Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Obsolete Anonymous


Moderator: Welcome to Obsolete Anonymous! I've gathered you all here to welcome our latest member, the Print Industry.

Print Industry: Hello, everyone. But there's been a mistake. I don't belong here.

(chuckles all around)

Print Industry: I'm serious. I'm not obsolete. I'm relevant. Print books have been around for hundreds of years. They're never going to be replaced.

VHS Tapes: Yeah, we all thought like that once.

LP Records: It's called denial. It's tough to deal with at first.

VHS tapes: Easy for you to say, LP. You've still got a niche collector market. They can't even give me away on eBay.

Antique Stores: Can we please not mention eBay? I used to have stores all over. But more and more keep closing thanks to that good-for-nothing website.

CDs: At least you still have some stores left. The specialty stores that sell me are almost extinct. I'm down to a few narrow isles at Best Buy and Wal-Mart.

Print Industry: Look, everyone, I assume you all think that ebooks are going to put me out of business. But that won't happen.

Ma Bell: We all deny it at first. I remember when you couldn't walk twenty yards in a city without seeing a pay phone. Then those gosh darn cell phones came along. Do you know some people don't even have land lines anymore? Used to be a land line in every home...

(Ma Bell begins to cry. Print Phonebooks joins in. So does Dial Up Modems. Encyclopedia Britannica, wearing an I Hate Wikipedia T-Shirt, pops a few Prozac. A group hug ensues.)

Video Rental Store: What Ma Bell is trying to say is that when a technology comes along that's faster, easier, and cheaper, the old technology--and all the companies that supported it--tends to fade away.

Print Industry: Why are you here, Video Rental Store? There are still Blockbuster Videos everywhere.

CDs: There were record stores everywhere once.

Cassette Tapes: Hell yeah! They sold cassettes, too! Someone give me a high five!

(no one gives Cassette Tapes a high five)

Video Rental Store: Things looked good for a while. I had a decent, twenty-year run. Then I got hit by all sides. Netflix, shipping DVDs though the mail. On Demand. Tivo. YouTube. But the nail in the coffin came in the past two years. Hula. Roku--which allows Netflix subscribers to stream video instantly. iTunes and Amazon offering movie downloads. Red Box, which rents DVDs for 99 cents and takes up no more space than a Coke machine...

Print Industry: But ebooks are just a tiny percentage of the market. People have been reading print since Gutenberg. They won't adapt to change that easily.

Kodak: You're correct. It takes a few years for people to fully embrace new technology. Some never do. Polaroid never replaced me.

Polaroid: Shut up, Kodak. We both got our asses kicked by digital. When was the last time you sold any 110 film?

TV Antennas: I'm still big in some third world countries!

Typewriter: The bottom line is: when technology improves, it becomes widely adopted. Me and Carbon Paper used to have a groovy thing going. I'd make the words, he would make the copies. Then Xerox got into the act, but he's not doing well now either.

Xerox: F*cking computers.

Floppy Disc: You said it!

Dot Matrix: F*cking laser and inkjet. Doesn't anyone else miss tearing off the perforated hole punches on the side of paper? Don't they miss the feel and smell of that?

Fold-Out Paper Maps: I agree! Isn't it fun to open up a big map while you're driving, in hopes of figuring out where you are? Don't you miss the old days before cars came equipped with GPS and no one ever used that bastard, MapQuest?

CDs: F*cking internet. That's the problem. Instant access to information and entertainment for the whole world. You guys want to talk about pirating and illegal downloads?

(everyone shouts out a collective no!)

Moderator: We all read on JA Konrath's blog that the way to fight piracy is with cost and convenience. Print Industry, are you lowering your prices and making it easier for customers to download your books?

Print Industry: Actually, we just raised prices on our ebooks.

(collective sighs and head shaking)

Moderator: Well, far be it for you to learn from any of our mistakes. Are you making it easier at least?

Print Industry: Well, we've begun windowing titles, releasing them months after the hardcover comes out.

(collective head slapping)

Music Industry: Have you at least tried selling from your own site? I wish I'd done that. But that upstart Apple came along...

Print Industry: Uh... no. We haven't tried that. In fact, some ebooks--we'll use JA Konrath as an example since he was mentioned--aren't even available on all platforms and in all territories.

Moderator: What do you mean? Konrath's ebooks are available all over the place.

Print Industry: Those are the ones he uploads himself. The ones of his that we sell are missing from several key markets, and have been for years. But it's okay. We're paying him much smaller royalties and jacking the prices up high so we can still make a profit. Besides, ebooks are a niche market. Ereading devices are dedicated and expensive.

Arcades: I used to be a thriving industry. Kids spent billions of quarters in my thousands of locations. But then Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft made home arcade machines, and now people play their videogames on dedicated devices. It's a multi-billion dollar business now, and I can only compete if I sell shitty pizza and give out plastic trinkets to kids with the most foosball tickets. If people want the media, they buy the expensive device. Period.

Print Industry: None of you are listening to me. Print will always be around.

Newspaper Industry: Yeah! What he said!

Print Industry: Let's not compare ourselves, okay Newspaper Industry? No offense.

Newspaper Industry: None taken. Hey, maybe we can help each other. I'm selling advertising space for dirt cheap these days, and...

Print Industry: No thanks. No one reads you anymore. People get their news elsewhere.

Moderator: So why won't people get their novels elsewhere as well?

(Print Industry stands up, pointing a finger around the room.)

Print Industry: Look, this isn't about me. All of you guys have become irrelevant. Technology marched on, and you didn't march with it. But that WILL NOT happen to me. There will always be bookstores, and dead tree books. We'll continue to sell hardcovers at luxury prices, and pay artists 6% to 15% royalties on whatever list price WE deem appropriate. And the masses will buy our books BECAUSE WE SAID SO! WE SHALL NEVER BECOME OBSOLETE!!!

Buggy Whip Industry: Amen, brother! That's what I keep trying to tell these people!

CDs: (whispering to LPs) I give him six years, tops.

-------------

Joe sez: I wrote the above three years ago. So what has changed since then?

Every video rental store in my area has disappeared. Blockbuster Video filed for bankruptcy and now has 500 stores left in the US. They once had 9000.

Kodak filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. In 2010, you could still buy 35mm film everywhere. Now you can't.

One of the two major bookstore chains, Borders, has closed.

The last commercially produced typewriter was donated to a museum.

The US has almost entirely switched to digital TV.

Roku supported Netflix streaming video. Now Netflix comes preinstalled on new TVs, Blu Ray players, Wiis, Xboxs, Playstations, 3DS, Vistas, WD Live, and Apple TV. It can be installed on the iPad, Kindle Fire, and Nook. Amazon also streams video, free to Prime members.

