Jun

12

cafehayek.com today has a very complimentary comment on W.J.,  who I assume was Stefan's father.

The comment is from Russell Roberts; it is dated June 11 and is a quote from Mark Helprin.

The back story is that Dad gave Helprin the equivalent of a 3-picture deal in one of Dad's vain attempts to give his Trade Department some cachet. It failed. Dad would not have agreed with Helprin's comment about his publishing contemporaries - i.e. "(u)nlike many of his shallow counterparts." Dad never thought the people in publishing were "shallow". He thought they were, if anything, too subtle to be any good at simple commerce. I can understand the reason for Helprin's back-handed compliment; nobody has ever given him anything close to the money that Dad did.

The comments on death are equally overwrought: "(it) gives to our lives, no matter how glorious, a signature in a minor key". Dad had scarlet fever when he was 6 and spent the next 2 years in bed (where he read all of Dickens). He had his first heart attack when he was 33; he died of a final infarction (his 8th cardiac episode), brought on by kidney failure, when he was almost 80. He never thought mortality was a subject worth considering.

Vitaliy Katsenelson writes:

California's push for e-text books will do the same as WMT did for RFID industry, it will legitimize it and provide scale (Caligornia governor seeks online revolution in schools).

Jeff Sasmor objects:

Probably true, but Texas is the elephant in the K-12 textbook market IIRC.

Stefan Jovanovich explains:

Texas is the elephant because the books that that state adopts can also be sold in Nebraska and South Carolina and even a blue state like Rhode Island. We in the Golden State have had so many special requirements (because of our obvious superiority) that the publishers have had to make special editions. Since the central truth of manufacturing remains the same even in such a rarified business as publishing aka printing (every extra unit sold without retooling is pure profit), CA's push for e-text books could only be compared to WMT's adoption of RFID if WMT had required that every signal include a hologram of Sam and his brother, the bomber pilot. The problem with e-texts is that customer do not feel they have any obligation to pay for anything that is purely "intellectual property". Jeff Bezos is clever enough to have figured out that customers need Kindles so they can tell themselves it is worth the money to pay for the special formatted manuscript. Eventually, he will have to price the reader the way King Gillette priced his razors.


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