Used books and money left on the street

I have to get something off my chest that has bothered me for quite some time. To start I have to mention that my cousin wrote the fantastic book “Albtraum Sicherheit - Interessen und Geschäfte hinter der Sicherheitspolitik” (nightmare security – interests and business behind the politics of security). The book was available on Amazon from day one and also from day one there were offers for € 0,99 cents of used copies of the book. Leaving the question aside where those used copies came from I want to focus on a more capitalistic aspect of those used books.

Let’s suppose a book costs € 12.99 on the day it is published. Right next to it, Amazon allows a third party store to sell used books. These used books typically start at € 0.99 + € 3.00 shipping.

Why does the used book seller not operate with the following equation in mind:

  € 12.99 cost of the new book
- €   3.00 shipping
- €   3.90 (30% discount towards the price of the new book, assumed a mint condition)
————
€  6.09

This means that even with a 30% discount towards the original price of the book the used book seller could have a 5 times higher revenue to the tune of € 6.09 – € 0.99 = € 5.10

Can someone please explain to me, how it makes sense financially to leave this money on the table? You would still undercut the new version of the book. You would not even have to share the extra revenue with the author or the publisher (which I personally think is a shame, but that’s a different story).

Please leave a comment to get me to understand the thinking behind this!

Mission Backup Earth wins in 4 categories at LA Webfest 2014

I’m so proud of the team behind Mission Backup Earth, a journey that has begun a couple of years ago and developed into an international collaboration success!

The awards go to

Alexander Pfander – outstanding director in a science fiction / fantasy series

Gregor Tallig – outstanding camera in a science fiction / fantasy series

Tony Pinkpank – outstanding special / visual effects in a science fiction / fantasy series

Hannu Hoffren – outstanding editing in a science fiction / fantasy series

Congratulations guys!

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Computing power and processors in reality

Today I was wondering how fast my old MacPro (my main production machine) really is compared to the MacMini that I recently bought. And here are the results:

MacPro 3,1 2.8GHz XEON 8-Core vs MacMini 6,2 2.3Ghz i7 4-Core

Now I’m not the biggest hardware geek but I do understand that architectures vary quite a bit and have a substantial influence over computing performance. But a 6 year old machine beating a 2 year old machine by such a big margin may be part of the reason why hardware development feels stalled: We have reached machines that are incredibly powerful.

Granted: for real-time things such as music production we would still like to squeeze every CPU cycle that we can, but hey: at least in my case I still get by with that machine and it doesn’t slow me down too much.

 

Victory

The morse code for the letter “V” is dot dot dot dash or …-

Morse code was created around 1840.

And now think of Beethovens 5th Symphony, created 1808.

Surveillance and free human beings

In the past couple of weeks we’ve seen where peoples’ desire for security will lead us: to the surveillance state, as has been revealed by the publication of PRISM.

For me personally it takes me back a bit to what happened surrounding the introduction of the SOPA and ACTA bills. Back then, if you remember, “the whole internet”™ went into an uproar unlike anything ever seen in the technology world. Google went black. Wikipedia went black. Reddit went black. The world pretty much ended according to people who are more than interested in removing any individual rights that may be in the way of the tech industry moving forwards.

Where is the outrage now? Where are the demonstrations now? Where is the political youth opposing this surveillance and promoting a free civilized society based on the rule of law? Unfortunately they are nowhere and here are my thoughts about why:

In the case of the copyright debate the primary reason for the outcry was, just as many colleagues had suspected all along, purely about the filesharing aspect of the privacy debate. None of the true political implications that came along with it. And all the talk about privacy and surveillance state and the likes where smokescreens in order to justify taking away the rights (and by extension the ability to monetize their works) of millions of authors in order to personally not be liable for watching TV series, movies and listening to music without paying for it. Because, in no way would copyright lead to what this article in the guardian talks about and I share a quick quote:

Lavabit has been told that they would face serious criminal sanctions if they publicly discuss what is being done to their company. Thus we get hostage-message-sounding missives like this:

I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on – the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.”

I have been of both sides of the copyright debate: when Napster came out I was just starting out in the industry and felt like the industry kept me out by design. I was happy that something “interrupted them” and “put them in their place” and defended it.

But after slowly making my way into the industry and starting to actually understand how the industry works, how the different institutions function (many of whom I still don’t agree with, but that doesn’t warrant taking away their right to exist!!) and what the struggle being a media creator supporting a family really means, but first and foremost: that the only thing I, as a media creator, have to sell is a license, I have felt the attacks of the copyleft movement to be intimately personal, vile and solely aimed at taking away my possibility to monetize my work. And for musicians and composers who don’t see the media industry as a “late teen/early twenties let’s form a band and play some cool parties for our friends” but as a way of making business with each other and who have spent countless hours practicing, studying, throwing away sketches, being unsatisfied with ideas (in short: artists struggle) it’s not quite as possible to just switch gears and work for a consultancy or social media consultancy company.

A lot of us (media creators) went into this field exactly because it is not possible for us or not desirable to live the kind of life where you have to give up a lot of your own personality and convictions in order to actively be popular and appeal to market interests. We’re all forced by market interests, that I understand. But there’s a difference with sticking to what you believe in and relinquishing it in order to “not offend”!

Authors rights have given individuals the freedom to live their dreams, to break away from trodden paths, in essence to be truly free human beings. And that is, at least to me, the ultimate goal and worth fighting for.