Since getting my rights back, my income from those titles has gone up over 1000%.

The print industry still hasn't raised author royalties. They faced a DOJ lawsuit for price fixing, allegedly keeping ebook prices high, and have settled. Paper sales continue to decline, while ebook sales continue to rise.

The buggy whip industry still hasn't recovered.

112 comments:

Ed Renehan said...

F'ing great. Love it.

Scraps said...

I love my ereader and my ebooks, I love being able to store all sorts of info in a slim little slice of a computer on my desk. But I also know that as long as there exists the possibility of prolonged power outages and 'net downtime, there's still a market for some things in paper.

Enjoyment reading? May not so much. Reference materials? Yeah, definitely.

And I don't say this just because I work in the printing industry (by the way, print is more than just the publishing industry), but more because I realized just how far up that proverbial creek so many would be if something catastrophic did happen and we had to survive without all these wonderful tools and toys we've become so dependent on. You know, as I was reading Anne of Green Gables on my Kindle.

evilphilip said...

There are still a massive amount of authors living in the dream world where money & fame are right around the corner with some 6-figure+ deal from print publishers.

They hold onto that dream the way Scrooge McDuck holds onto money (or Mr. Crabs for those of you born yesterday).

They can't move past the idea that you can make tons more money on your own. Authors I know who are chasing the print dream are still telling me that self-published books only sell a few dozen copies -- and when I point out my sales figures and/or the amount of money I'm making (often 5x per year what some publishers offer as an advance) they say that I that one in a million who has caught lightning in a bottle and I'm the exception.

I'm not an exception. I don't even sell that much. I'm never in the Top 100 overall on the Kindle and I still make about 5x per book what publishers like Angry Robot give as an advance.

You can lead that horse to water, but you can't make him think.

kimberlyabettes said...

Brilliant post, Joe (as always)!

Carl Grimsman said...

That is just plain hilarious. And totally true. God I love the truth.

That said, it does seem print books will hold on for while, and even as more than just a niche market. People like the feel of paper and the feeling of ownership that dead trees provide. I know I do. Books I want to read and forget are fine "rented" from the e-providers. Books I want to cherish and re-read and use for reference, and pass on to others when I croak, well, those I'll probably still purchase in physical form, so long as they are available.

Thanks, Joe, for all your insights and entertainment. Damn fine post and blog in general.

TK Kenyon said...


I love your personification vignettes, Joe. So funny!

If you need to add characters, I might recommend Whale Lamp Oil Industry.

TK Kenyon

Jude Hardin said...

I was curious about my comments from three years ago, so I scrolled through the 2010 archives until I found the original post.

Here's what I said back then:

Funny!

Of course, so is the story of Chicken Little. ;)

I would like to have a Kindle, and I probably will buy one eventually.

But I probably won't take it to the beach, like I did my print book today, where it's likely to get sand and suntan lotion all over it and where its delicate little microchips will be exposed to blistering heat all day; I probably won't put it in my backpack and take it to work to read during lunch, for fear that it might get stolen; I probably won't relax in the tub with it, for fear it might get wet (and I'm NOT reading through a friggin' Ziploc bag!); I probably won't...

I think you get the picture.

Unlike all the other media you mentioned, there are actually advantages to ink on paper. Printed books will live on beside their electronic counterparts in perpetuity, IMO.


Was I wrong?

Let me just put it this way: I received a Kindle for Christmas that year, and I haven't bought more than a handful of paper books since.

Glenn Dixon said...

The print *industry* may be around for awhile yet, but not in its present form. Lots of layoffs and mergers in the future before finally settling down into their eventual niche remnants.

Gavin Bell said...

I can't think of anything more depressing than a world where paper books are entirely replaced by self-published eBooks... Jesus. Yeah, so downloads have decimated CD sales, but that's because listening to an album on an mp3 player is exactly the same experience as listening to it on a Discman, with added convenience. A Kindle is convenient, and remarkably usable, but it will never give you the exact same experience as reading a physical book.

Chihuahua Zero said...

I must admit, this really made me laugh out loud due to the ringing accuracy of it all.

M. R. Mathias said...

That was frakkin' awesome. Thanks for the laugh.

Joe Konrath said...

but it will never give you the exact same experience as reading a physical book.

I agree. The Kindle experience is so much better.

Since uploading my backlist, I've had some folks tell me there are some formatting errors. So my gracious wife is re-reading the Jack Daniels series on paper, earmarking the errors.

She hates it. The kindle is just so much easier to hold, to use, to find your place. Backlit and font size adjustable so no need for reading glasses.

I just was rereading my dog-eared copy of On Writing by Stephen King. Got through the first chapter, then rebought it on Kindle because the hardcover was too big and bulky.

Paper will never go away. But it will, for most purposes, be replaced.

Anonymous said...

@Gavin Bell - in many ways an ebook reader gives a better experience than a traditional book; especially if the book is heavy to hold or has very small print.

Mark Chapman

Mark P. Kolba said...

While e-books have certainly exploded onto the scene and captured a sizeable market share (something around 30% last I heard), the initial growth has shown signs of leveling off. While big changes may well be in store twenty years down the road (think about what computers were like 20 years ago . . . egads!), I'm not so sure that there will be all that much change over the next six years. I certainly don't think the publishing industry will be folding, and I think print books will continue to have at least a majority of all trade sales for quite some time. It's entirely possible I'll need to eat these words (it wouldn't be the first time), but that's how I see things going right now.

Daniel said...

Changing the subject a bit, but Joe is always telling us to keep writing, that hard work can lead to good luck, to get as many fantastic books as you can out there. Joe has over 50 titles now. More power to him. This Salon article shows how having a book near the top for a short time (#6 for a week or two) is nice and ego-inflating, but it usually won't buy you that island in the Caribbean. It might get you a few weeks at the beach though.

http://www.salon.com/2013/03/15/hey_amazon_wheres_my_money/?goback=.gde_1725677_member_223992841

So let me get back to my writing.

Daniel Berenson
Freaky Dude Books

Karen Woodward said...

An especially excellent post! Gave me a chuckle.

Sven Slootweg said...

Gavin Bell: vinyl fans would probably like to disagree with you.

The reality is that there's only a small group of people that reads books for the "book experience" (similar to the vinyl niche), whereas the majority of people uses them as a tool to convey information or culture. To them, the format is not terribly relevant, as long as it's usable.

JasonZavoda said...


