Re: Fundamental Reform of Copyright Law

From: Spectrum Press <specpres[_at_]>
Date: Wed, 25 Sep 1996 07:51:29 +0000

Will Simmons wrote:
> On Wed, 18 Sep 1996, Dan Agin <specpres[_at_]> writes:
> >
> > [SNIP re past practice and re impact of modern tachnolohy on publishing]
> >
> > So what's to be done? Well, I think with new technologies, the
> > publishing business will transform itself. Up until now, the
> > philosophy has been to produce a property and have it protected
> > against copying. With all the available technology, copying is too
> > easy and that won't work. So I think what will happen is that
> > publishers will realize they must stand the philosophy on its head.
> > They must produce a property and *encourage* people to copy it. They
> > will make money doing so by including paid advertising in their
> > products, as magazines do. That magazine article that was faxed to
> > England included side-bars advertising vacation spots in the
> > Caribbean. That, my friends, is where I think books are headed. Book
> > matter surrounded by advertising? Why not? Dickens first appeared
> > surrounded by advertising in newspapers.
> But hasn't this been done ? I seem to recall a book published a few
> years ago containing work of some major authors (inter alia, David
> Halberstam) that contained advertising and caused quite a stir,
> including Op Ed pieces by all the usual suspects, articles, letters
> to the editor (and to the authors) and so on.
> It would be interesting to know what the publisher's results were --
> copies sold, revenues therefrom, revenues from the ads, and the like.
> If it was successful, why have there been few, if any follow-ons ?

Minor advertising in books has existed for many years. Seventy years ago, pulp novels were sold on newsstands, the text surrounded by advertising. In the 1950s, cigarette companies started including advertising pages in mass market paperbacks. The ads continued for 30 years, so they were probably successful. The problem is not advertiser resistance; my guess is the problem is publishing companies are concerned about the "image" they project to the reading public. Publishers do advertise their own products in their paperbacks. Up until this point, publishing has been a highly lucrative industry, and in such an industry the tendency is to be conservative for fear of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. Now technology is making the goose quack like a duck and publishers are getting worried. They ask: When the goose gets completely morphed into a duck, will it still lay golden eggs? There will be important changes, I think. The evolution of industry is like the evolution of biological forms. The necessity for profit is an irresistible force that acts as the engine for continual change.

Dan Agin

Spectrum Press Inc.
specpres[_at_] Received on Wed Sep 25 1996 - 13:00:42 GMT

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