One Quirky Way of Seeing e-Books vs. Real Books

from Public Open Access
I'm just going to go on and say it, this e-book business between publishers, authors, and consumers in today's era is a paradoxical foible. Did I write foible? I think I mean fallacy, or diabolical maybe. Oooh! No. Just looked up diabolical. Don’t think I mean that.

Here’s the way I see it. On one end there are the consumers who see e-books in the same container as they saw physical books… when it comes to price, of course. In the virtual form it shouldn’t cost as much ‘most’ argue, even if books in this form are so much more convenient to carry around. And consumers are talking about carrying around tons of books... while on vacation!?! But never mind that convenience factor, many consumers still believe it has to cost more to print books.

…While on the other end there are the publishers who realize the ‘real’ cost of sending their intellectual products into cyberspace will cost far more than it would cost to produce physical books. Without going into a long business argument here, physical books have an inherent security feature that doesn’t cost a publisher a dime. Sending books into the virtual sphere, this inherent feature needs to be replaced, or rather in place. It’s a virtual fee most consumers do not see. A fee that is as steep as printing books. Despite the notion, the publishing industry shifting gears to accommodate a virtual way of doing business still costs. Jobs and functions shift, right along with costs. But that’s leading into an economic brawl. We don't want to go there... not just yet. That's some heavy stuff.

In the middle layer are the authors. Where does this leave them? Incidentally, from where the basic product stems. Without authors, there is NO product. Virtual or otherwise. And true too, without publishers and its host of employees, there is no quality product. So here’s where we now find ourselves, quite a few authors throwing their lesser quality work into the virtual pool trying to make a little change…while the going is good. That’s what it’s all about anyway… in all three sects… everyone trying to profit…one way or another.

Now here's the picture in color.

There’s the car of our dreams we want, and the living room set, and oh, how about everything Neimen’s and Saks sells on the first floor. What I would do with a pair of Via Spiga shoes would be my greatest untold crime yet. But oh, look! Here comes the Cranberry. And ya’ll, the Cranberry is the latest virtual toy that hosts all of the products I’ve just listed. You know, the car, the furniture, and yes dear Lord *thank you* that funky bad wardrobe and Via Spigas to boot. Umm…hmm… just turn to page 153 and there’s our couch. On page 95 there are our shoes. And right there on page 200 is our spanking new car. In the footnotes it says this car takes zero dollars for gas, (of course), and can accelerate on take off up to 200 miles an hour. Damn! I could be in California in no time!

Get to the checkout view-screen and what do we find out? This is going to cost us what!?! Two-hundred thousand… you must be out of your friggin’ mind!!! “It shouldn’t cost that much,” we yell into our screens! It’s not the real thing. No one had to build these things. It’s just a damn picture!

But guess what else we learn? That’s right. You’ve guessed it. Several IT programmers who spent thirty some thousand dollars (each) on their IT programmer degrees had to build that little picture for us to look at. And yes, you’re right there as well. I don’t think building no picture should cost that much. But guess again… it does. Another programmer had to build in a security feature (otherwise the picture becomes worthless), and then there was the license to write, and his boss who takes care of legal matters had to be paid for their time consulting the law, and all of these people need healthcare benefits. We wouldn't want people to be working without healthcare benefits now would we?

And oops... did I forget to mention about what becomes of all those working for the retail stores and in the auto industry (as related to this parable)? Not that many might care, of course unless it happens to be 'our' career track... they'll show up on our pay stub in one of the deduction columns.

In other words, behind the virtual world is a quirky world a sight more ‘real’ to see. Everything gets shifted. And please reread if you must. I didn’t say any of this was a bad thing, or shouldn't be, or won’t work, or won’t happen. I happen to believe it will happen, just like how I know the cost will be divvied around…unless we out maneuver physics.