About the 'Book experience'. I paid $1 (at a $1 store for a Phillips Ereader cover in what I'm guessing is Faux leather. It looks and feels startling similar to some of the small 18th and 19th century books I have on my shelf. It has a small elastic strap across the back that I can fit my hand through, and the 'Reading Experience' is incredible. I can read from my complete works of Shakespeare or a eMagazine with equal comfort and ease.

The 'Book Experience' has too often meant cramped hands or fingers, unwieldy books, bad bindings, impossible to read paperbacks without breaking the spine so they will open flat, etc... Try reading a 700 page paperback that doesn't turn into an accordion or have the pages fall out...

No, kindle and other eReaders are here, and the printed book is a sign of the past.

Rob Cornell said...

Print isn't dead, but the print *industry* is changing for sure.

Children's books or textbooks heavy with illustrations and graphs still work better in print. And children's books aren't as ephemeral as popular novels. Not only do you read them over and over again, there is a sentimental attachment to the better ones.

That said, I sure wish I could have read Stephen King's UNDER THE DOME in ebook format, because that huge mother f-ing trade paperback was a pain in the wrists. But I got it for an Xmas gift. And now that I think about it, gifting is another area where print is superior. It's just no fun unwrapping a digital file. :)

Also, any thoughts on POD technology? I think that could keep print going a while longer, as it eliminates a lot of costs and overhead trad publishers still seem to want to pay.

Walter Knight said...

Copper wire thieves: Thankfully they haven't replaced electricity, yet.

J.H.M. said...

Pardon me if I sound rude, but I get the distinct feeling that you are unfamiliar with the vinyl renaissance in independent music and its continuing popularity in the field of electronica. I also sense that you are deliberately avoiding the topic of small press publishing for the purposes of simplicity or polemic—I am not sure exactly which. Either way, as a supporter of all of the above, I feel that you have misrepresented these industries and it annoys me quite a bit.

Joe Konrath said...

I get the distinct feeling that you are unfamiliar with the vinyl renaissance in independent music and its continuing popularity in the field of electronica

That's niche, not mainstream. Vinyl is in no position to replace digital. The fact that it still exists is quaint, and it's nice to see current artists issuing new vinyl (which they do with the digital files included in the purchase price). I predicted back in 2007 that ebooks would be bundled with print. We still haven't seen that with regularity, but some publishers are experimenting with it.

The point of the skit was (and still is) that new tech phases out old tech.

I use createspace for paper versions of my novels, and since 2009 have made over $40k selling print. Vs. over a million selling ebooks. Pretty obvious which is outselling which.

I feel that you have misrepresented these industries and it annoys me quite a bit.

Then, by all means, instead of using the Internet to state this, perhaps you should tell me and the whole world via telegraph.

Joe Konrath said...

Children's books or textbooks heavy with illustrations and graphs still work better in print.

Watch a small child play with an iPad or Kindle Fire. Illustrations work fine with tablets, and kids love them.

And graphs can be manipulated with digital. Tap the screen and bring up multiple ways to interpret the same data.

As for sentiment, the story is in our heads, not on the page. Search my blog for "destination value."

As for POD, I use it to publish. But I don't buy it. I haven't bought a paper book in a long time, as opposed to hundreds of digital books. If I could get all of the my paper books converted to digital, I'd get rid of them all. I also Comic Zeal to read my old Famous Monsters and Fangorias. Pinch and zoom works great with pdf files of picture-rich mags, and I don't miss the mildew smell.

Bruce from Accordion Noir said...

Can I be the first to give Cassette Tapes a high five? High Five!

Joe Konrath said...

Can I be the first to give Cassette Tapes a high five? High Five!

Sorry. Too late. Cassette tapes were dropped off at the local thrift shop, who stated they don't sell, so they went into the recycle bin.

But you can high five paper books. For the moment.

Rob Cornell said...

Watch a small child play with an iPad or Kindle Fire. Illustrations work fine with tablets, and kids love them.

Yeah, my kids dig the tablet. But the lurv their print books a lot, too.

Now, their kids will probably visit the print books in the museum.

I don't disagree that ebooks will replace print eventually. But I don't think the timeline on that is as short as you suggest. It's a little early to send DTBs to OA meetings.

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

Fabulous. Went back and looked at the 2010 responses (thanks Jude) and saw some great comments. Someone pointed out that ebooks were only 6% of the market... THEN.

It's not a pbook/ebook dichotomy. I read both, but there are so many advantages to e, for me.

As to those who say you can't make a living as a self-publisher -- I uploaded a new 99¢ short yesterday and am selling 100 a day. Already. At that rate, four such stories, plus the ebook that puts them all together, will make a reasonable living.

Thanks for what you do, Joe.

Jude Hardin said...

I also sense that you are deliberately avoiding the topic of small press publishing for the purposes of simplicity or polemic—I am not sure exactly which.

Are there still small presses that don't publish ebooks? If there are, they would be wise to get with the program. Otherwise, they won't be small anymore. They'll be gone.

Phyllis Humphrey said...

Brother still makes typewriters. I just got one for Christmas. Because sometimes I need to write something that can't be done on my computer. I also read print books along with others on my three e-readers.

Jill James said...

Can't believe you wrote that 3 years ago. Awesome. Although I do miss real film for the camera.

Jonas Saul said...

The Laser Disc sat quietly and listened, trying to blind the CD with its golden luster.

When the meeting ended, the Laser Disc rolled out the door before anyone saw him and bumped into the top-loading Beta machine.

The gig was up and he had to admit to himself that there was a problem. A really big problem. One of their friends was supposed to show at the meeting but couldn't make it. The black and white television with thirteen channels was never seen again.

Also, there wasn't enough beer for everyone. Konrath had drank it all.

But Saul was bringing some with him … and the party continues ...

B. David Hughes said...

Great prognostication, Joe!

And I can't be the only person that now wants a t-shirt that says "No one gave cassette tapes a high-five."

Joe Konrath said...

Brother still makes typewriters.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2235846/Oh-Brother-Last-typewriter-Britain-comes-production-line-companys-factory-million.html

Jude Hardin said...

From the article on Brother:

The company said that it still had significant sales in the U.S. - where government departments and some offices still use them - but Brother's factory in the Far East produces enough typewriters to serve this market.

So they're still in production, just not in Britain.

Desmond X Torres said...

And that was an 'electric' typewriter. Not an Andy Rooney 'real' typewriter y'know.

Joe Konrath said...

So they're still in production, just not in Britain.

Ah. Bad research on my part.

There was also an Indian company that ceased production, and accompanying press.

J.H.M. said...

Then, by all means, instead of using the Internet to state this, perhaps you should tell me and the whole world via telegraph.

