It’s raining books up in here. What makes physical content like CDs worth having (let alone paying for)?
Roger CortonSo I hear you had a bit of an accident?
JCHPretty freaky. So I’m sitting at one end of the house and I hear these sounds coming from the living room.
JCHI thought I was at a bowling alley. I heard this rumble, snap, rumble, snap and then BLBPOWLBLBLAMBLAMPPPOOOWOWW… followed by an after-rumble.
JCHWindstorm. The house shifts just a few millimeters and that’s all it takes. During which, this six foot bookshelf collapsed, spilling a few hundred books everywhere.
RCSo no one hurt?
JCHNo. And that’s the minor miracle. Directly underneath I had my double bass and three acoustic guitars. And, I dunno how, but… not a scratch on any of them. They were surrounded by books, buried in books. Big books. Tomes one might say. But no musical instruments were harmed in the course of making this disaster.
JCHBut here’s sort of the joke. About an hour before that, I had gotten a really tiny book in the post; maybe six ounces. And I just put it on the book case to look at later.
RCYou’re implying that that book was like Jenga?
JCHRight. Like that fat guy at the restaurant in Monty Python’s Meaning Of Life.
RCA wafer thin mint…
JCHAnd then the explosion!
RCOK, not that this isn’t fascinating but why is this worth posting about?
JCHGlad you asked. So what does one do when all the books are on the floor? Ya start looking at ’em and getting all nostalgic, right? So naturally it started making me me wonder…
RCIs the universe trying to tell you it’s time for a garage sale?
JCHWhat is worth saving? Most of the books were those massive coffee-table jobs, Kandinsky prints, old-style maps, references like Shakespeare, Mencken, etc.
RCHeavy reading, dude.
JCHUm, right… The thing is, a friend helped me get a ‘tablet’ a couple of months ago. My rheumatism is making it tough to hold heavy books for long periods.
RCI didn’t realize it was quite that bad.
JCHIt’s odd. Some things are no problem. For example, nine out of ten fingers twiddle as quickly as ever. But certain things you wouldn’t expect; like holding a book up are starting to be a drag. Anyhoo, I do think the universe is suggesting that I consider ‘what is worth saving?’
RCA deep question. I can hear David Carradine off in the distance playing the Shakuhachi.
JCHSeriously. Like I said most of these books are reference works that you can’t get on a tablet and even if you could they would just suck. But a lot of those books are sentimental items; books given to me as gifts or books that I just really dig.
RCSo how sentimental are you feeling about that last gift? The straw that broke the camel’s back?
JCHOh I’m sure I’ll laugh about it someday. But as I was saying, I’m pondering what makes ‘content’ intrinsically valuable. I mean, I’d think nothing of spending $30 on a Shakespeare reference. But I kinda expected the ‘eBook’ to be $3.00. So my point is, why is a CD worth $15 and a dozen MP3s -not-?
RCOr more to the point, what makes your CD worth $15? Is there something you can do to the ‘box’ to make what is inside worth paying for?
JCHIndeed. Although it’s more than just a ‘wrapper’. A good book isn’t just a ‘wrapper’ for content. It’s part of the experience of reading. I’ve read a lot of psychology/behavioural economics stuff to try and understand it.
RCLike ‘Predictably Irrational’ by Dan Ariely. Great book. And you’re right; a book and a CD are different. It’s harder to make the case that, er, ‘the case’ adds much value to the listening.
JCHThat is a great book. And you’ve hit the nail on the head. We’re gonna do a conversation on ‘sales’ soon and I’m thinking more and more about why CDs still, by far, provide the most sales revenue for artists of all stripes.
JCHIt isn’t even close. And I doubt that digital downloads will approach CD sales for quite some time. There is still something intrinsic to possession; even if the ‘wrapper’ doesn’t add that much to the having.
RCNot sure I know what you mean.
JCHI think the packaging for an iPhone is critical. It makes people feel extra squishy about the initial tryout. But after that? Into the bin it goes. Maybe a CD is like that. I dunno. LPs certainly weren’t like that for me.
RCMe neither. I’ve still got lots of LPs I never listen to. But I like having them around. Maybe that’s your point. In any case, so now what?
JCHNow? Now I gotta decide which books to keep. Which to donate. It’s easy to say, “I’ll just keep the reference stuff and dump the rest.”
RCBold move. Clean break. Out-Zens David Carradine.
JCHCool. Really how many times am I gonna re-read ‘A History Of Salt’ or ‘Development Of The Personal Household In The Medieval Europe’. But still (sigh).
RCYou’re a sentimental old cuss.
JCHOK, I lied. The ones I think I’ll have the most trouble letting go are my signed first editions of Little Women.
RCYou’re kidding, right?
RCThe fact that you have to even ask is slightly disturbing.