Search This Blog

Monday, April 22, 2013

Indie Publishing

Apple's iPod was released in the fall of 2001 and Amazon's kindle was released in the fall of 2007.  Those releases not only added another way of accessing content from the consumer's standpoint, but also rapidly accelerated the metamorphosis of content production, distribution, and consumption, affecting everyone involved.

One important aspect of the transformation is that it is a huge enabler for creating and publishing independent ("indie") content.  The physical CD, tape or record for music, and the physical book were substantial obstacles to independent song-writers and authors.  They cost money to produce, money to ship, money to find places to display and sell, and were expensive to produce in small quantities.  While it was possible to download music and books over the Internet to a computer before the release of the iPod and kindle, it was clunky and limiting.

I've been interested in indie publishing of music ever since I originally produced my two albums.  They were produced before the release of the iPod.  They each costs thousands of dollars to record and produce.  The ultimate "product" was 1,000 CDs of each, a few hundred of which are still sitting in my attic (I've since uploaded them to last.fm (here and here) where they are available for free).  Producing those same albums would've cost one-tenth as much and taken half the time with today's technology.

There have been a lot of songs published at this point.  For example, there are currently more than 25 million songs available from iTunes alone.  There are possibly approaching 100 million published songs worldwide representing a good fraction of a billion minutes of listening enjoyment (for comparison, we only live about 40 million minutes).

The related milestone of interest is that iTunes recently sold its 25 billionth song and the math here should be a bit scary for any song-writer hoping to make money creating music.  While 25 billion songs is a lot of songs, it's only an average of 1,000 sales per song.  At 99 cents per song, that's an average revenue of less than $1,000 per song.

The revenue per song will likely drop and drop rapidly.  Music tastes don't change very rapidly and songs have a pretty long shelf life.  There are now multiple songs published per minute and with each new song, the number of ears per song drops.  This, more than anything else, will force nearly all recorded music to be offered for free within the next few decades.

Fortunately, a song-writer/musician can make money performing.  A major act performing in a large venue generates revenues of millions of dollars per show.  Unknown groups can still sometimes get a toehold playing clubs and parties.  In some sense, the recorded music for these groups acts as marketing and advertising and has value to the artists even if no revenue is generated from sales of the recorded music.

It looks to me like the book industry is a decade or two behind the music industry but following the same trajectory.  Here's a quick excerpt to put it in perspective:

That means it’s possible that 15,000,000 books could be published in 2012. 15,000,000. Yikes. (The truth is, though, there is no way of extrapolating from the data how many books will actually be published. Some ISBNs don’t get used, some titles have a different ISBN for every edition, and some ebooks are published without ISBNs. As a frame of reference, 407,000 ISBNs were issued in 2007.)) 
Google estimates that as of August 2010, there were 129,864,880 books in existence. Which means that the total number of books that could be published in 2012 is more than 1/10 of all the books in existence. That is an unfathomable jump, a 500% increase in a single year.

Furthermore, contemplate that Project Gutenberg already has more than 42,000 free books in their digital library and are releasing dozens more per day.  They pick the most popular classics of all time so they alone can keep the most avid reader quite entertained, for free, forever.

Just like ears per song, the number of eyes per word is plummeting.  Just like music, the vast majority of novels will eventually be free due to overwhelming market forces.

Unlike music, the novelist has one advantage that the song-writer does not.  The novelist can write a sequel whereas music rarely has a compelling order.  Once a reader is 'hooked' on the first free book, the novelist can earn money from all of the books in the rest of the series.  For example, even if Rowling was unable to charge for Harry Potter 1, she certainly would've been able to make good money from the other 6 books.


I only read books (for entertainment) that have sequels.  Once I put effort in to learning the world and the characters, I want to know there's more.  Here’s my current book finding algorithm:

  1. Goto amazon kindle books
  2. Select genre of interest
  3. Select 4 stars or more average
  4. Sort low price to high price (at least the first several hundred books will be free)
  5. Ignore books with less than 20 reviews.
  6. Ignore books that aren’t the first in a series.
  7. Ignore books with titles that aren’t appealing (I’m not too picky).
  8. Ignore books with covers that aren’t appealing (I’m not too picky).


If I like the book, I'll buy the rest of the series.

This method has worked pretty well for me so far.  However, my current favorite SF/Fantasy series (the first in the series is Outcasts and Gods) I found by a different method.  The author (Pam Uphoff) made an insightful comment at a blog I read where many (most?) of the participants are authors.  I tracked down her books and I've really enjoyed them.  This is similar to how I found song-writer Jeff Shattuck.  With regards to the government takeover of GM, he wrote in a comment somewhere that "The Road to Serfdom is best traveled in a GM or Chrysler".

But, in the end, the huge volume of content being generated is going to make it very difficult for content providers to make money.  Content wants to be free!

35 comments:

Jeff Shattuck said...

I've been thinking about how music is a harbinger for books, but here's a big difference: the book publishing industry was able to establish DRM while music was not. Kindle books, for example, cannot be freely given away to other Kindle owners. Sure, you could crack the Kindle encryption, but that's a pain in the butt. Easier to pay a few bucks.

As for quantity, of course you're right, we have more music than we need. But we have more than we can use of just about everything. Besides, people want to discover and claim their own music. Your parents' music will always be just that, your parents', ie, not cool!

Bret said...

