canonical in 18c lit. It's stupid not to be able to have it on my shelf.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 3:58 PM
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I would think that far, far more stuff would never be available outside of a few libraries and ILL (if you're lucky) if not for large-scale public domain digitization than would be available in sporadic reprint editions if there were no digitization. There are a few places where you can get public domain reprints printed on demand through the so-called espresso machine, if that doesn't offend your sensibilities. The espresso machine seems more like a novelty right now, though.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 4:04 PM
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The espresso machine seems more like a novelty right now, though.

It's a fad. Invest in a Clover.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 4:18 PM
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Wouldn't this be a good project for a governmental agency? Just as the LoC gets a copy of everything, couldn't they also do what GoogleBooks is doing and make it freely available?

just as poor microfilm versions are sometimes the only existing copies of some things.

In some ways things which are only available in a handful of hardcopies are more problematic. I remember doing research that involved carefully going through turn of the century semi-underground periodicals. NYPL had them, in one key case the only US copy. Every evening I would have a thick layer of paper crumbs on the table as I finished up. I felt horrible, and was as careful as I could be, but century old poor quality paper is what it is.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 4:44 PM
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1. More or less stand-alone small and mid-size publishers.

Positive anecdote about small publishers. It sounds like my brother has convinced Shenkman Books to re-print Experiment At Evergreen. I don't know how long that will take, but it seems like a good thing to me.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 5:14 PM
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Gasp! A problem that cannot be solved by recourse to procedural liberalism and bourgeois democracy! Whatever shall we do?

Give me Shevek's battles with the printing syndics any day over the current situation.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 5:21 PM
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I would read a lot more comic books if I were reading them on an iPad, I tell you what.

This is the first thing I have ever read that made me, for a moment, want an iPad.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 5:27 PM
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||

Shorter tonight's Andy Rooney: boy, earthquakes sure are bad.

|>


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 5:55 PM
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115: I would think that far, far more stuff would never be available outside of a few libraries and ILL (if you're lucky) if not for large-scale public domain digitization than would be available in sporadic reprint editions if there were no digitization.

Oh yes, sure. It's not an all-or-nothing proposition.

As was said earlier on, there's a difference between e-reader versions of in-print books and digitized (scanned) copies of out-of-print rare stuff. The mechanics, the markets, the players, are all different. We began to conflate the two in this thread.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 6:24 PM
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I was in a bookstore just this afternoon and tried out the displayed Sony readers. One of them wouldn't turn on at all and on the other one the page-turner kept sticking and the text flickered and highlighted words at random. I'm sure that the display models get a lot of rough use, but boy, was I not convinced I needed to go digital.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 6:39 PM
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Further to 122 and the quoted 115: libraries are acquiring fewer and fewer things. They're usually considered to be the holders of rarer items. Less and less so these days, however.

Books are becoming similar to museum pieces, and the question becomes: who holds them? (Is it that nobody wants them? I find this hard to believe.) Libraries can't afford to act as museums. Though special collections librarians can speak to this better than I can; I'm talking out of my hat to an extent, poking around in this. My understanding is that special collections are often funded through private endowments.

This is the direction we're going in, though: the end of paper books in favor of digitized ones. Someone really should be holding on to the paper copies.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 6:53 PM
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No more masturbating to Amazon standing up to Macmillian.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 6:56 PM
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119.first: same thing we always do: get used to being disappointed.


Posted by: Turgid jacobian | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 6:59 PM
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125: What, Amazon capitulated? That'd be interesting.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 7:01 PM
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123 reminds me of the message board in the lobby of my building. It used to be a board with a bunch of posters about upcoming events, so people would look at it and scan the posters. Now there is a video screen that nobody has ever looked at, because to know what is going on you would have to stare at it for some unknown amount of time while it scrolls through everything. Also, of course, a bulletin board does not suddenly vanish from time to time, while this screen sometimes is occupied entirely by a message from Windows saying that your operation has timed ouit.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 7:03 PM
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127: Indeed they did. I'm kinda surprised, I thought they had the upper hand.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 7:08 PM
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129: Link?

(I'm not surprised; they can't acquire the product from anywhere else but Macmillan. When people want a Macmillan title, that's what they want. There's nothing else to take its place. Also probably massive lawyer consultations to do with antitrust laws.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 7:18 PM
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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/31/AR2010013101774.html


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 7:26 PM
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Thanks.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 7:47 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 7:52 PM
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Does anyone have an actual breakdown of what goes into the price of a book - the $8.00 paperback, the $15.00 trade paperback, or the $30.00 hardcover? Presumably we're talking retailer profit, shipping, warehousing, physical production, non physical production costs, author, publisher profits, and unsold books losses.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 01-31-10 9:03 PM
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re: 124

Libraries can't afford to act as museums. Though special collections librarians can speak to this better than I can; I'm talking out of my hat to an extent, poking around in this. My understanding is that special collections are often funded through private endowments.

Shit yes. Libraries of that type are often part of universities, which are being squeezed in terms of funding, and being asked to justify their existence in terms not really compatible with having lots of specialist staff who are there to make sure the old books are looked after. Digitisation costs are large, so the bulk of digitisation projects [at least where I work] are funded by a combination of one-off grants from government funding bodies, and private donors. Ditto, I think, preservation projects for the paper books, and so on.

