09 April 2007


That's the real theme of the Monday Morning Miscellany this week.
  • The returns systems is causing problems with an almost-guaranteed money-maker in publishing. Some independent bookstores in the UK are threatening not to stock the next Harry Potter because the publisher is restricting returns... and the discounts that the independents can offer aren't competitive with the "big box" stores. It's just as bad over here, but the press hasn't caught on yet.
  • People who don't understand "property," let alone "intellectual property," will nonetheless pontificate on the future of it. The story in the Grauniad is a textbook-quality example of the inductive fallacy... or, rather, six textbook-quality examples of the inductive fallacy. Trying to draw conclusions of general applicability from instances falling within the general range of experience is hard enough; doing so from instances well outside the norm is impossible, at least if one hasn't been sipping the IWTBF Kool-aidtm.
  • But we can expect to make up for lower sales with advertising, right? Riiiiiiiiiiight. This also points out why I don't try to support this blawg with ads. I ran a low-traffic, anonymous test for ad suitability a few months back (don't bother trying to find it — it's long gone), in which the entries were just key phrases, such as "vanity presses are almost always scams." Care to guess what various algorithms chose as ads? That's right: various vanity presses, including two of the most notorious. And that's probably a "good" result compared to that described in the linked article!
  • Then there's the disrespect for the visually impaired implied in this article — and it's a shame. Helvetica is actually a well-designed typeface. It's not quite as versatile as Univers, but that is by design as much as by accident. It's certainly a better choice for running text than just about any other sans serif typeface, including the unfortunately ubiquitous Arial and the soon-to-be unfortunately ubiquitous Calibri (the default typeface in Micro$oft Office 2007). However, as a sans serif face it's extraordinarily easy to misuse to excess.