Tuesday, August 20, 2013

dead trees


DEAD TREES

Yesterday afternoon I’m waiting for a donation at one of my grocery stores, which in this one is at the front door next to the newspaper racks ( most places I wait out of sight in the receiving area ).  I happen to notice a notice stating that the price of our local fish wrapper is increasing from 75 cents to a buck in X amount of days.  Now, the Reno paper is a buck or buck twenty-five, whatever, but you can understand that because of the transportation issue.  Not that I ever buy the Reno ( the Las Vegas paper has not been offered up here as long as I’ve lived here, although Starbucks carries the New York Post ) paper because the thing is a sodden piece of offal.  The local paper isn’t all that bad.  They cover regional news rather well.  You just have to factor in that that news is always a day or three behind.  News from out of state is even worse, almost as if the west bound train was still delivering the latest happenings from back East.  But as decent as the local paper is, seventy-five cents is a little steep for its thickness ( or lack thereof ).  A buck is just stupid.  On those off days where little happens I’d feel like a complete rub for having bought it at that price, as if I’d just wandered into New York City from Hayseed Nebraska and a nice Brooklyn gentleman sold me a once in a lifetime investment opportunity in a bridge.

*

As I was loading up my donation and I was talking to the store help, she mentioned the local paper had ceased printing operations here locally about six months ago and had farmed that out to a facility north up in Idaho.  I had no idea.  I mean, in a way it makes sense.  You own three or five papers, none making all that much money because you no longer make much on classified ads, and since you just rehash AP news rather than have boots on the ground anywhere which means your product is a piece of crap no one much cares about anymore, the only way to make money is to shut down two out of three presses and pay the transportation costs.  In a traditional cheap oil economy this makes sense.  So I guess these idiot business owners think $107 a barrel oil is just a short time blip.  If X, Y or Z is done than we can get back to gushing cheap oil and all I have to do is hold on til then.  Never mind that this short term blip is going on six years now.  I mean, how embarrassing can you get.  Or, and I think this is more likely, there is another motivation entirely here.  The local paper wants you to stop buying dead tree copies and go to their online version.  They moved the printing KNOWING the transportation cost would be insane.  They are having the old paper reading geriatric dinosaurs subsidize the bottom line.  If you use dead trees, it is now a luxury and you will be charged accordingly.

*

I see the same thing at Amazon, although I don’t believe it is intentional or evil.  As Bazos says, and I tend to believe him, the Kindle sales overtaking paper sales was totally unforeseen.  For all those talking heads wondering why Amazon bought the Washington paper, after the CEO claimed paper papers would all be extinct in twenty years, it isn’t much of a mystery.  Amazon bought a brand and I have no doubt they will push the Kindle version and price the paper version as a luxury item.  He wouldn’t have bought a newspaper prior to the success of Kindle.  But now that the way is clear, you follow profit with investment.  All the books that Amazon sells by third parties has been under somewhat the same pressure.  Not too many years ago you could buy used or new paper books, on average, at about half what they are now.  You are definitely seeing the increased cost of dead trees ( both the decrease in supply for increased demand for paper, and the associated delivery and manufacture costs ).  The trend is that the consumer pay for the reading device and the content provider pays for almost nothing physical ( kind of like my books have always been ).  More and more publishers will be virtual and more and more paper will be the higher consumer cost but zero inventory Print On Demand.

