- Unlike the stereotypical law professor, I don't play hide the ball under the guise of "soft Socratic dialogue" (whatever the hell that means). I'll be right up front and note that there is a common
alligatorissue lurking under this publishing smorgasbord for the cold-blooded: The antitrust problems created and perpetuated by the current returns and distribution system.
- A publishing insider goes Dickens without understanding what Dickens meant (that hindsight is flawed and that change is inevitable) after trying (rather unsuccessfully, with a year's hindsight) to opt out of returnability;
- An e-book proprietor (no vested interest here!) claims that the future is e-books, while
- A (supposed) publishing "insider" (with hefty speaking fees) offers the usual nonspecific "predictions" that ensure that no matter what actually happens, he'll be right,
- An actual publishing "insider" the president of FS&G appears to believe that once out of print, forever out of print, and that's good for everyone... which necessarily assumes 1940s-style intensive (and extensive) editorial attention that no longer exists in contemporary publishing, and
- A leading old-school literary agent whose own fingers are in the e-book pie remarks that despite publishers' attempts to treat e-rights as nonseparable from print rights, e-rights will be licensed separately;
- UK "independent" booksellers claim that "discounting" is a significant threat to them, which actually begs the underlying question of what a cover price actually means in an era of returnable books.
Under traditional antitrust law, "trade custom" is not exempt from scrutiny (it's called "conscious parallelism"). Only with the Reagan-era evisceration of the experienced staff at the FTC and DOJ Antitrust Divisions who, even at the supposed height of their powers, rejected three times as many actions as they even began administrative process upon has it seemed to escape notice. That, however, is a rather utopian view itself. It's one thing entirely for me to reject a trade custom as bad for everyone involved (except, perhaps, the middlecreatures); it's another thing entirely to assume as most people do that there is no collateral damage/civilian casualty count in getting from unacceptable point A to quasiutopian point B.
- Of course, that particular antitrust problem is not limited to publishing; it is endemic in entertainment. It's not about creating the product; it's about distributing it (and getting paid), whether we're concerned with feature-length film (especially intelligence-insultingly bad comedies), cable TV, broadcast TV, recorded music, musical performance (whether "classical" or "popular"), whatever even fine art and cultural artifacts.
- The Lord Chancellor intends to perform a long-overdue review of England's libel laws. From my perspective, it's a simple matter of customary international law: The UK courts simply do not have jurisdiction, under relatively well-accepted principles of international jurisdiction, in many of the most-outrageous cases (e.g., Rachel Ehrenfeld)... but courts in the UK are notoriously loathe to deny their own jurisdiction. In turn, that means that US courts should deny enforcement of judgments... but US courts have become increasingly loathe to refuse enforcement of judgments.
- A professor at Hope College warns that a PhD in the humanities probably will lead only to a better-educated career in the restaurant industry... and fails to recognize that that would be an improvement for an MFA in writing (because they usually don't get the better-educated part)...
- An article on protest music and culture has some interesting descriptive history, but fails to ask the underlying normative question: "What constitutes protest?" (or, to put it another way, "What the hell are we fighting for/against?"). The underlying premise of the article is consistent with a piece in Esquire that argues that free elections are the foundation of economic development without noting that economic development in Europe sure as hell didn't require any elections that we'd recognize as "free" today.
04 January 2010
Post-Holiday Sausage Platter
at 12:15 [UTC8]
Somewhat overdue post-holiday sausages... and, as much as nobody really wants to watch any sausage being made, you really don't want to understand how these were made. And stored. And shipped to you.