Industry Wags Dog

July 7th, 2004 · No Comments
by Booksquare

If you were to have the misfortune of coming for dinner (or if you’re the poor souls who bought the house behind us…so close to our patio), you would notice a pattern in our evening discussions with the husband. Sure, we talk baseball (he has quite a bit to say on the subject of Ken Macha, and no other subject can be introduced until he’s worn down the rant), but then we often veer into one of our favorite subjects: how the music industry sucks. In fact, that is the name of our ongoing discussion. We have spent years (this is rather embarrassing to admit) dissecting the industry’s approach to the so-called “download problem.” We know the solution — if only someone would knock on the door and ask us.

What does this have to do with books, you say? Probably nothing. Except that the publishing industry, like other entertainment industries, is very comfortable with their paradigms. The husband calls this “muddling through” — or if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Except all those consumers out there have moved on. They are accessing media in new and different ways — they want their media in ways that are convenient. This is why our excitement with Sony’s Librie faded a bit as we realized they were going to make entertainment decisions for us: our books would disappear after a certain period of time. We don’t know about you, but sometimes we like to return to books, to reread favorite passages (or even not-so-favorite-but-stuck-in-our-mind). We might even like to copy direct quotes (always bearin in mind fair use) to make specific points. And sometimes it takes more than 90 days for all of this to happen. We never claimed to have a fast brain.

Just as we are convinced that the music industry’s sales dropped because of the decline of Napster (that and all the stuff you hear on the radio is pretty bad, and they’re choking off ways to discover cool new stuff), we believe any industry that doesn’t look at ways to meet consumer desires is doomed for eventual failure. No, we don’t believe music or books or movies will go away…but these “profits” they seem so excited about might diminish if they fight technology rather than make it work for them.

File Under: Square Pegs