A Most Delightful Time Warp

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 12:33:27 +0000

Paul Krugman begins his column today, "Bits, Bands and Books," with an interesting question:

Do you remember what it was like back in the old days when we had a New Economy? In the 1990s, jobs were abundant, oil was cheap and information technology was about to change everything.

Sure I remember the 1990s. In addition to the things listed above, we had Paul Krugman writing insightful and witty books and articles about economics. I don't know if it will last, but we have that Paul Krugman back today. I particularly liked these paragraphs near the end:

Indeed, if e-books become the norm, the publishing industry as we know it may wither away. Books may end up serving mainly as promotional material for authors’ other activities, such as live readings with paid admission. Well, if it was good enough for Charles Dickens, I guess it’s good enough for me.

Now, the strategy of giving intellectual property away so that people will buy your paraphernalia won’t work equally well for everything. To take the obvious, painful example: news organizations, very much including this one, have spent years trying to turn large online readership into an adequately paying proposition, with limited success.

But they’ll have to find a way. Bit by bit, everything that can be digitized will be digitized, making intellectual property ever easier to copy and ever harder to sell for more than a nominal price. And we’ll have to find business and economic models that take this reality into account.

Read the whole thing!