dear publishing industry

Today it finally happened: on my way out of the house this morning, I realized that I’d just finished the last book I was reading, and it was therefore time to pop the next one off the to-read stack.  The next one being a luscious-looking hardcover volume.  I looked at it, looked at my backpack, felt my shoulders a bit, took a deep breath…

…and pulled out my iPhone and ordered the same book from the Kindle Store, so I could read it on the phone.  A book I’d already bought: a mistake I won’t make twice.

Dear publishing industry: Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin.  Amazon is in the process of doing to you what Apple spent the last decade doing to the music industry.  It’s not going to be pretty, and a lot of you basically deserve it.  But I’d really like to see my local awesome specialty bookstore not go out of business as a result of your general incompetence. 

So maybe, just maybe, act a bit less dumb than the record labels?  (You allegedly do less coke than them, so this shouldn’t be that hard, right?)  The music companies insisted on getting as close to pay-per-listen as the law (which they often had a hand in writing) would allow them, and their reward was a generation of no-longer-really-customers who think that downloading albums off bittorrent is just fine.  Those that do pay money do so into walled (or at least strongly fenced) gardens (Apple, Amazon, Rhapsody) where johnny-come-lately tech companies skim off huge profits in return for decimating your physical media sales.  All of their attempts at creating their own supply chain for electronic delivery were crashing failures: they couldn’t compete with Apple on convenience, and they sure as hell couldn’t compete with bittorrent on price.

What I’m saying here is: I just happily handed someone $30 for a bound pile of wood pulp.  Of that $30, you got the lion’s share.  I’m the sort of person who does this regularly.  Want to convince me to do it again, despite the drawbacks of print media?  Stick a mini-CD into the dustflap with a PDF copy I can read when I’m not on my couch.  The pirates will continue jacking your e-books whether you do this or not, but at least this way your local customers won’t all be fleeing directly into Jeff Bezos’ hungry arms.

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