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Things that make you say hmmmmm….

I read a few articles lately and they seem to point to an interesting economic relationship. In today’s (August 28th) New York Times, Hal Varian (of Berkeley) discusses the role of used books in the marketplace. Authors’ and rightsholders’ groups have long complained that Amazon’s selling of used and new books through the same service hurts their sales. Varian argues that this might actual help the market for new books. What struck me was his metaphor – you purchase a new car, and pay a good premium to buy it new, based on the sure knowledge that there is a resale market for it. I’d never throught of it that way.
Then, almost the same day, I forget exactly where, I read that teens who download free music are very much more likely to actually buy music (through iTunes or on CD, etc.) Hmmmm.
Combined these facts with the common knowledge that library users are much more likely to buy books too – even though they borrow a lot as well. I find this very interesting.
I have long suspected that there must be a different relationship economically between commodities and information/ideas.
Soooo, it makes me think that we need to look at the overall information and reading market more broadly than just the role of libraries, search engines, databases or bookstores. We’re part of a greater global knowledge ecology and this has a very different economic model that is expanding exponentially due to the boundarylessness of new technolgies. The supply and demand model applies to limited resources like grain, oil or pork bellies. In a world where there is an infinite supply of information and ideas things are different.
Think of it this way: If I have an apple and you have an orange. We each have one piece of fruit. I give you my apple and you give me your orange, we each still have one piece of fruit. Now, in another scenario, I have an idea and you also have a good idea. I share my idea with you and you share your dea with me. We each now have TWO good ideas. See the difference?
Now put this on a global scale, speed it up with better idea and information storage and distribution, and you see the power of the idea storehouses of our culture. Libraries. Hmmmmm.
Stephen
Things that make you say Hmmmm

Posted on: July 28, 2005, 11:47 am Category: Uncategorized