*

Back in the Seventies when energy costs exploded, the basic strategy used was to lower paper quality and jam a lot more ink on each page.  Then, wasteful pukes during the Nineties went all stupid and had huge thick books covering retarded subjects with almost no words on each page.  All fluff.  They tried to generalize reading, thinking if the content reflected daytime TV talk shows everyone would start reading.  No luck there.  After that business model cost too many quarterly bonuses the new way is to punish the reader for wanting to read.  Now you are spending more on content as all the micro-niches are being once again filled, and being asked to provide the means to read the words.  Notice how close a lot of Kindle and paper books are in cost.  A Kindle version is $10, the paper $12.  The publisher pretends you are saving the $4 shipping cost so he claims the e-version is barely over half the price.  You are supposed to forget the difference in profit margins.  And you are supposed to forget your infrastructure cost to read the book.  I love books, so it pains me most publishers are out to screw me.  It taints the whole book love experience.  Also, as an aside, totally unrelated except for getting screwed and engineering behavior , I have a new and updated thought on ObammyCare.  I think the motivation, besides an insurance ( banker ) industry bailout and increased taxes ( the fines ) for the fedgov, is an actual effort to decrease health care participation.  As all costs skyrocket for the consumer, LESS care will be sought.  A way to triage an ailing industry- artificially decrease demand.  Bastards.

END

 

 

 

26 comments:

  1. Try half.com. It is an offshoot of ebay.com and has a vast supply of pre-owned books, though not necessarily all of the newer ones. I've used it for years

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    1. Do they beat the used market at Amazon?

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    2. Normally yes...just watch your shipping costs.

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  2. Lord Bison of the Great Basin and King of Coiffure;

    Spot on yet again about the reason why printed materials of anything more than a pamphlet are going the way of the dodo. The increased transportation costs of moving large amounts of newspapers, periodicals and printed books are simply squeezing the little guys out to the margins, to the point that even the big boys of North American Printing are feeling the pressure to convert their current offerings in electronic e-reader formats. This will have many, many unintended consequences as the world transitions further into collapse and information itself becomes a luxury. However another reason why paper itself is becoming rarer is the intense amounts of energy in the production and recycling of the material. However another unforeseen consequence of the drive to produce economical e-reader devices so that most if not all can afford them, like mobile telecommunications devices, is driving up rare-earth costs (gold, sliver platinum, palladium, et al) so that even a functioning illiterate in Africa or South America can have instant gratification communicating with grandma on the far side of the hemisphere. Soon (like now) the economic costs of this mad drive to exhaust the globe's finite supply of mineral wealth with soon overlap the environmental costs, placing us into the perfect storm of related crises which will move all of us past the point of no return. Solutions? I think not, other than to brace for impact. Keep, keeping it real James!

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    1. I thought the Jap tsunami would have really screwed up the flash drive market, but not really. Not sure how much personal devices will use up resources. The Third World is just trying to eat. Chindia is better off than us economically ( for now-they steal oil share from us but when the downslop starts in earnest they dive behind us ) so I'd think the next country to see being priced out of the handheld mobile market would be the US. Economic meltdown solves a lot of environmental issues.

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  3. Good points about the 'printed' word. They will carbon-tax printed works out of existence in the not-too-distant future.

    Printed books, stored in a dry environment, would be an excellent item to stockpile. Not just for armageddon, but because they may become valuable sooner than you think. You would hate to kick yourself in 20 years for not buying 25 cent garage sale books now.

    Also - I love to read the comments here but some commenters need to break their screed into paragraphs. Much easier to read. Thank you in advance.

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    1. Not sure if "carbon-tax" is anything much more than boogeyman here. Europe of course is differant. I think they will just free market price it to death. Of course, you can do something besides carbon tax to tax paper and we'll never know-like all the cig or beer taxes.

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  4. I believe you are correct on the Obamacare. My guess they intend to charge everyone and give out very little coverage. The numbers kinda show the services in place will be swamped and most people will never get in anyway.

    As for the ebook thing I must say despite cost that you would be a proponent of them. Entertainment books would be useless of course without cheap energy as no one would have the time to care but how to and instructional books need to be on paper or they die when the device dies.

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    1. Oh, I'm all for paper books. The Kindle is great for entertainment. As soon as I want something for a referance, I go paper.

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  5. I wish that you still published a "newsletter", but the blog is actually a much better vehicle for you to deliver your edicts, Lord Bison.

