Flutterby™! : on economic friction

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on economic friction

2004-12-12 21:37:24.356318+00 by Dan Lyke 11 comments

Oh yeah: The other thing I wanted to add to MarkV's Why is podcasting important? is: One of the reasons we believed in the hype of the .com boom, that there was all of this inefficiency in the economy that could be removed and we could see huge growth, is that there is an amazing amount of inefficiency in the economy.

I haven't found the cite for this, and maybe someone could give me the exact reference, but apparently the comment was made by an author at BloggerCon that if Amazon sold one of his books, he got like a buck and a half. If they sold it through his affiliate link, he got well over twice that. The process of delivering customers for that content was twice as remunerative as the process of creating the content.

That sure looks like room for optimization to me. And if we could deliver that wasted money straight to the creators, rather than blowing it on the distributors, we could support people further out on "the long tail", and get more that's directly pertinent to our lives.

[ related topics: Books New Economy Net Culture Economics ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-13 15:06:55.454903+00 by: ziffle


If bears could fly.

The book market is a fairly free market. You can print them yourself and sell them and keep all the money but, ...

If the author thought he was getting ripped by Amazon, then he would not sell through them. It costs a lot to market stuff.

I think the market is very efficient, unless you have licensing or government controls or such, like health care or lawyers.


#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-13 17:56:35.17346+00 by: Dan Lyke

I don't think the author thought he was getting ripped off, Amazon is obviously fulfilling an economic need.

But when I see fractions like that, whether in code or in an economy, I think "optimization potential".

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-13 18:18:50.900884+00 by: Dan Lyke

Oh, and I should also note that I, and probably the mentioned author, believe that Amazon has already removed quite a bit of inefficiency from portions of the product distribution system, which is why they might actually make it as a going concern.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-14 00:10:18.22805+00 by: Dori

I wasn't the one who said that, but I was the one nodding dramatically. For every $x I make per book in royalties, I make about 3 times that if someone buys it off the Amazon link from one of my sites. It's fairly amazing, and it's one of the reasons why I push my book links so hard.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-14 23:10:56.964022+00 by: Dan Lyke

One of the reasons I think there's something to be squeezed out of the economics of this is that I've got Mark Pilgrim's Dive Into Python as both hardcopy, and downloaded on my laptop. It was nice to read it on the hardcopy, but it turns out that as a useful document it's much handier to have it on my laptop.

But the only reason I bought the dead trees version is Mark's online presence. Similarly, I've got your JavaScript for the World Wide Web, and I think I'd be as happy with HTML files on my laptop.

In both of these transactions the author was the person who brought me to the book, and I'm finding that the publisher, and even the book process, are becoming incidental to the relationship that I have as a reader with the author.

I'd be able to afford that much more cool entertainment, or the authors I enjoy would be able to afford that much more rice and beans, if we could remove some of that inefficiency. And there may even be space for a third party to make money in that space too, by doing whatever the new analog to that process more efficiently than the publishers and book sellers are currently doing it.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-14 23:40:32.689336+00 by: Dori

Dan, have you looked at Safari Books? I suspect that it might scratch at least some of your itch.

And this is also, btw, one of the main reasons why all the source code from our JavaScript book is available free for the downloading, whether you've bought the book or not.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-15 01:21:29.408295+00 by: crasch

The problem is that I don't want my credit card info. going to some non-professional's website, or the hassle of setting up yet another account. Amazon also provides a lot of useful tools that make it easier to find books, keep track of the books I want, and avoid books I don't want. Anything that cut out Amazon would have to provide those same services at lower cost before I'm likely to switch.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-15 06:32:27.502906+00 by: Dori

The problem is that I don't want my credit card info. going to some non-professional's website

What is this in relation to? Given that Safari is a joint venture between O'Reilly Media and Pearson Technology, I certainly wouldn't call them non-pro.

Sadly, I get less money if you purchase/rent books through them, but if you want files on your laptop versus dead trees, they're the way to go.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-15 15:09:24.395046+00 by: meuon

Dori, I saw your free code, played with it, and bought your (and Tom's) book. If everone thought that way, you'd be very well off.. :)

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-15 17:43:11.209377+00 by: Dan Lyke

I've avoided Safari Books so far because it looked like they did their best to make the service unusable when the machine wasn't attached to the net, and because I haven't wanted an O'Reilly book in a while. I guess what I really need to do is stop buying computer books because I appreciate the web services that the authors of those books provide, and just start sending money directly to those authors.

This is also something that goes beyond computer books, I've got a bunch of donations to the folks who write my daily comics that I need to get out, too.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-15 23:17:10.33264+00 by: Dori

Dori, I saw your free code, played with it, and bought your (and Tom's) book. If everyone thought that way, you'd be very well off.. :)

Thank you! My attitude is, I suspect, based on spending time around open source folks--the code is a small part of the package; what really has value is the description and documentation. So if the code helps sell some of the books, yay!

I've avoided Safari Books so far because ... I haven't wanted an O'Reilly book in a while.

Safari isn't just O'Reilly, though; it's actually all the Pearson imprints, too (e.g., Peachpit, who publishes most of our books).

I feel like a shill for Safari now, which is really strange because I'm not even a big fan of the service...