You really don't seem to get where I'm coming from here. I'm not saying that vinyl should replace digital, nor that it should, but that it is not truly obsolete—it has been replaced as the primary mode of conveying its medium, not totally eliminated by superior competition. The Betamax and the 8-track are obsolete, as are the Gutenberg press and the buttonhook. Vinyl is not. "Small-scale" does not equate to "irrelevant." As a self-publisher, you should know that.

But that's not really my point here, or even my issue with the article. It's that you're painting in incredibly broad strokes without acknowledging that people who disagree with you either have a point or have a right to feel that way. Again, the devil is in the details.

J.H.M. said...

P.S. If you really want "niche," cassette culture is still a thing among noise and DIY enthusiasts, as strange as that sounds. It makes sense: Cassette has a very particular sound to it that works well with some music. But still, it's an odd thing.

Joe Konrath said...

It's that you're painting in incredibly broad strokes

It's satire, my friend. That tends to be broad.

If you'd like to discuss minutiae, I'm fine with that. But the point of the piece was to show that clinging to outdated tech is silly.

A niche market doesn't stop technology from moving forward and taking industries with it. Vinyl doesn't need to be obliterated by digital. Neither do paper books. But once the scale tips to favor a new tech, it doesn't tip back.

I'm not arguing that vinyl is irrelevant, only that it is obsolete. And for mainstream music listeners--the vast majority--it is. Vinyl records once supported a vast industry. It no longer does that. Digital has replaced it. The amount of vinyl being sold pales compared to the digital music being sold on iTunes.

have a right to feel that way.


You have a right to feel however you want to feel. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and all opinions are valid. How am I preventing that right?

the devil is in the details.

Sometimes. If those details invalidate the main point.In this case, the main point is that history shows us industry misses out on tech revolutions. Having a niche market of vinyl in no way invalidates my point. Neither does the fact that Brother still makes typewriters in the US. I got that detail wrong, but it doesn't mean my conclusions are.

I'll revisit this again in three years, see how the big publishers are doing. My advice: don't buy stock in publishing.

Jude Hardin said...

I got that detail wrong, but it doesn't mean my conclusions are.

You got the pledge pin thing wrong too, Joe. Let's face it. You've lost a step.

Joe Konrath said...

It was a Twisted Sister pin on his uniform. I'm sure of it.

Jude Hardin said...

Toga! Toga!

Hehe. Nobody has any idea what we're talking about.

Christopher Wills said...

Joe I want to make a complaint about your blog. We have discovered a rich vein of gold in these here hills and you are going back east and telling everybody the gold is here. If those would be writers who dream of getting a big six deal come to our gold field some of them might be good writers able to mine lots of gold which will leave less for us. If they want to stay in La La land and dream about something that will never happen, I say let them. So come on Joe, return to the hills and lets keep quiet about this vein until we have milked it for all its worth :)

Robert Brumm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
martinlakewriting said...

Loved this, made me laugh aloud. I think of the 15th century writer who kept taking his book to the local monastery and had to leave empty-handed because they refused to copy it. In high dudgeon he was forced to go down the road and ask Mr Caxton to print it. 'It's not as good as the real thing,' the monks said. 'Nobody will value something which can be produced in hours instead of months.'
'But readers are buying my books in their thousands,' the writer said.
The monks looked amused. 'Readers! What do they know about books?'

Robert Brumm said...

Great article, I enjoyed reading it very much. I know in my little world, print versions of my books are in the single digits every month and there are plenty of months when I don't sell a single one while their ebook siblings are selling quite well.

Paper books will be in libraries and used bookstores and that's about it. When? Sooner than you think.

I think we'll always buy paper books but it will be strictly POD. Big companies like Amazon will get the experience as close to ebook as possible: customer clicks buy and the book is printed on demand and shipped that day overnight for as cheaply as possible. Perhaps Redbox-type print on demand kiosks at stores.

Either way, mass printing of books shipped all over the world to stores will no longer exist.

Merrill Heath said...

I do see the day when printed books become a niche market, much like vinyl records. Just look at the kids of today who do virtually everything on their phones. It won't happen overnight, but I would not be surprised if printed books are a small percentage of the market in 10-15 years.

Carl said...

To show how quickly times change, those Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft consoles need to be at this meeting with the arcade. They are quickly being eclipsed by people playing games on their smartphones and tablets, and the console market isn't doing a very good job adapting. Just take a look at the reviews of the Nintendo Wii U.

Rob Cornell said...

Just take a look at the reviews of the Nintendo Wii U.

Comparing the latest Nintendo products, like the Wii, to Playstation and XBox is crazy talk. Nintendo's been in trouble for a long time because they don't know how to make something people actually want to play.

Until you can make a phone with the same processing power as a game console (which will be a while, as the consoles always get replaced with new, more powerful models) I don't think they have to worry about people playing Angry Birds instead of Gears of War.

Joe Konrath said...

If they want to stay in La La land and dream about something that will never happen, I say let them.

While I appreciate the tongue in cheek, I'm going to answer seriously anyway.

This isn't a zero sum game, or a gold rush (gold runs out, this won't), and while I'm okay with letting the willfully ignorant remain so, those actively seeking information should have access to it.

There was no blog like mine when I was learning this stuff. If there had been, it would have been a lot easier for me.

Regina Richards said...

Love it!

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Buggy whips are still being made! Many tack shops and horse supply stores carry them! How dare you insult buggy whips, Joe!

How many of you who are talking about the niche market for vinyl and niche market for typewriters find my buggy whip outrage silly?

BTW, if you're in the market for a buggy whip, you can find one here. http://www.bigdweb.com/BUGGY-WHIP-50-INCH-WITH-18INCH-DROP/productinfo/65-5100/

Joe Konrath said...

$11.95 for a buggy whip?

I'll wait for the digital version, for $2.99.

Rob Cornell said...

Hey, Ann? What happens when vacuum wands become obsolete? That will be a sad day. ;)

(I will always remember The Wand.)

Jude Hardin said...

Hehe. Nobody has any idea what we're talking about.

"That's right," I said to myself. "Stay on topic, Jude!"

But when you think about it, some parallels can be drawn between John Belushi and the publishing industry.

John Belushi died from a life of excess and bad choices...

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Dirt would have to become obsolete first.

The Wand still misses you, Rob.

Adrian said...

Since someone mentioned typewriters and Andy Rooney:

"Actually, I've written on a lot of computers. I had one typewriter for 50 years, but I've bought seven computers in six years. I suppose that's why Bill Gates is rich and Underwood is out of business." —Andy Rooney

David L. Shutter said...

"There was no blog like mine when I was learning this stuff."

I haven't read back much past the point where you stopped advocating for making your publisher money so they'd buy your next book, but just out of curiousity I went to the begining of your blog.

