Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

B&N Argument(was Re: Opening Up Linux Journal and O'Reilly)

Author:Scott Sweeney
Posted:8/25/1999; 10:39:46 AM
Topic:Opening Up Linux Journal and O'Reilly
Msg #:9861 (In response to 9840)
Prev/Next:9860 / 9862

I think that Open Source advocates for books and magazines could use the Barnes and Noble model as a great argument for their case.

I love Barnes and Noble. It's like a library, except the books are current, there's a better assortment of choices, and their chairs and cafes are very comfortable. I run there if I can't find an answer to a programming problem or for some other accurate information that I can't dig out of the web. The information in books tends to be better organized( a familiar fashion), easier to search through, and of higher quality than the web(...since most good authors are published in paper), so answers are usually easier to find. I mostly do not end up buying the books or magazines I read, but I have bought some. Especially the ones that I really like or find very helpful.

I believe that Barnes and Noble's environment of welcoming people to read their books is one of the reasons for their success. They are selling books, even though anyone can go to a B&N to read it comfortably, and at most hours. Why?

I've heard that the average consumer is becoming a pickier consumer and are more reluctant to purchase blindly. When they find quality, they don't mind making the purchase since their value on the book is higher than the price. However, another possibility that does not support the open source model is that the consumer will just get sick of driving to B&N to read it. If it is freely distributed on the web, the convienience cost is much less, and consumers may not pay for the content as readily as before. This could lead into a discussion of micropayments, but that can come later...

This model doesn't relate to the living document concept that open source is also based upon, but I feel that this model could help convince companies that, while quality is emphasized much more, there is still some profitabilty models in making their content freely available..with the option to purchase ;)

Scott Sweeney

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