Friday, 6 June 2008

Instant gratification

Isn't being able to satisfy immediately an impulse to own something supposed to be what the Interweb, nay modern life itself, is all about? So I wish that people would stop the old-style marketing model where they built up a buzz about something which isn't at the time available. I'm sure it worked great when people were used to having to wait to get into a physical shop and find the 7-inch vinyl they were after on the singles shelves, but it's frustrating these days. Cory Doctorow talks sensibly about it here, in the context of books, and how it's only worth while putting them up for free if the user can immediately pay for it if they want to: "Internet users have short attention spans. The moment of consummation — the moment when a reader discovers your book online, starts to read it, and thinks, huh, I should buy a copy of this book — is very brief. That's because "I should buy a copy of this book" is inevitably followed by, 'Woah, a youtube of a man putting a lemon in his nose!' and the moment, as they say, is gone."

It's the problem with hardbacks too. The hardbacks are what get reviewed, but I don't like the format, and I'm not going to spend more money on something that's physically harder to read and takes more space on my shelf. (Unless it's something I can't bear to wait to read, and then I flip it on ebay, not that flip is quite the right term since I obviously lose money rather than making it.) So I used to cut out interesting newspaper reviews and stick them on my wall, where they would go all yellow and crinkly until they eventually fell apart. Whoever invented Amazon's wishlist is a genius; now every Saturday when I read the Guardian review, and once a month when I get the Literary Review, I put the interesting things on that, in the forthcoming paperback edition if it's already up on their database, and I imagine amazon make quite a bit of money off me that way -- I use it as a reference tool and buy books elsewhere if they're cheaper but often amazon is the straightforward option. I just checked and I have 297 items on it. Obviously I'm never going to buy them all.

So either record people should stop letting one hear stuff in advance or itunes needs to have a wishlist and put forthcoming releases on their database to be flagged. There's loads of stuff I would have paid 79p for at the time happily, but found I couldn't, and so the moment passed. I was going to make a list, but then I realised I had forgotten most of it, which proves my point.

Important PS: the Literary Review is giving away a free trial edition in digital format here; I think though that it's only to do with digital distribution not the paper sort. I think I'd advise a trip to Smiths or Borders instead to get a paid-for copy of the real thing. Which goes to show I'm not as right above as I thought I was. Heigh ho.

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