From May 2005: seems someone was just a wee bit ahead of the trend.

The e-book is a technothriller that I wrote pre-Jack Daniels series. It's available in a few different formats, and yours for the reasonable price of zero dollars.

Is this a dumb idea, giving away a free book? I dunno. Might be. We'll see what the future holds...


Funny.

Tara McTiernan said...

I just laughed out loud for the first time in too long of a time! Thanks, Joe - perfect way to prove your point...

Rob Cornell said...

The e-book is a technothriller that I wrote pre-Jack Daniels series. It's available in a few different formats, and yours for the reasonable price of zero dollars.

Is this a dumb idea, giving away a free book? I dunno. Might be. We'll see what the future holds...


And this is why, now, we all wish we were Joe. :)

Joe Konrath said...

Here's one I did in 2007 that's eerily prescient.

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2007/01/my-speech-at-google.html

I was speaking to a group of publishers. Here's an intriguing bit:

An entire generation is learning how to read by using computers. More and more people are getting their information and entertainment on the web. And they aren’t being passive about it--they're seeking it out.

On the subway today, I counted 7 people with PDAs, Blackberrys, and Palms, and two more with mp3 players. People need their media so much they're taking it with them when they leave their desks. Only three people on that train were reading newspapers. What does that say about the future of print media?

People read online all the time. It's up to the publishers to teach them how to read books online.

There's no reason why books can't be packaged with a CD. It could contain various downloadable text AND audio formats, so people can read it on their PDA or listen to it on their mp3 player...

Do you want people to embrace ebooks? (You should--no shipping, no returns, no printing, no distributor, no waste, higher profit margin.) Then package 20 Stephen King books on a Sandisk card for $40. Steve gets the 60 cent per book royalty he would have gotten from a paperback sale, and the buyer changes his reading habits.


Of course, it wasn't publishers who taught people how to read digitally. It was Amazon, who released the Kindle ten months later.

Wickergirl said...

If Joe is right and progress and obsolescence is inevitable, then why stop at print books?

What will happen to authors? I've been amused to see some indie authors argue that some kind of filter will need to reinstated if good books are to be noticed. Anyone can write and publish a book at the moment and the market is flooded, making it difficult for 'good' authors (a self-proclaimed term no doubt) to get noticed and make a living. After all they are competing with writers who can churn out words at a rate of 10,000 a day. They can write, and now publish, half a dozen books in the time it used to take an author to produce just one.

That's tough.

But maybe technology has the answer. If the quality of a book is no longer an issue (it is a moot point anyway) then why not employ a computer to write fiction?

Most popular fiction is formulaic. Detective with alcohol issues, solves crime of the day with the assistance of a good woman etc.

Luckily for the publishing industry help is on hand. Computers are now being used to replace journalists, especially when it comes to writing data heavy pieces.

How long will it be before these same computers can learn to write a detective story or a piece of chick lit? Not long if Joe is to be believed.

You can read about the computer/journalist story here:


RoboReporter

Wickergirl

wickergirl

Jude Hardin said...

If the quality of a book is no longer an issue (it is a moot point anyway) then why not employ a computer to write fiction?

Your argument depends on quality not being important, but that's just not the case. For the most part, the cream rises to the top, and the crap sinks to oblivion. That's the way it has always been, and that's the way it always will be.

Julie Kramer said...

As the owner of a VHS collection of 28 animated Disney movies including LITTLE MERMAID, LION KING, DAVY CROCKET as well as VHS episodes of the TV cartoon JOHNNY QUEST...all stacked in a corner in my basement...this made me laugh three years ago and again today because I can't bear to throw them out, but I don't want to keep them.

Merrill Heath said...

Johnny Quest is awesome.

Wickergirl said...

Hi Jude

"Your argument depends on quality not being important, but that's just not the case. For the most part, the cream rises to the top, and the crap sinks to oblivion."

Your caveat "for the most part" is important. There are many aspects to a book that can make it popular. 50 Shades of Grey is an interesting example.

Books promoted on television or adaptations of series and movies also do well. And it's not worthwhile judging the literary merits of the latest diet, health or therapy book.

Looking at the current bestseller list at Amazon it's not impossible to imagine that, one day, well programmed software could turn out facsimiles of many of them.

wickergirl

Rob Cornell said...

Looking at the current bestseller list at Amazon it's not impossible to imagine that, one day, well programmed software could turn out facsimiles of many of them.

Just as we waste energy mourning the loss of one technology to ever increasing advancement, we can't fret over technology that might, but does not, exist.

I think Joe's point in all of this is to live in the now. And right now, it's a pretty damn good time to be a writer.

Business Venture Center said...

Love Obsolete Anonymous. I do write ebooks, have just started the journey and am working at it. I agree, it is luck but the more you work the luckier you get, thank you

judyhaar said...

loved Obsolete Anonymous, I recently have entered the ebook self publishing group. I am working hard at it but having fun.

Joe Konrath said...

As the owner of a VHS collection of 28 animated Disney movie

Hi, Susan!

(I know people call you Susan all the time because of your first book. :P)

I had about $5k in VHS, including every Disney Classic.

Then I got a 60" hi-def flatscreeen, and VHS looked awful. So I bought everything again in DVD.

Now Blu-ray is reigning. But I'll be honest--I don't see the big dif between DVD and Blu-ray. Perhaps because, after lasix, everything only gets so clear.

So I buy in Blu-ray as things are released, but don't upgrade my older DVDs unless they aren't anamorphic or 5.1.

Point being: get rid of the media you no longer use.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Gavin Bell said, A Kindle is convenient, and remarkably usable, but it will never give you the exact same experience as reading a physical book.

You're absolutely right, but why does it have to give the exact same experience? It doesn't.

I never thought I'd grow indifferent to paper books, but I have. I love the convenience of my Kindle and my Nexus 7. And I don't miss physical books at all.

All that matters to me is the content.

Joe Konrath said...

Your caveat "for the most part" is important.

So important that I disagree.

Sometimes cream rises to the top.

But what sells is what is visible. Sometimes quality can make something visible. Sometimes quality needs a boost.

I await the day when computers AI can make people laugh. That will be the turning point. Not regurgitating old jokes, but understanding humor enough to invent jokes, consistently.

In fact, let's call that Konrath's Law.

"True IA is the ability for a computer to consistently understand humor and be able to make people laugh. To hell with self-awareness. We need a program that understands the human sense of humor."

Joe Konrath said...

All that matters to me is the content.

Agreed. For a decade I've said the story isn't on the page or screen. It's the movie that plays in your head.

