Re: Fear of Life (was Microsoft, Automation)

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Mon, 4 May 1998 00:53:17 -0700 (PDT)

> Since *any* publisher can do this, the *first* publisher will pay no
> more than his anticipated first day sales, minus the cost of setting
> up the production run and a reasonable profit. Let's assume it's a
> massively advertised book from a major author. An expected best
> seller. Put that in real terms: an expected best-seller paperback
> has a first-print run of a million copies or less for the US, which
> print run is expected to last for three months. So figure 100,000
> copies on the first day. (As it happens, 100,000 is also a common
> size print run.) The publisher sells the books for, say, $2 each, so
> he gets $200,000. He's spent $100,000 advertising it, and $75,000 on
> printing and distribution. Since he gets *all* the risk, he wants
> most of the profit. So the author gets $5,000.
> Remember, this is an expected best-seller from a major author. And
> this is ALL the author will ever get for writing that book.
> Today, if you have never sold a novel before and a publisher offers
> you a $5,000 advance, you should probably keep looking for a
> publisher.

The number of completely groundless assumptions in this analysis
are too many to count. First, the idea that the author only makes
money from sales of his book is idiotic. He is much more valuable
than that; he can sell his presence, his expertise, his skill,
the consumer attention of his name, /and/ his labor in a thousand
other ways that authors today don't take advantage of because
their publishers are too lazy and unimaginative to see them. A
second assumption is that the startup cost to a second publisher
is minimal; that too isn't true, because in a world without the
problem of copyright, authors will seek the publisher that can
produce works most efficently, or those who have consumer respect
and attention that their competitors lack, so the risk of
competition is lessened. A third assumption is that the second
publisher will have no use for the author's services, but will
just reprint the original work. A business that stupid would
last about five minutes. Consumers want the latest, the best;
they want information customized to their needs. The author is
in the best position to do that, even after initial publication.
What makes you think the idea of "books" as the preferred medium
of information sales is even a good idea to begin with?

Anytime people claim that a law is "necessary", what they really
mean is that they don't have the imagination to see how the free
market would solve the same problem--if a problem exists--or
else they don't have the courage to do it in the free market.

Copyrights do nothing but reward duplication and mediocrity at
the expense of true creativity and artistry. Patents do nothing
but reward pointless novelty at the expense of workmanship and
quality. Writers and inventors should not be afraid of losing
their jobs to their abolition--they should cheer for losing their
jobs, and being freed to use their talents more profitably in
a thousand other ways that the laws have stifled for too long.

Your argument, like many others in this subject, is in the form
of "The current system has X, Y, Z, A, B, and C; and books get
published, movies are made, etc. Without copyright, you can't
do Y and B, therefore no books will be made, no songs recorded,
and authors will beg in the streets." Nonsense. In a new world
without copyrights, we lose Y and B, but we gain D, E, F, P, Q,
and R, and the whole industry changes, adapts to the new model.
Writers will be no less creative, consumers will no less desire
their services, and more--not less--money will be made, but it
will be made in very different ways that today's publishers
just don't have to brains to imagine or the courage to do.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC