Look into the not too distant future for magazines

Discuss general aspects of Genii.

Postby mrgoat » 12/18/09 05:14 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntyXvLnxyXk

Clearly physical publishing of magazines will die. The very idea of having to chop down trees, make paper, print a mag, cut it up, bind it, store it, send it round the world on trucks and planes will seem COMICAL.

Apple's rumoured tablet coming out next year which is MEANT to be as game changing for publishing as the ipod was for music (giving publishers a MUCH better deal than amazon's kindle deal does), may well be the tipping point.

Imagine genii like this!?! Wow. Interviews with people, photos/video from conventions. Reviews of tricks with the reviewer SHOWING you. Magicana with the creator SHOWING YOU the effect. Advertising where advertisers get REALLY useful data on how the ad performs, and they too can embed video, and other interactive features.

So, when will print die? Less than ten years is my prediction.

This looks amazing and I want it NOW!

How many current publishers of newspapers and magazines are preparing NOW for this INEVITABLE move to digital?

We all know magicians in particular love books. I do. I love the SMELL of the orig greater magic my Uncle have me. But this, well, this looks damn cool.

What do you think about the demo?
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Postby Tom Ecclestone » 12/18/09 06:27 AM

mrgoat wrote:...

How many current publishers of newspapers and magazines are preparing NOW for this INEVITABLE move to digital?


I think the problem remains as to how to extract money from people for online content. Forums can be very profitable, but the cost of digital magazines is generally more than advertising revenue.
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Postby mrgoat » 12/18/09 11:14 AM

Tom Ecclestone wrote:
I think the problem remains as to how to extract money from people for online content. Forums can be very profitable, but the cost of digital magazines is generally more than advertising revenue.


Huh? What digital magazines are you talking about that are operating at a loss? What forums do you know of are profitable?

Did you like the demo or not? Would you pay for a magazine like that or not?

(The problem of extracting money will be solved - many say - with the new apple tablet. Sorry, rumoured apple tablet. They are going to do to print publishing what they did to mp3 downloads many say).
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Postby Eoin O'hare » 12/18/09 12:27 PM

Here is another concept.
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Postby Joe Mckay » 12/18/09 12:38 PM

Well - I prefer ordinary print. I don't think having embedded video clips and interactivity is better than a traditional magazine. If I want that sort of thing I can just go on the internet... I still think old-fashioned print has a healthy future. Once all the hype dies down and people get bored of the gimmicks. The traditional reader is the target audiencs here and I think most of them prefer what we already have.

Paper is amazing stuff. I heard a saying once that if paper were invented today it would be regarded as the most important advance in technology ever. It is just so much better than any other format for distributing knowledge.

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Postby mrgoat » 12/18/09 12:55 PM

Joe Mckay wrote:Well - I prefer ordinary print. I don't think having embedded video clips and interactivity is better than a traditional magazine. If I want that sort of thing I can just go on the internet... I still think old-fashioned print has a healthy future.


Yeah, they said that about classified ads too.

Then some small little start up no one had heard of called craig's list launched.

All it needs is a tipping point. It's not there yet. But I promise you it will happen, very soon.

I like print too. But I can't say I prefer it over a as yet unreleased potentially world changing device. It's not out yet.

Joe Mckay wrote:Once all the hype dies down and people get bored of the gimmicks. The traditional reader is the target audiencs here and I think most of them prefer what we already have.


Yup Audiophiles said that about vinyl too. I am sure horse sellers said it when Ford sold a car. And don't forget those pesky typewriters!

Joe Mckay wrote:Paper is amazing stuff. It is just so much better than any other format for distributing knowledge.


Oh please. How is paper better for distributing knowledge than the a free, instant, worldwide distribution method?

Is it the cost of the trees and pulping that digital doesn't have? The printing costs? The ink? The cutting? The binding? The trucks and planes to ship it round the world months laters?

How is that 'better distribution' that me pressing the "publish" button and INSTANTLY millions and millions of people all round the world being about to see my knowledge?

If you can remove the IMMENSE cost of paper, ink, printing, cutting, binding, storing, distributing, taking back returns, pulping returns etc and can just press PUBLISH you have a VASTLY different business model.
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Postby Joe Mckay » 12/18/09 02:43 PM

Many magazines and newspapers do seem to be struggling. So this new technology might help with the bottom line. Maybe this e-ink paper which could have content instantly downloaded onto it would give some of the benefits of paper and reduced overheads...

Still - alot of these things never work out the way you think they will. Look at the resurgence of 3D at cinemas. I am sure that will die away as well...

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/18/09 03:05 PM

We kinda went from Reader's Digest to RSS feeds.

IMHO serious scholarly efforts will remain appealing to folks who enjoy that sort of reading - at least till proper 3d video gets worked out. Then we're probably looking at more serious wikepedia indexing type efforts and and even less paper in hand IMHO. Though this presumes a continuity of culture as it is with literacy and relatively free access to print and internet media. A marked decrease in language skills and/or access to timely electronic media may leave us much worse for want of folks who can write compact instructional prose and readers who can work from clues and cues.
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Postby Edward » 12/18/09 09:29 PM

What will happen to all the magazines in doctor offices? :(
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/18/09 09:43 PM

Readers have yet to show that they are willing to pay an economically feasible amount for digital content.

Advertisers have yet to show that they are willing to pay an economically feasible amount for digital advertising.

When those things change, Mr. Goat's prediction may eventually come true.
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Postby David Alexander » 12/18/09 10:34 PM

Less than ten years? Unlikely given that there is already a well-entrenched infrastructure for the production and use of paper including magazines. That's not going away any time soon. Besides, people like substance for their money, not excited electrons on a panel.

Sure, you can embed video but someone still has to produce that video, direct it, edit it, prep it for "magazine" production. And for it to be of preceived value it would have to be professional quality, well above the mindless crap on YouTube. That means professionals who know what they're doing in shooting the video. Sounds to me like more work and expense instead of less.

Then there is the problem of changing formats. Well produced books last a long time. Their "format" never changes. Books produced a hundred years ago (and longer) are still easily read today.

I remember the early days of computing...the old days of DOS. There were a variety of word processing programs each with their own format.

I remember a friend of mine buying a program at a surplus sale that had been written to convert word processing programs from one format to another. An aerospace company had spent a small fortune having it written. They used it to convert all their internal documents to one format and then they got rid of it. My friend picked it up for peanuts. His wife's word processing business made a small fortune converting files from one format to another for about a year until conversion software came out as a commercial product available for about $50.

The point is, sure, we'll probably have these readers and they may have some small level of success, but as technology rushes forward how long will they and their formats remain viable? Anyone here have any old Betamax tapes? Eight-track? Laserdisk player?
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Postby Joe Mckay » 12/19/09 07:09 AM

I agree with David. He touches on some of the great properites of paper. Others include the fact that it is cheap, durable (you can drop it and spill stuff on it without it being a major issue) and there is no easier way to quickly scan to a page than with a book/magazine in your hand. I mean if I am reading a book and then a few dozen pages later I want to go back and re-read a certain paragraph, it is quite easy to visually guess-timate how far back in the book to turn to (it is something we do alot when a bookmark falls out of a book as well). It is also easy to quickly scan/speed read paper documents to get a gist of the information. All this and many other features (including the fact that the format never gets made obsolete by newer technologies) and the fact that it is easy to make notes and crimp corners of important pages add to the advantages of working on paper.

Another thing is that I find it much easier to quickly scan across a bookshelf in search of an interesting book (or a book I need but haven't read in years) than I do by searching through a list of computer files by author/title. Also - I think the tactile sensation and smell of a book helps to 'lock in' the information into your long term memory. I find it easy to recall stuff from all the books I have ever read. But - I have trouble doing the same for any of the e-books I have worked through...

I really do believe that if paper were invented today it would be regarded as revolutionary and far superior to any of the fancy e-readers on the marketplace today. Some things are so abundant and brilliant that they will never go away. Like Coca-Cola...

I am going to go hug some paper now...

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Postby Bob Cunningham » 12/19/09 07:49 AM

Disruptive technologies displace existing technologies very rapidly. And most of us do not see it until after the disruption has taken place.

In 1990, I heard many arguments explaining that encyclopedias (print versions) would never be replaced by computers. The wide spread adoption of Wikipedia has virtually destroyed the market for paper encylopedias.


In the 1980's we heard that CD's would never replace vinyl records. It look less than 10 years for CD's to completely displace records and tapes.

The objection that people want to hold something "tangible" is demonstrably false. In 1999, CD sales accounted for almost all music sales. In 2008 Itunes was the number one music distributor in the world.