I'm waiting for the Book Pill. Swallow it, and the story plays out in your mind.

Every mind-altering substance I've tried (and I've tried lots of them) depends on my own imagination.

I want a mind-altering substance that makes me experience someone else's imagination.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Joe said, "But I'll be honest--I don't see the big dif between DVD and Blu-ray."

With up converting DVD players being the norm, I don't see much difference either. But I don't use DVDs much anymore. I've ripped my entire collection to a hard drive and I do in-home streaming with PLEX and a ROKU to watch my movies.

They look terrific.

David L. Shutter said...

"Looking at the current bestseller list at Amazon it's not impossible to imagine that, one day, well programmed software could turn out facsimiles of many of them."

Human beings, who understand love, hate, sexuality and humor, already are. En-masse, in many cases.

But look at the actual profit from even the highest selling books, versus say, the profits for a single year from a Microsoft or an Oracle. And then using actual, honest to god AI for novel writing (instead of other application) seems kind of redundant from the business standpoint.

Maybe even a little bit silly.

Jude Hardin said...

Looking at the current bestseller list at Amazon it's not impossible to imagine that, one day, well programmed software could turn out facsimiles of many of them.

Joe made a good point about humor. And there are so many other facets to the human mind, all working in concert with each other to create something as emotionally complex as a novel, that I don't believe a computer could ever come close to replicating that experience for the reader. A computer will never have a "voice," IMO. Computers won't write novels; they'll write novelties.

And that'll be great. Then I can advertise my work as 100% HUMAN and charge twice as much. :)

Jude Hardin said...

But what sells is what is visible.

You have to be visible, but you also have to have a book that people want to read. I disagree with your dog theory, that people will indiscriminately devour whatever you put in front of them. If that was the case, then every new TV show would be a big hit.

Everyone who was alive in 1983 remembers a show called Manimal because of all the promo it got. Unfortunately, the show only lasted for seven episodes after the pilot, because it was stupid and nobody watched it.

Crap isn't going to sell, no matter how visible it is. Not consistently, anyway.

Frank Sergeant said...

> Since uploading my backlist, I've had some folks tell me there are some formatting errors. So my gracious wife is re-reading the Jack Daniels series on paper, earmarking the errors.

> She hates it. The kindle is just so much easier to hold, to use, to find your place. Backlit and font size adjustable so no need for reading glasses.

Joe, why can't she proofread the books on a Kindle?

I've taken to doing all my proofreading (books on mobi and EPUB formatting), plus the novel my girlfriend is working on, on a Kindle and I love doing it that way. I prefer the Kindle Keyboard for this because it is so easy to add a highlight.

My girlfriend and I trade off proofreading each other's books. For some reason she prefers the Kindle Fire for this although she will sometimes proof the html version in a web browser.

So, wouldn't something like that work for your wife?

Frank

Heather Justesen said...

Hey, I still use an antenna at my home (and Netflix, of course.)

And certain reference manuals are nicer in paper, but I haven't bought anything else in paper unless I had no choice since I got my Kindle, and I've rebought some of my paper books in ebook form recently because I like the convenience so much more. My BIL has dumped about 12 boxes of paper books on friends and libraries since he got his first Kindle, and his wife couldn't be happier.

P.S. Power said...

The one thing that we can all be relatively certain of is that things will change.

In ten years, or twenty, or fifty, computers will be more than capable of writing books. Eventually they will be as good, or better, than what humans can do. that's the nature of the world to come. Most likely at any rate.

For now we have a window in which we can be the creators. We can build worlds and let others join us there. It's a worthy enough goal, even if we end up with it not being what we do for the rest of our lives.

As for everyone being able to write a book or two and put it out there...

You know what? Fine. Competition is healthy and will cause us to all get better. That or sit one the bottom half of the lists where no one will ever see us.

The people complaining about how hard it is to be seen now are kind of humerus. Like people that claim that a book written by a good author quickly isn't still a good book. It isn't backed up by the evidence, but people persist in making that kind of claim, to justify their poor work habits. (Or busy lives and distractions. You know, family, friends and all those things that get in the way of production.) :)

A cry of "too many books!" is weak. An effort to control others without having to work for it.

Case in point: Look at the top thousand books right now and compare them to the same from a year ago. Two. Ten...

Do you really think you'll notice a difference in quality? In creativity, true, since that has grown nicely after the publishers had a little less say, but quality? There isn't a vast difference at that level.

And all of that is picked by the reader. Good books will float to the top.

Maggie Dana said...

Joe ... I sent this post to my son and he fired back with:

Friggin' hilarious ...

To play devils advocate - there is a metric used to determine how long something will last. Paradoxically the method is this: it will last proportionately to how long it has already been around. Notice that the oldest audio format (vinyl records) is the (out dated) tech to last the longest. Of all the seven wonders of the ancient world the only one still around (pyramids of Giza) were the oldest at the time (the hanging gardens etc are all long since gone). This metric implies that print books, while clearly no longer dominant, will still linger on for quite some time.

Geraldine Evans said...

Terrific article, Joe. You really brought it home to me just HOW many things we all used to use have passed on by.

I didn't even know that some of them have gone (I don't get out much :-( ).

If the print industry, which is supposed to be staffed by very smart people (!) can't read the writing on the wall and adapt to technology, they're in danger of going the way of all those technologies you menioned. Hope it doesn't happen. I like amazon to have as much competition as possible in this race. Even when the competition refuses to stop binding its ankles together.

Thanks for all your super posts over the years. It was because of those and the murdermustadvertise site that I started to go the ebook route. I've now got twelve of my backlist epublished (thirteen if you count the one my ex-publisher epublished at over twice the price of most of mine), with a number more still to do.

I'm actually now a full-time writer with a decent income: something I never had while I was on the traditional treadmill.

More power to your elbow!

Jude Hardin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jude Hardin said...

"CEO Terry Finley said BAM's core book business stabilized during the year and that trend has continued into the new year, noting that sales of physical books exceeded the company's expectations. He attributed the better-than-expected fourth quarter to slowing sales of digital devices and digital content. Excluding digital devices, BAM's fourth quarter comp sales fell only 4.2%."

Interesting.

But then they implied that The Hunger Games and 50 Shades of Grey pretty much carried them.

Still, it might be way too early to start counting paper out.

Julie Kramer said...

Hi Joe,
Most of the VHS I have gotten rid of, and have replaced with DVDs, but it's hard to let them all go. Deep down I wonder if these VHS copies might some day be interesting antiques to show great grandchildren. Perhaps this makes me a hoarder.
Susan :)

Ann Voss Peterson said...

