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Download Decade

Books are going digital. New York Times had an article about the implications, which reminded me of that famous saying about not knowing history and doomed repeats. Things to remember:

a) this means that if people want a book for free, it’ll be gettable free
b) there’s nothing anyone can do about that
c) the music business has been through all of this before
d) it would be a good idea for the book business to study the mistakes made by the music business

Here is a great video from the Globe and Mail about the history of Napster, music downloading, and the rise of the mp3, from their great series: Download Decade:


  1. Hugh Hugh 2009-05-17

    thanks steph … thanks … followed your twitter link ;-)

  2. Laurence miall Laurence miall 2009-05-20

    I am still not convinced of the supposed sea-change in media distribution tending towards everything for free (!) Rupert Murdoch recently speculated that myspace and his other media ventures might soon have to charge. Not surprisingly, the ruthless tycoon doesn’t see much future in providing a service that costs millions to make without bringing in revenue from the user. As much as it pains me to say it, wherever Murdoch goes, probably a good number of others will follow.

    There are two things that seldom go addressed in this issue, I feel. One: how do cultural artifacts get made when nobody is willing to pay for them? And two: do we have to accept the idea of a free use, advertising-revenue driven model? I think that’s highly problematic. Depending on the media, I would rather pay for a service than get it for free and have to put up with advertising. The current complacency in the face of relentless advertising is vaguely disturbing. Even on my favourite free sites, such as The Guardian (which is also openly musing about charging fees) I would much rather subscribe at $10-$40 /year instead of being advertised to. I think there is more integrity in paying for something that you clearly value rather than NOT paying and passively accepting the relentless drone of commercial imagery.

  3. […] I can’t get the issue of free culture out of my head. I recently responded to Hugh McGuire’s blog post here about books having to follow the model of music and accepting free distribution as a reality. As I […]

  4. Hugh Hugh 2009-05-20

    Yes would be nice if media producers gave us the choice, and made it easy for us to pay for their goods in formats we want them in.

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