In the late 1990's I heard telecommunication company executives in classes I taught argue that the enormous investment that telephone companies had in traditional telephony equipment ment that these companies would NEVER convert to sending voice over internet protocol like Vonage was doing. Today almost all of your long distance is carried by internet protocol.

Older people (and I am in my mid 50's so I count myself in this group) are always resistant to new technologies. Yet these disruptive technologies come anyway.

Richard has put forth the only argument against digital magazines I have heard that holds any water. Until a technology can be monetized it will remain an oddity to be lusted after by technophiles.

Many technologies never find life among consumers. The flying car and computers that converse with their owners have both failed to appear in the mainstream (although for different reasons).

However, e-books do not appear to be in this category. As of May 2009, e-books account for 35% of Amazons book sales (when the e-book is available). This is why Barns and Noble invested so much money and prestige in their own e-reader this fall (the nook).

I don't know how to overcome Richards financial objections vis-a-vis magazines, but I would be shocked if in 2019 the lions share of new books sold were not in electronic format.
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Postby mrgoat » 12/19/09 07:50 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Readers have yet to show that they are willing to pay an economically feasible amount for digital content.



That's true. Equally music lovers were yet to show they were willing to pay an economically feasible amount for music. Napster was rife. Everyone was stealing music. Then Apple launched the iTunes Music Store and the iPod. It was quicker and easier to buy music than every before and guess what? People paid for music and the industry was revolutionised. Who saw that coming? No one. Who was ready? No one.

At least there is a heads up about print this time.

Richard Kaufman wrote:Advertisers have yet to show that they are willing to pay an economically feasible amount for digital advertising.


Also true. But, if you could all of a sudden offer your advertisers amazing tracking, and information on how long people look at ads, what they click on, offer value added stuff (or upsell stuff) like links, video embeds, audio embeds etc then that will change too.

Richard Kaufman wrote:When those things change, Mr. Goat's prediction may eventually come true.


It's far from MY prediction. It is obvious that paper will die. (or at least become as niche as vinyl is today, then die). It's simply a matter of when.

And which old media publishers are ready to make the money digital will be offering. And which will die.
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Postby mrgoat » 12/19/09 08:16 AM

Bob Cunningham wrote:Richard has put forth the only argument against digital magazines I have heard that holds any water. Until a technology can be monetized it will remain an oddity to be lusted after by technophiles.

However, e-books do not appear to be in this category. As of May 2009, e-books account for 35% of Amazons book sales (when the e-book is available). This is why Barns and Noble invested so much money and prestige in their own e-reader this fall (the nook).

I don't know how to overcome Richards financial objections vis-a-vis magazines, but I would be shocked if in 2019 the lions share of new books sold were not in electronic format.


What a well put post, Sir.

And yes, the financial argument is the only real one. And before the iTunes Music Store came out, I imagine record companies said the same as Mr K. "Yeah yeah, show me the money".

I believe this year Apple are launching the same for publishing. I believe they are already doing deals that are massively favourable to the Amazon deal. With that, Amazon treat the book publishers as a partner, and want paying like a partner, they demand exclusivity and a HIGH cut and everyone is pissed off with them.

Apple (alledgedly) are behaving more as a sales outlet. They are not asking for exclusivity, not asking for as much money, and are going to provide (hopefully) a device that will change things as much as the iPod did.

I'm excited about it all.
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Postby magicam » 12/19/09 09:09 AM

Bob Cunningham wrote:... The wide spread adoption of Wikipedia has virtually destroyed the market for paper encylopedias.

Is that fact, or opinion? IMHO, Wikipedia has little, if anything, to do with the demise of the printed encyclopedia. For starters, in terms of work product, Wikipedia is riddled with errors and is uninformed, amateur writing its a 1st graders homework assignment compared to the authority of a reputable encyclopedia. I suspect that it is the digital versions of those very same reputable paper encyclopedias that have hurt the market for the paper ones.

Bob Cunningham wrote: ... The objection that people want to hold something "tangible" is demonstrably false. In 1999, CD sales accounted for almost all music sales. In 2008 Itunes was the number one music distributor in the world....

For the reasons discussed in the links provided below, it is extremely difficult at this time to equate digital books with the evolution of digital music and its widespread consumer acceptance. And until commodities such as gold, silver and platinum can be digitized to the satisfaction of investors and the general public, the idea that people want to hold some things in tangible form will remain demonstrably true.

