On 5/16/06, Bill Guindon <agorilla / gmail.com> wrote:
> On 5/16/06, Giles Bowkett <gilesb / gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > For all the emotion involved, the reality is that in every field,
> > illegal downloads have an effect on sales. The effect is to increase
> > sales for niche players and decrease sales for mainstream players.
> > This has been found with movies and with music, so it's probably the
> > case for code as well. Java is the mainstream player, and Rails is the
> > niche. Irrespective of any passionate but utterly futile moral
> > debates, the ultimate economic result of this phenomenon is good for
> > anybody selling Rails books, including David Black.
>
> I agree that it works that way, I just don't agree with the
> perspective that you're viewing it from.  What if you change the scope
> from 'books about all programming languages' to 'books about ruby
> and/or rails'?  In the world of Ruby, and Rails, David Black is hardly
> a 'niche player'.

Yes, actually, he is. The mainstream book is Agile Web Dev with Rails.
"Ruby for Rails" appeals to people who actually take the time to
figure out what they're doing in intricate detail so they can do it
much better than average. Unfortunately, such people will always be a
niche, by definition.

> It might help to own a copy of 'Ruby for Rails' to understand why I
> think that way.  I'm about half way through it, and I highly recommend
> that all Ruby users _buy_ a copy.  It's an excellent book, and helps
> build a stronger understanding of Ruby in general (ie: it's _not_ just
> for Rails users).

I do own a copy, as it happens. I bought both the PDF and the physical
edition, which I am looking forward to receiving. It is indeed a very
good book.

But I do not think the quality of the book makes any difference.

Downloads are reshaping copyright, and this is very emotional for some
people. I am not one of those people. I don't care. I just look at the
numbers and make rational decisions. The numbers are very clearly in
Dr. Black's favor. Illegal downloads increase sales for niche players.

All these moral arguments are empty words -- full of sound and fury,
signifying nothing. The reason is simple: illegal downloads of your
book will give you a better reputation and better sales. When people
are improving a man's reputation and increasing his sales, telling
those people that they are doing that man harm is not entirely
logical.

> I guess it comes down to who is a niche player, and personally, I
> don't think it's right to use that subjective decision to determine
> that it's ok to download any author's pdf, because I think they're a
> niche player, and by downloading it, I'm going to help them down the
> road.

I really don't think it has anything to do with who is or isn't a
niche player. The reason illegal downloads in music hurt mainstream
artists and help everybody else is because mainstream artists suck.
The music is designed to get in your head and stay there irresistibly
for six weeks, after which time it disappears from your consciousness
forever. The sales for these fools fall off because their whole
business model is based on planned obsolescence and marketing
oversaturation -- in short, because their product is crap. You can see
similar things happening with Tom Cruise movies. Dr. Black's product
is not crap, so this danger is a nonissue for him.

-- 
Giles Bowkett
http://www.gilesgoatboy.org