Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Books > CDs

This post is about books, or more specifically, what the music industry can learn from the book industry. (Is that the name the book industry is actually called? Or is it, like, the publishing industry?)

What I think is interesting about the music industry is that at the moment they get really pissed off when you take the music without paying for it. If you illegally download a song the record companies and usually the artists themselves get really mad at you and threaten never to make music ever again. Ever. Because the downloading makes them poor. Apparently.

Not that I've ever actually had anyone famous yell at me for stealing music, although I have read those notices they put on CDs saying 'downloading music has the same effect as stealing it from a store'. This confuses because if I'm reading the inside of the CD I've obviously bought the music and haven 't downloaded it at all. Why are they telling me this?


The people who write books are usually really pleased when people steal their stuff. Not steal-steal, but on the whole authors just love libraries and second-hand bookstores to bits. I kind-of-sort-of knew this before today, but I had my suspicions confirmed when I watched this old Brotherhood 2.0 video:

Quote of the day: "How are people supposed to afford to buy everything they want to read?"

Because I am a clever-dick, I would like to apply this logic to the music industry:

How are people supposed to afford to buy everything they want to listen to?"

Today's authors have obviously grown up accepting the fact that libraries and second-hand bookstores exist and are very useful to their users, even if they deny a bit of revenue to the people who write the books. People who like to write books also like to use libraries. Today, a paperback book costs around the same as a new CD, only to download a song is illegal but to borrow a book (or to buy an on-sold one from a book exchange, which gives no money to the author) is not.

So in ten year's time, won't musicians who have grown up accepting 'illegal' downloads be just as happy to have their work available for free as well as in a format where the user has to pay?

Authors do not make a lot of money. Popular musicians do (I stress popular). A lot of money. So do the record companies. Allowing free downloads might make being Britney Spears a lot less glitzy, but maybe that's okay.

Should record companies move toward becoming more like publishing houses?



  1. hmmmmm, Yea i agree... But when you borrow a book from a library you have it for a limited time, and when you buy a book from a second hand store... its ratty and in second condition, the authors have already recieved the money for that copy of the bookm where as with music, its being reproduced and given away, and nothing is lost in quality, the book equivalent of that would be people buying books and then making exact copies and giving them away, which the authors wouldn't approve of... not meaning to sound so anti, just my thoughts on it, I'm a pirate through and through, =P

  2. I started writing a comment here, but it became so long I made it its own blog entry.