Bob Cunningham wrote: ... As of May 2009, e-books account for 35% of Amazons book sales (when the e-book is available). ...

On its own, Im not sure that 35% figure is very informative. Of the total number of paper books published, what percentage thereof are also offered as e-books? Moreover, how are book sales measured? In revenues? In number of titles sold? Some other measurement?

If memory serves, only a couple of years ago, even GF proponents of the e-book like Chris Wasshuber had to concede that the production of printed books in this digital age was at an all-time high. How does that square with the prediction of the demise of the printed book?

Finally, Im still waiting for that paperless office that was predicted nearly 20 years ago.

Here are a couple of links to past GF discussions on this topic:

http://www.geniimagazine.com/forums/ubb ... mber=88497

http://www.geniimagazine.com/forums/ubb ... mber=14642
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Postby Bob Cunningham » 12/19/09 09:54 AM

magicam wrote:Is that fact, or opinion? IMHO, Wikipedia has little, if anything, to do with the demise of the printed encyclopedia.


The point is not whether you think that Wikipedia is a good thing or bad (although I find it to be fabulously useful and accurate). The point is that print encyclopedias are dead or dying! The encyclopedia companies themselves blame Wikipedia. This seams unlikely if the sales were simply transferring from their print version to their online or (God help us) CD/DVD version. Here is NYT article that goes into more details: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/16/weeki ... ted=2&_r=2

magicam wrote:On its own, Im not sure that 35% figure is very informative. Of the total number of paper books published, what percentage thereof are also offered as e-books? Moreover, how are book sales measured? In revenues? In number of titles sold? Some other measurement?


More details on the number I quoted can be found here: http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/05/06/fo ... int-sales/

The point is that the major players in the book selling world see e-books as the future of book sales (http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/10105).

Perhaps they are wrong, but given that most successful businesses know their own industry, and that these companies are currently investing large amounts of money into e-books, I would think that this should pause to anyone give anyone arguing against the wide spread adoption of e-books.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/19/09 11:42 AM

A large set of printed Encyclopedias is very expensive: hundreds of dollars. So expensive that we couldn't afford one when I was a kid and that led me to the library.

Printed encyclopedias are dead because WikiPedia is FREE. Parents don't worry about all the errors--it's FREE, and that's enough. That's the problem with almost all Internet content: it's free, and there's a lot of it.
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Postby Bob Cunningham » 12/19/09 11:58 AM

I agree that Free is a very attractive feature, but probably not so attractive that Wikipedia would be so popular if it were riddled with errors.

A 2005 study by the British journal Nature found that Wikipedia comes close to Britannica in terms of the accuracy of its science entries, although not as well written.

A better written product, but with roughly equivalent accuracy, is probably not worth the large investment for most consumers.

"For its study, Nature chose articles from both sites in a wide range of topics and sent them to what it called "relevant" field experts for peer review. The experts then compared the competing articles--one from each site on a given topic--side by side, but were not told which article came from which site. Nature got back 42 usable reviews from its field of experts.

In the end, the journal found just eight serious errors, such as general misunderstandings of vital concepts, in the articles. Of those, four came from each site. They did, however, discover a series of factual errors, omissions or misleading statements. All told, Wikipedia had 162 such problems, while Britannica had 123.

That averages out to 2.92 mistakes per article for Britannica and 3.86 for Wikipedia. "

http://news.cnet.com/2100-1038_3-5997332.html
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Postby mrgoat » 12/19/09 12:31 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Printed encyclopedias are dead because WikiPedia is FREE.


Possibly.

Or that the encyclopedia is too expensive
Or that the encyclopedia is too large to read comfortably
Or that the encyclopedia takes up far too much room
Or that the encyclopedia is out of date as soon as it is printed

Or that wikipedia is easier and faster to access
Or that wikipedia is much larger

Or that wikipedia is accessible in the pub on your iphone to settle an argument

:)

Free is obviously good. I am sure magicpedia wouldn't be what it is if there was a financial barrier to entry.

None of this means that you will never be able to get premium (paid for) creative content on the internet though.

It just means, that right now, there isn't a viable way. Just like there wasn't a viable way to make monye with music online until apple created the iTunes Music Store and launched the ipod. When the apple device launches, if it is going to do what the analysts are predicting, it will be the iPod for the printed word.

Imagine if record labels could have known in advance what was about to happen to them? Imagine what they would have changed and done differently?

