CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

Entitlement

Douglas Preston has been taking heat for his surprisingly acid comment in the New York Times vis a vis e-book pricing:

“The sense of entitlement of the American consumer is absolutely astonishing,” said Douglas Preston, whose novel “Impact” reached as high as No. 4 on The New York Times’s hardcover fiction best-seller list earlier this month. “It’s the Wal-Mart mentality, which in my view is very unhealthy for our country. It’s this notion of not wanting to pay the real price of something.”

I won’t get into Wal-Mart or e-book pricing, but reading it I couldn’t help think of another form of American consumer: The driver. Just try floating the idea of a federal gas tax hike, simply to keep up with inflation (and, more ambitiously, to cover the actual costs of driving).

Then there’s this, via Streetsblog.

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This entry was posted on Monday, February 15th, 2010 at 9:43 am and is filed under Etc.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “Entitlement”

  1. Josh R Says:

    In both cases it’s a matter of perceived cost vs actual cost. People perceive the e-book to be cheaper because of the lack of printing and distribution costs, so there’s a sense that it should be significantly cheaper.

    Similarly, people perceive the parking spots to be basically free, so they see the meters as existing only to take in revenue, not realizing the role they play in keeping parking spots available by making all day parking expensive and inconvenient.

    I don’t have a good solution to either issue, short of forcing everybody to actually learn about a given subject before opening their mouths.

  2. Peter Smith Says:

    i think it’s pretty ridiculous to beat up on ‘the American consumer’ — we generally have only a very small say in how things work.

    and the idea that raising the gas tax is something impossible to do is just false. it’s always been false, and it will always be false. it’s just a right-wing talking point, accepted as truth for some reason, but people will pay what they’re told to pay — it’s as simple as that. just need a little leadership.

    (and it’d help if google used the active voice to talk about who installed, and then removed, the white house solar panels.)

  3. ToddBS Says:

    Oh please. If you honestly believe that Peter, just roll over and keep quiet. From your own statements there is apparently nothing we can do about it so why even bring it up?

  4. Charlie Says:

    I personally think e-books SHOULD be cheaper because you’re actually getting less for your money. Not only are they cheaper to produce since they don’t have to be manufactured, they don’t need physical stores in order to be sold, only websites. Plus, you can’t sell an e-book to someone else once you’re done with it or lend it to a friend. So you’re getting something that was cheaper to produce and has more restrictions on what you can do with it. Therefore, it should be much cheaper. No one wants to stiff the author, but why would I pay the same for something virtual as I would for something physical? It doesn’t make sense.

  5. Don Says:

    Josh,

    In terms of e-book creation…

    I work in IT. We have a document mangement server that allows us to scan anything into PDFs. It has 2TB worth of storage, and cost us just over 1k.

    Throw in a couple hundred dollars worth of server accessories such as a UPS bettery system and such.

    We then rent a copier, and we bought an Imaging software suite that links the server to the copier. That allows us to scan documents into the server, and the PDFs created are also text searchable.

    So all in all, a small publishing start-up could probably get all of this setup for just over 10k if I am not mistaken.

    I don’t know what kind of monthly costs you may run into, but electrical can’t be much. Space wise, you could do this out of a small apartment. Your biggest headache would be data transfer rates and internet charges.

    As for the actual e-book creation, all I need is an unbound print-out of the book to scan, or if the layout is made in Word or Publisher, I can use the MS Office plug-in from the Imaging Software to create the PDF right on the PC.

    So seriously, e-book costs are quite minimal. No overheads to figure out, no wastes to calculate, no shipping and warehouse storage costs. Just whatever I stated above which should be a one-time only charge, a one-time web-site store portal design, paying the author, and monthly bills for internet, electrical, and web hosting (OR you could get another server and do that yourself for probably another $500 to $1000).

  6. aj Says:

    It is exactly this attitude, that as consumers, “we generally have only a very small say in how things work,” which is a huge portion of the problem. That attitude allows each individual to go through life, day in, day out, doing what is easy, rather than what is right, and justifying their selfishness all the way because what difference can one person make? It is sickening.
    The film Food Inc. makes the point that every time an individual buys groceries, every time they purchase free-range eggs or a Big Mac, they are casting a vote. Every time you buy the cheap $4, plastic, Chinese made thing-a-ma-jig rather than the quality, $6, sustainably produced version, you are casting a vote for the world you want to live in. Don’t cast your vote, then complain that you don’t have one.

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