Re: Fear of Life (was Microsoft, Automation)

Warrl kyree Tale'sedrin (
Sun, 3 May 1998 12:42:49 +0000

> From: Dan Fabulich <>

> Warrl kyree Tale'sedrin wrote:
> >In other words, the artist should get paid a certain amount for
> >writing the book (who pays, and why?) without regard to whether many
> >people prove they like it by, for example, buying copies.
> An author sells the first copy to a private entity. The market decides
> whether someone wants to buy it.
> Meanwhile, a publisher will invest in new books, because having a new book
> on the market should increase the total demand for books

The problem is that *any* publisher can secure the rights to publish
a new book, for the retail price set by the first store to have the
book publically available.

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

> (from which, as an
> externality, all publishers will benefit). However, the first buyer will
> gain in part from that increase in demand. So as long as the increased
> profit you get from increased demand outweighs the price the publisher must
> pay the author for making the book,

But the problem is, the publisher who pays the author for writing the
book, and who pays the expenses of advertising, DOESN'T get an
increased profit from the increased demand: other publishers, who pay
neither of those expenses, bring the book out at a lower price.

> buying new art is still worthwhile,
> though less worthwhile than it was when the government was granting
> publishers monopoly status over copies of their books.

In fact it is so much less worthwhile, that what you can afford to
pay the artist is too low. It isn't worthwhile for the artist to
produce the art.

If the artist doesn't produce the art, there is little for the
publisher to do.

> >And in general it is never reasonable to spread the cost of
> >production facilities (the author's work is an essential part of
> >producing a book) over the entire production run. The author must
> >get his entire compensation for producing the book out of the sale
> >price of the first book; the printer must get his entire
> >compensation for creating the printshop out of the first item he
> >prints.
> As usual, you are confusing the production of COPIES with the creation of

As usual, you are assuming that publishers will still pay massive
amounts for new art, when they cannot restrict who makes copies and
therefore have no way of generating the revenue with which to pay
those massive amounts.

> The guy who invents a printshop must get his entire compensation
> from inventing the first printshop. The printer gets her compensation from
> printing books.

>From "Printing" books?

I thought he would have to SELL the books.

The problem is, the publisher who pays the author for writing the
book in the first place -- and who pays the marketing expenses to
create demand for that book -- has expenses that no other publisher
must pay. So EVERY other publisher can publish the same book, a
couple days later, and sell it at a LOWER PRICE.

Why do you suppose that an expected major seller comes out in
hardback, and then a year later comes out in paperback? Answer: the
publisher wants to recoup as much as he can, and perhaps even make a
profit, up front. Most people who buy the book in the first week
would buy the paperback if it were available, and the publisher makes
less money off the paperback.

You propose that SOME OTHER COMPANY can bring the paperback out THAT
FIRST WEEK, and the publisher won't be harmed thereby.

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