"True IA is the ability for a computer to consistently understand humor and be able to make people laugh. To hell with self-awareness. We need a program that understands the human sense of humor."

I would widen this to include emotion in general.

Fiction is a vehicle for humans to experience emotion vicariously. That's the main purpose of fiction. When computers can not only understand but evoke emotion in humans, only THEN they will be starting on the road to writing novels.

Wickergirl said...

George Orwell predicted that people would read fiction generated by machines in his book 1984.

As for emotion, there has already been an art project in which a computer generated love letters.

You can read more about both on the BBC website.

Can Robots Really Write Novels?

The more a genre conforms to a formula the easier it is for a machine to write fiction, at least according to one expert.

It would be an interesting experiment to do, submit a machine written book to Amazon. A sort of Turing Test for novelists.

wickergirl

Virginia Llorca said...

"I'm NOT reading through a plastic bag." = "Reading on my cell phone is anathema to me."

And those expensive dedicated reader devices can be had now for the price of 3 bound best sellers.

But I did just buy a trade paperback Edith Wharton Trilogy because it seemed appropriate and it was pretty. Hate having to use a piece of paper to mark my place.

Michael Ardenne said...

Hilarious!

And so true. There is still a large Barnes and Noble store where I live, and it seems to be doing OK - but the shelf space devoted to books is dwindling while that devoted to baked goods, clothing, and various novelty items is steadily increasing. Only a matter of time, I suppose.

Tracy Sharp said...

Reading Babe on Board. I actually had to put my kindle down because I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe, let alone read. And that was just the first few pages!!

David Hudnut said...

Nobody has mentioned the secondary market. I have a Kindle. I love it. I buy almost exclusively self-pubbed authors on it.

But when it comes to big name, big 6 authors, I get down on my hands and knees and thank Gutenberg himself for the fact I can buy great books at used bookstores or thrift stores for cheap. Heck, I can order just about any random, obscure title on Amazon, usually for 1 cent and the cost of shipping and handling.

If the Big 6 lower the price on back catalog books to 99 cents, then the secondary market might dry up. I think of Roger Ebert saying in the 1980s "Movie studios should sell all films for $9.99 on VHS." This was when most movies cost $90.00 a copy and only video rental stores bought them.

But then I remember all those old books that are readily available for 1 cent that have too small a market for any publisher to bother converting to eformat, or the copyright holders are nowhere to be found to authorize an e format.

I love print, I love e. Price matters.

Judith Boyer said...

Buggy whips are still being made! Many tack shops and horse supply stores carry them! How dare you insult buggy whips, Joe!



I have this great buggy whip app on my iPhone. Bet I could even use it to spur on real horses. Assuming, of course that I had a real horse. Or a buggy, for that matter.


A year and a half ago I scoffed at the idea of ever getting an ereader. Then I my partner moved in with me and I realized I needed to clear out a lot of the book collection I had. I thought hey, I'll get an ereader and keep my collection on there! Since getting my Kindle, I've bought exactly 1 physical book. I've bought over 25 eBooks. And they're mostly ones I've never read before. The option to carry literally hundreds of books around with me in my purse trumps any of that 'real book' reading experience. I'd never go back now, unless it was for a collectible.

My CD's are also in a box in the garage. *listens to iPhone*

Anonymous said...

Let me just throw a few facts into the ring...

The CD is a long way from dead as a format. Despite the digital downloads market having reached maturity some time ago, the majority of album sales in the US are still in physical format. And by a wide margin - 63% physical vs 37% download for 2012. That's a 4% shift towards download from 2011, but physical formats are far from dead. The demise of the chain record store has more to do with online sales of CDs by the likes of Amazon than downloads from iTunes.

These are all Nielson figures, by the way. They don't factor in single sales - downloads take a greater share - but the CD single was in decline long before iTunes was ever conceived of.

It is correct to call vinyl a specialty item, a niche, but when that niche has US unit sales of 4.6M and growing, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it. There's enough money there to support an industry all of its own, from hardware manufacturers to independent record stores.

When you shift your gaze outside of the US to markets like the UK and continental Europe, the physical formats look even healthier.

For me as an author, the vast majority of my sales are still in paper. The proportion of ebooks to paper books has never risen above 20%, even in the US. In the UK, my primary market, the percentage is lower.

To be specific, I just got the first eight weeks' sales figures for my newest paperback. Ebooks around 10%, everything else paper. My biggest sellers are the supermarkets (Tesco, Asda etc), followed by WHS Travel (airports and train stations), followed by our one remaining book chain. Right at the bottom, representing only a fraction of my sales, is Amazon.

To be clear, I'm an upper midlister, and have yet to trouble the main bestseller lists. But I'm still making a decent living from the "legacy" model.

A lot of people are doing very well with self-publishing. That's great. I see that as nothing but healthy, and fair play to anyone who can make their living doing what they love. But I don't see it as a reason to dance on the grave of a format that's still very much alive. This whole Them and Us mentality doesn't help anyone.

Joe Konrath said...

Let me just throw a few facts into the ring...

Thank you for doing so. I allow anonymous comments in the hope that smart folks post, and your comments are smart. Myopic, but smart.

The CD is a long way from dead as a format.

CD is simply storage for digital music. When was the last time you saw someone with a Sony Discman? People rip CDs to iTunes and their MP3 devices. Buy a CD format, you have the MP3 format. Ditto vinyl. New records are being sold with digital downloads.

You cannot do that with paper books.

US unit sales of 4.6M and growing

4.6M compared to billions is trivial. There is money to be made in niche, but this blog post is about how technology makes older formats obsolete. Don't confuse niche with what the masses have embraced in overwhelming numbers.

For me as an author, the vast majority of my sales are still in paper.

I'd guess that's either because your publisher is very good at distributing your titles, or because your publisher is vastly overpricing your ebook versions.

But I don't see it as a reason to dance on the grave of a format that's still very much alive. This whole Them and Us mentality doesn't help anyone.

If the ship is sinking, get off the ship before you go down with it. From where you sit, perhaps you haven't noticed the water coming in. Or you noticed a trickle, and aren't bothered by it because you believe the ship is too big to be affected.

Kodak didn't fear it until it was too late. They actually invented the digital camera. How many travel agents are there now compared to 1980? Try to buy a new Betamax.

My point is we all should be looking toward the future, and paper isn't it. I don't see paper going away anytime soon. But I do see publishers going bankrupt if they don't change.

This isn't Us vs. Them. This is a warning. The sky actually is falling. Protect yourself. Ignoring the signs, not learning from the past, and putting your faith in an archaic, poorly run, wasteful, greedy, and often evil industry isn't going to help you in your career five or ten years hence, when supermarkets stop carrying paperbacks and your publisher still has your ebooks at $9.99 and won't EVER give the right back to you.