One-off grants, however, are pretty good at, say, funding initial image capture, and (sometimes) metadata creation, but not really structurally the best way of funding all of the ongoing never-ending costs that come after. Archival digital storage, provision of on-demand public access, format migration, etc, etc. Those are ongoing costs, that never go away.

How do you make a couple of hundred [or more] terabytes of data, say, into something that's still going to be accessible and useful in 20, 50 or 100 years time? The sorts of problems that don't seem insurmountable when you are dealing with a couple of hundred images become stupidly huge when you are deaing with tens of millions.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 12:11 AM
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How do you make a couple of hundred [or more] terabytes of data, say, into something that's still going to be accessible and useful in 20, 50 or 100 years time?

Disturbingly, no one really knows, including the experts who spend all their time working on this. Aside from the ongoing backup, refresh, migrate, etc. operations that people are currently doing - or should be doing.

There's some thought that this is going to lead to more centralization in terms of physical digital storage as smaller places that can't afford to host their own digitized stuff turn those services over to larger repositories who can take it on. Presumably the smaller places would still do on-site physical preservation, access, outreach, etc. but who knows. It could also undercut justifications for their existence. And the digital repositories had better have their shit together or else a disaster would take down a lot more than their stuff.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 12:25 AM
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Disturbingly, no one really knows, including the experts who spend all their time working on this.

Indeed. I've sat in meeting where people are discussing new fancy systems to do this stuff and where someone else has admitted, later, that no-one's really sure in 10 years time if it'll still be working.

One of my current projects is migrating a (small-ish) digital archive that was created about 10 - 12 years ago, and while the images were stored in a format still widely in use [thankfully], it's still a surprisingly long-winded process just moving the files around, never mind doing the 'curatorial' work on them that would be getting done in an ideal world. Leaving aside the problem that images shot 10 or 12 years ago just aren't really up to scratch in terms of what we now think of as acceptable quality.*

* ironically, glass plates and film negs of the same stuff shot decades ago are often of higher quality [although of course require digitisation themselves]. Something that's worth doing because sometimes glass plates of manuscripts show information that's no longer visible on the original ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 12:33 AM
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The AP's write-up of the Amazon-Macmillan fight actually does more than just parrot the Amazon press release. Maybe the Washington Post and New York Times have better stories up now, but the initial reports their websites might as well have just linked to amazon's announcement without pretending to have done reporting. Anyway, it seems a lot of the dispute was about hardcover sales, with e-books being caught in the middle.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 1:01 AM
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Belatedly, but connected to ttaM's posts above:

In the middle of December two trailer trucks left New York City bound for Austin, Tex., packed with a precious and unusual cargo: the entire collection of pictures amassed over more than half a century by the Magnum photo cooperative, whose members have been among the world's most distinguished photojournalists.
It is one of the most important photography archives of the 20th century, consisting of more than 180,000 images known as press prints, the kind of prints once made by the collective to circulate to magazines and newspapers. They are marked on their reverse sides with decades of historical impasto -- stamps, stickers and writing chronicling their publication histories -- that speaks to their role in helping to create the collective photo bank of modern culture.
[T]he prints have always been kept at the agency's headquarters, which has moved around Manhattan. But like many other photo agencies Magnum began digitally scanning its archive many years ago... [T]he new owners have reached an agreement with the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin to place it there, for study and exhibition, for at least the next five years. It will be the first time that the archive, which for the last several years had been crowded onto shelves at Magnum's modest offices on West 25th Street, will be accessible to scholars and the public.

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:05 PM
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Looks like it's just the prints, not the negatives, which I guess may still be in the photographers' possession. Hopefully, those will be taken care of too.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:09 PM
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re: 139

Interesting. The prints are going to be quite important in their own right, since they'll record how the photographers/editors wanted their stuff to look.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 2-10 12:10 AM
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The other interesting thing is that the collection at the Ransom Center is only on a 5 year loan. A lot of archives won't make that kind of deal - they go for full physical possession, but don't always get copyright - because it can involve quite complicated negotiations with the owner/short-term donor. But such a valuable collection like that would have been very difficult to pass up.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 2-10 12:24 AM
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We hold a lot of collections where we don't have copyright, e.g. the original manuscripts of a certain Czech writer whose name begins with 'K', and whose works include that thing about the bloke turning into an insect. We have those, and I've been working on a project with the material, but copyright/control of the collection rests elsewhere.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 2-10 12:31 AM
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Yeah, I think it's fairly rare to get copyright to everything here, but at least in US law copyright and physical possession are not completely linked. So it's fairly common for a place to own a bunch of manuscripts and to be able to set terms of access to them, but for a researcher to have to contact the authors (or their heirs, etc.) for permission to publish.

I think places used to make loan agreements more often, but the introductory manuals I've seen advise trying to get physical ownership over the material objects - I guess I don't know how often that actually works out in practice.

Government records have a lot of letters where the sender no longer owns the letter as a physical object, but still retains copyright for it.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 2-10 12:42 AM
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re: 144.1

Yes, very similar here.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 2-10 12:51 AM
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