It's inevitable that print revenue will be surpassed by digital revenue very soon. Just needs that killer device to create the tipping point.

Although I am an apple fanboy, it isn't necessarily true they are going to create this device. But the sensible money seems to think so.
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Postby Bob Cunningham » 12/19/09 12:36 PM

mrgoat wrote:None of this means that you will never be able to get premium (paid for) creative content on the internet though.


Agreed!

I pay for the Wall Street Journal on-line ($197 per year). I know that Mr. Murdoch is trying to re brand most of his on-line news empire as premium. It will be very interesting to watch and see how successful he is.
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Postby mrgoat » 12/19/09 12:58 PM

Bob Cunningham wrote:
mrgoat wrote:None of this means that you will never be able to get premium (paid for) creative content on the internet though.


Agreed!

I pay for the Wall Street Journal on-line ($197 per year). I know that Mr. Murdoch is trying to re brand most of his on-line news empire as premium. It will be very interesting to watch and see how successful he is.



I can't see people paying for The Sun newspaper online.

Although, in the UK, The Guardian newspaper has just launched a paid for iPhone app that is topping all the charts. So people are prepared to PAY for content they can GET FREE on the internet? :)

Yes. Seems they are.
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Postby the Larry » 12/19/09 01:16 PM

I think Wikipedia is so successful because it is right there where you need it - on the computer. Most writing these days is done on the computer. It is therefore most convenient to use Wikipedia even if you have 12 volumes of Britannica, or how many they are these days. Try to look something up in a printed encyclopedia. It takes much longer than typing in keywords into Google or surf over to Wikipedia and do the searching there.

The explanation therefore simply is convenience. The fact that it is free adds to the convenience. Not because you don't have to pay anything but it eliminates any ordering or sign up process which is an inconvenience by itself. It is annoying to register, to login, to type in all your credit card info, etc.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 12/19/09 01:33 PM

The problem with Wikipedia is that more and more of my sons college instructors are not allowing it as a source because of its infamous reputation. I suspect that this isnt just happening at his school. Its because of the lack of control over its content that it contains such an amazing range of the factual, the apocryphal, to just plain [censored]: You get what you pay for. Theres simply no way to trust it without using due diligence and following upthus using up more time. I didnt let my son use it when he was in high school, but we have a set of encyclopedias and I have been a subscriber to The National Geographic (another superb source for the student) since 1978.

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Postby Roger M. » 12/19/09 02:02 PM

Wiki is regularly rated as being on par with the Encyclopedia Britannica in terms of accuracy and percentage of errors.

It's very different today that it was even a year ago in terms of accuracy.

Wiki have put in place a number of tools to deal with the issues raised three or four years ago regarding accuracy. Those tools are described in detail on Wiki itself and elsewhere for those interested.

Crediting is an entirely different issue, and the prime reason why Wiki is not acceptable as a research source for university level work.
If your research requires accurate crediting, Wiki hasn't got the depth.
For general and public research though, accuracy is generally not an issue.

BTW, the magazine "Nature" published a study which indicated that not only was Wiki on par with the Encyclopedia Britannica in terms of accuracy, but it also contained roughly the same percentage of errors.
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Postby Andrew Pinard » 12/19/09 02:23 PM

The "free" argument is fallacious. Content is paid for by users who access it (through the "web-tubes") and by advertising...

Prestige, accuracy, and interesting content is going to draw readers, and therefore, advertisers.

Look at television. It is, and for the most part, remains free. Both advertisers and consumers pay for it. Consumers pay through subscription fees to cable and satellite providers. Advertisers, well, advertise. Consumers are paying for content delivery or for premium content. Those providers are paying to producers for that content. At some point, the premium content providers realized that quality work that consumers want pays. They upped their investment and took some risks to add novelty and the consumers responded.

If Encyclopedia Brittanica were to develop a subsription-based service, it would limit the number of consumers. If it provided a free service paid through advertising (sponsorships, if you will), it would have been very successful. The challenge is making the migration from one method of delivery to another. Any business starting expects to lose money for the first few years. Investing in a new method of delivery will cost money, but if you make it convenient, inexpensive, engaging, and of appropriate quality (the wikipedia argument).

Seems to me I remember a "rule" that stated that the level of income a product can expect to make is based on its quality and desirability. Make something desirable in small quantities and sell it at a high price and you will make the same amount of money to make something less desirable at an inexpensive price point. The idea being that the same amount of money is there to be made.