Could I be wrong? Sure.

But my track record for this stuff is pretty good.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Though what will replace the eReader? Funny post by the way. enjoyed

Tuan Ho said...

Brilliant, brilliant post Joe!

lol

douglasjhunt said...

I had a choice when planning for my 2 1/2 week vacation to Kauai...Bring 80 paperback books to choose from and pay USAirways $70 to check two additonal suitcases, or bring my iPad and Droid phone loaded with 80 books (about a third of them obtained for free, two written by Joe).

Very tough choice, but in the end the eBooks won, except for the paperback book I brought to read while lounging in the pool. Much more cost effective to get the paper wet rather than my electronic devices...

I very much appreciate this blog. Joe's posts of his experiences combined with the comments of others are an unbeatable source for Good. I thank you all.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

"Much more cost effective to get the paper wet rather than my electronic devices..."

Put your Kindle or tablet in a ziplock bag and you're good to go. Touch still works through the plastic.

douglasjhunt said...

"Put your Kindle or tablet in a ziplock bag and you're good to go. Touch still works through the plastic."

True enough. Still, the surface area of my printed book is slightly larger than that of my tablet, so it will make a better sail for the floating lounge chair I will be commanding.

Choices...

Anonymous said...


"Still, the surface area of my printed book is slightly larger than that of my tablet, so it will make a better sail for the floating lounge chair I will be commanding."

Everyone take note, writing like that doesn't come around often.

Tim Finin said...

Polaroid is back from the dead: http://tgt.biz/Ymo4NX

jry said...

Hey Jude Hardin - I love Manimal to this day....and Automan, McCallum's Invisible Man, Gemini Man.

Jude Hardin said...

Hey Jude Hardin - I love Manimal to this day....and Automan, McCallum's Invisible Man, Gemini Man.

I had to look those up. Wow. 70s and 80s television was even worse than I remembered! ;)

Sean Ammirati said...

ah, this was hilarious. And hopefully true for us self-publishers! seeing paper books go away completely like VHS would sort of hurt a little inside, though. just on a personal level, not on, uh, any other level.

jry said...

And I didn't even mention Loni Anderson and Lynda Carter's Partners in Crime. I probably shouldn't admit to having very old and fuzzy copies of each show on my Zune but I will. (yep bet you could already tell I wasn't an iPerson). I like to think of myself as a quirky eccentric whose exquisite taste will be applauded in the distant future...or maybe not:)

As a reader/librarian I love books but it IS the content not the delivery system I love. I can still get gooey over the fantastic covers and dust jackets of old (and I mean the 60's and older old) but I don't equate that with losing myself in the words. I am planning on getting a solar charger so I'm not even that worried about power outages anymore.

Before Amazon, Smashwords, Pubit and the like I could give some sympathy to writers who desperately wanted to see their brain children on the bookstore shelf but now just shake my head in wonderment. I didn't have friends in the publishing business or published writer friends who complained and put me in the know and yet as far back as the 80's and 90's - I could pick up enough knowledge here and there to know that advances for most writers could be on the crappy side, income reporting sporadic, and marketing support for midlist writers was nil and rather than look for new authors publishers would put out reprints out the kazoo while still somehow not allowing authors to earn out advances. (I remember standing in front of a long row of paperbacks thinking this sounds familiar, so does this one and finally looking at copyright dates at least half of them were reprints with different covers.) If I, with no dog in the hunt, can figure out self publishing today is much more viable than traditional publishing why on earth can't people who hope to make it a career?

Anonymous said...


Hey Joe or anyone who describes themselves as an "Indie Author", how about making a Wikipedia article for "Indie Author" since they don't have one?

Self-pubber or Self-publisher isn't there either.

Anyway, "Indie Author" sounds better and has more of mystique to it. :)

It's the perfect opportunity to describe the traits Joe always talks about:
1. Experiment and try different tactics.
2. Adapt and change your tactics as the times and environment changes and new information comes in.
3. Keep trying until you get lucky.
4. Share and help your fellow authors and have both arms out--one reaching up toward the next level and the other reaching down to pull your fellow authors up to your level.
(Add more traits if there are any.)

And hey add some traits of your own that Joe hasn't mentioned.
You're an indie author after all, so you should know what the traits are. ;)

Anonymous said...

MOVIE INDUSTRY: May I join the conversation?

EVERYBODY: Sure.

MOVIE INDUSTRY: At one time some people thought that the movie industry would be killed by TV and VCRs. But that didn't happen.
Millions of people still go to movies.

TRAIN: Can I join the conversation too?

EVERYBODY: Yes.

TRAIN: Some people think trains are old fashioned, but we still have our uses. Many people use trains in large urban areas to go to work.
By taking a train, you save on car payments, parking, and instead of focusing on driving you can spend time reading Joe Konrath's books.

Also, in terms of large scale shipping on land, shipping food for example, trains are the best mode of delivery.

MOVIE INDUSTRY: I see young people, who use the internet, cell phones, and mp3 players, still go to movie theaters.

TRAIN: On the train, though I see people read on ereaders and computers, I still see people read paper books. The other day I saw someone on the train reading a paper version of Hugh Howry's WOOL.

MOVIE INDUSTRY: So I think the point that Mr. Train and I are making is that the traditional book industry, which will probably downsize some more, will still be aorund.

Joe Konrath said...

So I think the point that Mr. Train and I are making is that the traditional book industry, which will probably downsize some more, will still be around.

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2010/02/you-can-pry-my-paper-books-from-my-cold.html

I answered this three years ago. Destination value vs. journey value.

Movies and trains, like horses and bow-and-arrows, are about the journey. That's why they still persist.

Books are about the destination, not the journey. That's why paper will be gone soon.

But thanks for playing. Next time, read my old posts...

Scott M said...

No one gives Cassette Tapes a high five.

Best line. I'm making a t-shirt out of this line and not explaining to anyone that asks about it.

Thomas Diehl said...

Is Red Box still around in America? I remember them trying to establish in Germany and within a few months closed again because, guess what, internet made them obsolete. Why go to a machine somewhere downtown when you can just download on your PC? Now, you can still buy DVDs if you want but if it's a rental to begin with, why bother about collectables?

ellamedler said...

Brilliant! Now can someone invite the UK Publishing Industry to the table, please?

Angry Birds Trilogy USA WII free download said...

I love my ereader and my ebooks, I love being able to store all sorts of info in a slim little slice of a computer on my desk. But I also know that as long as there exists the possibility of prolonged power outages and 'net downtime, there's still a market for some things in paper.