Re: Fear of Life (was Microsoft, Automation)

Warrl kyree Tale'sedrin (
Tue, 5 May 1998 18:34:52 +0000

> From: "Lee Daniel Crocker" < (none)>

> > 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.

I defy you to name ONE such way that is not already in use.

But some people who write books, DON'T want to become TV stars.

And, by eliminating intellectual property, you eliminate many of
these ways. Because many of them are based on identity as the
author, but the author has no more legal claim to that identity than
anyone else. There would be nothing in law to stop you from taking a
pseudonym that happens to be the name on the cover of a book written
by someone else, and going around giving speeches as if you had
written it.

> 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

In a world without copyright, authors will seek what they seek today:
the publisher that will likely generate the most revenue while being
reasonable (according to the author's standards) on other issues.

The startup cost to a second publisher, absent copyright, is:

(1) buy a copy that was published by the first publisher;

(2) feed the pages into a copy machine, of appropriate
sort and sophistication for the size of the production run.

(3) bind the results.

(4) deliver and sell the copies to a local bookstore for less than
the original publisher's wholesale price.

Notice what you *don't* see here:

* advertising the book

* paying the author

* reading the slushpile to decide what's worth publishing

Those items -- that the first publisher pays but the second publisher
doesn't -- typically cost more than printing and binding the first
print run, which is paid by both the first publisher and the second

> 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.

Why? You are assuming that the original publisher is paying the
author to do all these wonderful things; so you must assume that
they are being done even if the second publisher *doesn't* pay the
author to do them.

> 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.

Please explain how this applies to a typical romance novel.

> What makes you think the idea of "books" as the preferred medium
> of information sales is even a good idea to begin with?

There are few people with access to a wider variety of text media
than I.

For casual reading, I prefer books because of portability,
flexibility, weight, and print quality.

For technical reading and reference, I prefer books because of
portability, flexibility, print quality, and the ability to have a
large number of large items visible simultaneously.

> 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.

Some of us don't think a man's labor is worthless simply because the
essence of his production is non-material.

We will agree to eliminating the protection of intellectual property
the same day we agree to eliminating the protection of physical
property -- including the laws against murder.

> Copyrights do nothing but reward duplication and mediocrity at
> the expense of true creativity and artistry.

Why, then, do nations with meaningful copyright laws have MORE
creativity and artistry than nations without -- and the artists
better rewarded?

In fact, copyrights PROTECT creativity and artistry AGAINST
duplication and mediocrity.

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