Several manufacturers in this industry have learned that limiting supply and raising prices leads to a quicker return on investment. Then there is an inevitable wait to release the material again in a different "package" with the lower price, to collect the extra "gravy".

A delivery-system, whether print, video, audio or thought transmission is nothing more than a delivery system. Everyone has their own preference. The content drives the market. We live in a small market, and, as much as I love print, video and online content are going to be the next wave of development because of convenience and cost.

Wouldn't it be great if our industry stepped up and grabbed a larger share of the entertainment marketplace?

Of course then we would have to create content that would have broader appeal and be of a quality akin to other performance arts...

A happy dream!
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Postby NCMarsh » 12/19/09 04:13 PM

Paper will not die, and here's why:

all of the arguments that center on what's happened with audio, video, etc. miss a critical difference between those media and paper.

Recorded audio and film/video have always required a "reader" of some form or another.

I can't hold a CD up to my ear and hear the music. I am dependent on a device to translate the information stored into a physical experience that I can enjoy.

So the burden of having to switch formats as "readers" improve/change, is all part of the game because I have to have a reader -- and therefore it makes sense to have the most convenient device possible.

A book, however, is a fundamentally different medium because it is self-contained and -- for the purposes of my life time -- permanent. Provided I have my eyesight, can read the language, and the physical object is still intact, there is no barrier to my being able to read a book produced at any time, by any company, anywhere in the world.

Once I have bought a book, provided I take care of it, I can enjoy it for the rest of my life.

Why would I possibly trade that permanence and freedom in to become dependent on a device that will force me to re-purchase my books over and over again every time a new format emerges (cf. the details in David Alexander's excellent post, above).

Now, media that is by nature less permanent -- I don't keep around old newspapers and certain magazines -- may very well go all digital. But the information that we invest in with the desire to have access to for the rest of our lives (and quality magic magazines are still relevant decades after they've been published) I think we will keep in a form we know we will be able to access whenever we need it.

We never had that certainty about audio/film recordings in any form, we always knew we'd have to change -- we just didn't know when and to what.

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/19/09 04:29 PM

I got all my goodies written up in Linear B a while ago but now I can't find my Rosetta stone... so maybe Latin this time?
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Postby Joe Mckay » 12/19/09 04:33 PM

Great post NCMarsh!

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/19/09 05:08 PM

If that were true our new cuneiform would be a form of Laban for Conjurers.
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Postby NCMarsh » 12/19/09 05:20 PM

Jonathan,

I've reproduced, with added emphasis, the relevant section of the post below.

Best,

N.

Provided I have my eyesight, can read the language, and the physical object is still intact, there is no barrier to my being able to read a book produced at any time, by any company, anywhere in the world.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/19/09 05:30 PM

Nathan, IMHO the presupposition of a literate population is unfounded. Also, as of Borges, we know that you can't read the same book twice. Around here we do seem to find the same trick offered more than twice though. ;)

Anyway - IMHO between nostalgia and prestige - magic tomes will be appealing for a long time.

How are folks doing on a version of Laban for conjurers?
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Postby NCMarsh » 12/19/09 05:38 PM

we know that you can't read the same book twice


Which is one of the major reasons to keep the same text in a form that you can revisit it.

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Postby Kent Gunn » 12/19/09 05:51 PM

Jon,

Laban: ??? Are we talking about Becky's big brother or doing kinesiology?

As for the Borges reference that went screaming over my head. I'm not into mystery writers and have not read any Borges. (Wife-unit scored a win on knowing his work.)

Sorry to bother you Jon, but people often ask me to translate for you and I'm trying to keep my database of obtuse references up to date.

Thanks,

KG
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Postby magicam » 12/19/09 06:22 PM

NCMarsh wrote:Paper will not die, and here's why:

all of the arguments that center on what's happened with audio, video, etc. miss a critical difference between those media and paper.

Recorded audio and film/video have always required a "reader" of some form or another. I can't hold a CD up to my ear and hear the music. I am dependent on a device to translate the information stored into a physical experience that I can enjoy.

... A book, however, is a fundamentally different medium because it is self-contained and -- for the purposes of my life time -- permanent. Provided I have my eyesight, can read the language, and the physical object is still intact, there is no barrier to my being able to read a book produced at any time, by any company, anywhere in the world. ...

