Paying for content (not)

If you’ve never read Clay Shriky’s blockbuster on why newspapers are doomed – Thinking the Unthinkable – well, read same.

On the same subject, there’s a great article by Paul Graham, exploring – in a slightly different way – how we never paid for content (in any format).

Publishers of all types, from news to music, are unhappy that consumers won’t pay for content anymore. At least, that’s how they see it.

In fact consumers never really were paying for content, and publishers weren’t really selling it either. If the content was what they were selling, why has the price of books or music or movies always depended mostly on the format? Why didn’t better content cost more?

A copy of Time costs $5 for 58 pages, or 8.6 cents a page. The Economist costs $7 for 86 pages, or 8.1 cents a page. Better journalism is actually slightly cheaper.

Almost every form of publishing has been organized as if the medium was what they were selling, and the content was irrelevant. Book publishers, for example, set prices based on the cost of producing and distributing books. They treat the words printed in the book the same way a textile manufacturer treats the patterns printed on its fabrics.

Think about it – buy the book as a hardback, $20. Trade (full-size) paperback, $12. Paperback (the 7×4 inch softcover) – let’s say $6. I’m making up prices, but the trend holds true: Same words (content), but consumer cost is marketing/printing/distribution costs. While there is some elasticity here – John Grisham’s novels (in all formats) may be higher than an unknown author’s – but prices quickly stabilize, and we’re (in this example) not paying for content, but for production margin.

I don’t know the answer, but for print publications (or bank teller/travel agents/real estate agents etc), it is not somehow moving the existing business model to the web while (pretending to) protecting the physical world model.

Hat tip to Jeff Jarvis.

Better Thumbnails

I use ImageMagick for my gallery image processing (with PhotoShop help).

I’ve never been satisfied with the thumbnails created; I’ve finally drilled into why my thumbnails sux.

ImageMagick issue (bad set by me); I’ve set stuff moving forward; working to fix bad old stuff.

Main issue:

convert -sample
good for full-sized pics

convert -resize
better for small (downsized stuff – icons; thumbs)

The few items I’ve put this change on are great; ah, lesson (finally) learned…

In Chicago

Took a day off of work yesterday (Friday, 9/4/2009) and went to noodle around Chicago.

Beautiful weather; and it all turned out to be a nice day.

First we hit the Art Institute – Neither of us are modern art fans, but the new modern wing has gotten a lot of buzz, so let’s check it out. Architecturally – inside and outside – pretty impressive (moronic that you can’t take stairs/escalator to the bridge over Monroe that connects to Millennium Park, however). Still don’t like modern art; I guess I’m just not that sophisticated.

Over the bridge to Millennium Park. Sorry, that’s an awesome addition to downtown. Yep, years over budget and over deadline, but it’s there and there is much to commend. Really. I apologize for the weak picture (best of bunch I took, too): I was more in “tourist” mode than “hmm…the light is better here…” mode. Snapshot day.

After Millennium Park, we – as we always do – meandered over to the Cultural Center. After the Rookery, probably my favorite building in Chicago (and it usually has – bonus! – art exhibitions; concerts). I was, again, in snapshot mode, but this building has so much to offer. At every angle it’s interesting, and all the Tiffany domes and inlays make it a landmark.

We then headed back to my old neighborhood – Lakeview/Boy’s Town. Hit the Coffee and Tea Exchange – best coffee beans out there, for my money – and just wandered to see what was new; what was missing.

For late lunch, we hit a little cafe on Clark between Addison and Belmont, Classic Thai. Awesome food, actually. Pot stickers (steamed; not fried) were great, the cabbage soup was almost refreshing, and the tilapia and red curry (pictured) was alone worth another visit.

Guess who’s coming FOR dinner?

Ah, last night (picture) and tonight the Peregrine Falcon has been trolling around for dinner.

Awesome looking bird (click the picture to view larger image; the thumbnail doesn’t do it justice); check out the eyes and beak. Killing machine. (Scale is impossible in this shot, but these falcons are roughly the size of somewhere between chickens/crows. Big ass birds.)

We have two bird baths, one bird feeder and a Shepard’s hook with two different finch feeders. Birds/squirrels/raccoons/opossums love it.

So do the falcons, looking for their flavor of the Backyard Buffet….