    For smaller town news, I like using www.patch.com (part of AOL), but I realize that they do not have coverage of Elko, Nevada...so I no longer consider that website worth visiting.

    ***DISCLAIMER***

    I do not live in Elko, Nevada. However, I take all of my orders from there, so Patch.com can go suck an egg.

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    1. No idea who/what Patch is. I don't get out much, even with the Interweb.

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  6. Nobody knows what the publishing world will be like in 6 months -including those in the business. Just met with some writers and publishers at a convention. Some are pretending the last 30 years never happened. Others are daydreamers. About a third just want to ride this puppy into the ground for a far as it'll go.

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    1. Even though I know everything, I will concede I'm always off on the timing.

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  7. Newspapers need to start putting out toilet paper editions, they will have a captive audience sort of that will at least glance at their paper before it is finally put to good use.

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    1. Since we can't afford fish, even the radioactive stuff, the paper has outlived that function. And few of us have birds in cages. So how about this? Apocalypse TP! Sure, it will be rigid and faded, but still an absorbant paper and then at least you recycled.

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  8. So much wisdom, so little time. A boring Sunday, combined with a useable Kindle, inadvertently lead me to ... a picture book of a big titties Japanese chick. Later I found the Lord Bison. Book publishing, like most dinosaurs, is going to wait around until an asteroid hits NYC.

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    1. I hope you mean later as in the same day. If I followed buxomly Asian gals I am honored. Publishing will always be with us, but I think the publishing for the masses is over with and they don't know it. They can downsize. I think PrintOnDemand is the first step getting rid of huge machines and wasting paper and the old business model drying up ( no more returns/remainders,etc. ).

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  9. Nightshift here.....with my gig as a campus police I was able to build quite a library of outdated and sometimes damaged but readable books on all kinds of subjects....medical, history, engineering, trades, sciences.....The bookstore would give them away. Good article Boss.

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    1. Thank you. My third marriage I was living near a used book store that carried a bunch of 30's and 40's era tech/trade books. I bought a butt load and had my spare room turned office with a wall filled with them ( buckets and boards for the shelves ). When I ran screaming fleeing from her she got all them. I miss her cooking and those books.

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  10. Lord Bison of the Great Basin and King of Coiffure;

    This just in dear minions; it seems that the USGS just put out a warning for the West Coast, stating that the number of small earthquakes in the 3.2 magnitude range have been detected from the Salton Sea, near the International Border with Mexico all the way north into the far Cascade Range. According to the warning, the chances of a major event have increased exponentially, stay tuned! Keep, keeping it real James!

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    1. CRAP!!!! More Cali refugees on the way. Unless the bastard floats free of the mainland. Hmmmmm. Isn't there a Super-Duper Volcano right around there? Or is it too far east?

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  11. The "Dead Tree" title had me thinking you were going tree-hugger on us.

    Have you ever read Michelle Widgen's But Not For Long? It is in Wisconson and is a sort of left leaning (but not a screaming polemic) slow collapse novel. Better written then most, the main reason I bring it up is that one of the main characters (a point of view character) works at a local food bank with a position a lot like yours.

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    1. I believe it was you that recommended it to me before. I did buy it, in dead tree form, and enjoyed it. Not our genre at all, but a good general read with a whisper of collapse. I do listen.

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  12. Keep buying the dead tree version of entertainment books too.
    You might think that you wont have any time for such things into the collapse, but chances are you WILL, at times, be left without chore or imminent threat - or electricity to spare for games/videos/ebooks.
    Thats when the books (and cards with company) come out. Plus they will be able to offer future generations a look at our mindset behind our sillier behaviors, possibly allowing them to choose a different or at least better informed path.

    -Grey

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    1. I'm lucky our local bookstore makes its money selling chick author suspence and vampires, so they have a good used selection at good prices AND discards are only one thin dime. I have bags and bags of popular fiction. Both post-apoc entertainment, AND then toilet paper if needed.

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