Nathan, Im a forever bibliophile, so I hope that paper will never die. But I think theres a bigger point to this than the self-contained nature of a physical book: IMO, the crucial point that many miss in promoting e-books over physical books is the fact that e-book readers thus far very poorly mimic the experience of reading a physical book. Until that happens, IMO e-books will be a poor cousin of physical books.

Music is aural in nature, and books are visual AND tactile in nature. Nobody cares how they store and recall their music so long as they can hear their music. And all the iPod and others have done is to make it easier to store and recall music, but they do not change the very nature (auditory) of music Led Zeppelin essentially sounds the same on vinyl, cassette, 8-track or on an iPod. But I would argue that e-books fundamentally shift the nature (functionally and visually) of a book, and thus there will be far greater consumer resistance to switching over to e-books until the readers experience of using an e-book approximates that of reading a physical book.

There are other drawbacks to e-books, especially e-book readers: durability (can it get repeatedly dropped kicked, get buried in sand at the beach, get wet, etc.), eye strain, size and legibility, resolution (you wanna look at an image of the Mona Lisa in 80dpi?), color, etc.

Bob Cunningham wrote: ... The point is that print encyclopedias are dead or dying! The encyclopedia companies themselves blame Wikipedia. ...

Understand your point, Bob, and it certainly seems valid, so far as it goes. But in the link you provided, I read nothing which said that the encyclopedia companies blame Wikipedia for the demise of their print business. Where did you read that?

Bob Cunningham wrote: More details on the number I quoted can be found here: http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/05/06/fo ... int-sales/

The point is that the major players in the book selling world see e-books as the future of book sales (http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/10105).

Perhaps they are wrong, but given that most successful businesses know their own industry, and that these companies are currently investing large amounts of money into e-books, I would think that this should pause to anyone give anyone arguing against the wide spread adoption of e-books.

Bob, from the link you provided, two things are clear: the 35% number is wrong (by the authors own admission) and is closer to 25%. Second, the metric is in unit sales, but only for books which are published both in print and in e-book form. Unfortunately, that tells us nothing about overall market share of e-books in the publishing business.

Now, regarding the massive investments in e-book readers being made by Amazon and others, there is a cold, hard economic reality when it comes to technologies like this: if you dont get in early, you will be shut out of the market. True, the massive investment does probably reflect a belief in the future e-book market, but by the same token, history is littered with examples of companies making huge investments to establish a technological standard, but losing big-time on the gamble.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/19/09 09:10 PM

Kent,

The Laban reference is about how we can gain copyright protection for our sleights and routines in the same way as choreographers can protect their works.

The Borges reference is part of a cross between the Hericlitus quote about stepping into the same stream and the question left in the story about reviewing a text that's been "legitimately" rewritten by another though letter for letter textually identical to the original.

Does the text create its reader?
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby Andrew Pinard » 12/19/09 09:49 PM

I fully expect print to last a very long time to come. I don't anticipate in my lifetime to see a full transition from print to exclusive electronic distribution, but...

In addition to performing, I've spent the last year taking college classes towards a music degree and have had a front row seat to how the current generation uses information (caveat: in my neck of the woods), and the reality is that the consumer base for print is shrinking. Most students at the college level (and I presume younger) reach for electronic forms of entertainment and enlightenment well before they reach for conventional print. The college took to giving away free newspapers in the Union Building to encourage reading: the Concord Monitor, Union Leader, Boston Globe, New York Times and USA today. Each day over 2500 people travel right by the stacks, and, of the perhaps fifty copies of each that are delivered daily, only a few remain at the end of the day. That means that less than 10% of the individuals passing by elect to take advantage of the free media and, of that 10%, many are old fogies like me (non-traditionals and even professors).

One of the things that I learned this last year is that textbooks are expensive (yeah, they were expensive twenty years ago when I started, but $79 for a 300 page paperback? And that book was used - it sells new for $125). I only took two classes and I was out over $500 for the few books (and cds) I was required to purchase (each semester). Most of the books were published by Norton and every text was available separately in an e-book format. The paperback was full-color throughout, but knowing the approximate production costs for a 10,000 run (approximating the number of copies required for students throughout the country - and this number is likely low), they still had a very healthy profit margin. To Norton's credit, they provided free online content to users of the books that duplicated some material and added extra value (detailed outlines of the chapters, quizzes, audio and video footage that expanded on the test and additional material). I kept up with all the reading, but I found the online material invaluable in my studies and test preparation.

