Paul Carr of TechCrunch thinks book publishing has a better future than music because there is no assumption amongst buyers that digital books will be free. He also implies that people don’t associate any value with music. He is wrong and his argument is ridiculous:
- People expect to pay for e-books - It is only a matter of time before this expectation changes. The expectation of “free” comes only if the content is already available for free. In the case of music and movies, this expectation comes from content that can be easily ripped and distributed for free and file-sharing sites that make it widely available. What will happen when (not if) someone figures out a way to rip e-books and share it with the rest of the world?
- People don’t value music - Almost everybody listens to music, but only some truly enjoy it. It is this set of music lovers that understands and appreciates the value of music. According to a poll Paul refers to in the video, young people believe digital music has zero value. I think the poll is just a reflection of the fact that there are far too many people who listen to music because it enhances another activity (like a workout) or because it makes an unpleasant activity (like a commute) more palatable and not because they truly enjoy the music. On the other hand, people read books only if they believe they will derive value from it because unlike listening to music, reading requires time and effort. Therefore, compared to music listeners, book readers are far more likely to associate value with the content they are consuming.
The only redeeming thing in this video – Sarah Lacy disagrees with Paul and points out that Paul’s hypothesis is really just wishful thinking.