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Old 02-02-2009, 08:35 AM   #7
zelda_pinwheel
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that is a very long list and a substantial article, which i don't have time to respond to in depth, however something which strikes me is that many of the costs he mentions are setup / creation / upgrade costs ; that is, one-time initial costs to develop systems and infrastructure to handle ebooks. every business has these and there are always operating costs involved in running a business, particularly if you try to evolve along with a changing industry, technology, or situation. but Mr. Justus seems to think that these costs should be able to be recovered immediately by charging high prices for ebooks from the start, rather than conceiving these costs as typical costs to be amortized by a long-term strategy.

here is an analogy to show why this is unreasonable : recently, i had to replace my computer, which i use to do my job as a webdesigner. this cost me about 650€. to follow Mr. Justus' reasoning, i should have told the client whose project i was working on at that time, "sorry, i've had to buy a new computer to finish your website, so i'll have to charge you 650€ extra to pay for that cost. you can understand why, right ? i need this computer to do your project, so you should support the full cost." this sounds ridiculous, i'm sure even Mr. Justus would agree. but for some reason he thinks that in publishing, this is a reasonable way to operate.

if i tried to recoup every cost involved in running my business instantly, on the back of whatever client i had at that time, instead of saying that i am investing in my business and over time i will recover the costs of the new computer / upgrade to a new version of a graphics program / time spent training myself in new techniques or keeping abreast of the evolution of the industry / whatever by doing many projects with it, then whatever project i was doing at the time i incurred the costs would likely not look very profitable to me, and i would think "well, there is clearly no way to make a living as a webdesigner !! the cost of my new computer / time spent learning this new technique / etc. is eating up all the money i'm making on this project !" and i would be very shortsighted indeed.

perhaps because publishing has not substantially changed in a very long time, publishers seem completely disconnected from any realistic vision of what is involved in keeping a business relevant in a changing professional landscape. if they don't change their perspective, then yes, they will probably not survive the next few years and the emergence of ebooks. but it will be their own fault for not having a reasonable business strategy, not the fault of ebooks.
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