With the extreme costs of textbooks, I know many students who shared texts or used library copies.

Now imagine you are a producer and you can reduce your distribution and printing costs to near zero (you still have the production overhead). Now you can reduce the price of your "book" (content) and make higher profit margin. Why wouldn't you? Some textbook producers have even looked at creating a licensing option for the e-books. They expire after the semester is over and the only option is to re-up the lease. They could afford to do this for half the price of the printed book and still make more money per copy.

One of the challenges to the original producer is the Used Book market (which at the college level is significant). College bookstores and independent companies buy back the used book for 25% of the purchase price and re-sell them to students at 75% of the new price. This reduces the overall quantity of books sold by the publisher and caps their ROI. Imagine now if you could provide the content in a format that is cheaper to produce and eliminates the competition due to the new format.

How would you proceed if you were the business owner?

The eventuality is that succeeding generations will have no choice but to migrate to the electronic format. Providers will base their decision on economics as will ultimately the consumer.

Content does not need to be free, but it *does* need to be convenient and have some value. I paid for Edwin Dawes' "The Complete Rich Cabinet of Magical Curiousities" on CDROM as it was the only way it was provided. Would I have preferred it in book form? Sure. Would I have paid $300-500 for it? The number of people who would be interested in the material *and* willing to pay for the luxury of book copies would justify the high cost of the book (because of the lower print runs), but fewer people would ultimately have access to the material which would likely create a further decline in the interested population.

Take a look at the Albo books. They are spectacular works collecting the history of magical apparatus, their producers and performers. They are also inordinately expensive for those who do not have substantial resources or those passionate enough to live without other necessities to feed their interest. Don't get me wrong, my order for the Thayer books is already in (thank Byron), but if I was an up-and-coming performer living on Ramen noodles there is no way in heck I could justify that. It took me almost twenty years before I could justify even one volume...

In addition to reading and collecting books, I also design and compose them. In the magic trade I have grunted out books for almost every major publisher in magic. While I have published several smaller titles, I chose to produce interviews with notable magicians for another producer in video. Why?!? I thought it was important for magicians to not only read these performers' and creators' words but to hear their voice and see their reactions to questions. This brings a more personal understanding that one cannot get from the printed page. The hope is that the additional value provided by the video medium would inspire others to seek out the written words of interviewees to learn more about them and their work.

As much as I love books, I love sharing magic with others and if that means that we have to shift part of our focus on other medium I am all for it. It is important for our industry to promote itself to the public-at-large and to support the work of thinking, creative people to ensure that future generations of enthusiasts will continue to enter our world to secure a strong future for the craft.

Whatever medium they choose to work in.

ajp
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Postby Bob Cunningham » 12/21/09 10:17 AM

I teach my students to "follow the money" when watching for distributive technologies.

I came across this article today, "Sony Deal, Amazon Announcement Signal Intensifying E-Reader Wars" E-Reader Trends

Yogi Berra famously said, "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future." But if I were investing in the future of e-books, as the famous Magic 8-Ball said, all "signs point to yes".
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Postby the Larry » 12/21/09 05:28 PM

Basic economics clearly shows that digital content is far more economical than printing and distributing it on paper. It is highly unlikely that paper and printing will become cheaper in the future. Quite contrary, raw materials like pulp and energy increase in cost and thus any type of paper products will continue to become more costly.

It is therefore inevitable that digital media will more or less replace paper based content. Given the state of world economics this transition will come sooner than later, regardless of how much we all love printed books, regardless of how convenient they are, and regardless of how inferior we think e-readers are today and tomorrow.
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Postby NCMarsh » 12/21/09 11:20 PM

All of the economic arguments for ebooks replacing printed content -- at least as they are articulated here, so far -- seem to view commerce as a one-way street.

The reality is that consumption drives commerce; supply follows demand. Consumers choose winners based on their needs (cf. Betamax v. VHS), not based on the producer's needs. And if one producer doesn't provide what the consumer needs, another comes along to earn that business.

So yes, if publishers made the decisions of course they would love to see high-margin e-books replace printed matter (just as Sony loved the idea of everyone having to purchase a Sony product to use Betamax) -- and of course they're taking steps to get out front of that market -- but the decision isn't in their hands.

Now, that's not to say consumers won't choose e-content exclusively (especially as generations become more and more enmeshed in digital media), but to be clear that the winner will be decided by meeting consumer needs, not producer needs.

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