Jeff,

I'm saying ultimately DRM won't matter. For the vast majority of authors (and song-writers), if they want anybody to read their books (or listen to their songs), they'll have to make their works free. They can be DRM'd free, but free nonetheless.

15 million books (and songs!) per year. How is anybody going to compete?

As far a "your parents'" music goes, my kids listen to the Beatles and a lot of other groups that would be "their parents'" music. The "music of now" is that because it's performed live. That's where song-writer/musicians will make their money - performing live.

We'll see though. The question everybody has is why are 15 million books and songs produced every year (with even more over time) when it's beyond way obvious that virtually none of those works are going to make any money. If there's a huge pull back in what's produced, then I'll say, "okay, it was just a blip and sanity is returning". Otherwise, I'm going to claim that a huge number of humans are internally compelled to produce creative works and would not only be happy to have people read or listen to their works for free, but would be sorely tempted to pay people to read or listen to their works.

That's who I am.

matapam said...

Thanks for the mention.

Right now, writers are floundering around trying to figure out how to find the readers that will like their stuff, and readers are floundering around trying to find reading material that, at a minimum, is entertaining and doesn't have too many editing errors.

As a new, unknown writer, I'm floundering around, thinking my books are well edited, when they've got problems, redoing covers as I realize how horrible the original ones are. Learning experiences.

As a reader . . . I check the samples first. I take word of mouth recommendations. I agree with everything on your list except the number of reviews. If you want to discover new writers, you have to skip that. It's hard for new writers to build up enough readers that they start accumulating double digit reviews.

Pricing is another complete unknown. Some people load up on free books, and love the $0.99 books. Other people swear they won't touch anything under $4--clearly the writer doesn't think the work is any good.

However, as to going completely free . . . I don't think that can work with books. A musician can make money with live performances. An author hasn't got that option. There will always be a need for income from the books. AFAIK, the main platforms have options for writers to put their books up without DRM. This makes them much more accessible, and shareable.

I suspect that the main enemy of both writers and musicians is anonymity. _That_ is the barrier between part-time after the paying job, and full time dedication to the art and craft of our choice.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Bret;

As Scott Adams said on this subject -- "Pay people to talk? You can't pay them to shut up."

Bret said...

aog,

Adams is pretty funny when he's not ranting.

Hey Skipper said...

Just like ears per song, the number of eyes per word is plummeting. Just like music, the vast majority of novels will eventually be free due to overwhelming market forces.

Yes, but. As with other activities with huge rewards for first-past-the-post (I'm sure that's not the common term, but I can't remember what it is), in writing and music, there is very little that is very good.

Being at the 95th percentile for baseball skills makes one a pretty darn good baseball player, but not good enough to get paid for it.

My guess is that the elimination of barriers to publishing did not particularly increase the number writers and musicians performing at the truly professional level.

If so, then the exponential increase in quantity is almost all chaff that, in the pre-digital era, intermediaries separated for us.

Speaking purely anecdotally, I am spending much more money on music and books now than pre-iPod/Kindle.

With music, I can now get exactly, and only, what I want. In the five or so years prior to the iPod, I was spending $0 per year; since then, about $25.

As for books, I mostly used the library, and spent maybe $50 per year on books. Since getting a Kindle, then an iPad, I never go to the library and use book reviews as my filter. My spending on books has increased to about $400 per year.

Furthermore, contemplate that Project Gutenberg already has more than 42,000 free books in their digital library and are releasing dozens more per day. They pick the most popular classics of all time so they alone can keep the most avid reader quite entertained, for free, forever.

Perhaps, but language changes. P.G. Wodehouse is hilarious, as is Mark Twain. However, changes in setting and language make them, despite their excellence, very much a minority taste for modern readers.

As far a "your parents'" music goes, my kids listen to the Beatles and a lot of other groups that would be "their parents'" music.

A couple months ago I was in an ER with what was possibly H7N9. The ER doc, an early 30s Latina said "the Floyd is my favorite band".

And just a few weeks ago, my son asked me to send him my music library (all purchased).

So that's two data points from today's yoot.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "Being at the 95th percentile for baseball skills makes one a pretty darn good baseball player, but not good enough to get paid for it."

There's an overwhelming objective measure of success in baseball called "winning" and winning is strongly predictive of total fan support of the team and team revenue.

Objective measures are much, much weaker in song-writing and authoring. Once you get past more or less in-tune and sentence structure that is more or less decipherable, the rest is pretty much completely subjective. I've noticed in the realm of music that half the people can't really even tell if it's in-tune.

So I don't really think you can compare sports and art and that the line between "professional" and "non-professional" is really not distinct in the arts.

Hey Skipper wrote: "I ... use book reviews as my filter."

That's interesting. For me personally, the correlation between professional reviewers' "stars" or thumbs or whatever and whether or not I enjoy the reviewed item is zero. Correlation of amateur reviewers (like at Amazon) and my enjoyment seems to be way higher. I assume that's because I'm an amateur reader, not a trained literary critic. But almost everybody is just an amateur reader (and listener).

I've also found that price and my enjoyment have zero correlation. The amount I'm spending on books has definitely dropped as a result. I don't mind spending the money at all, but since it doesn't seem to relate to my enjoyment, why bother?

Bret said...

Pam Uphoff wrote: "If you want to discover new writers, you have to skip that. It's hard for new writers to build up enough readers that they start accumulating double digit reviews."

First, the author doesn't have to be that new.

Second, that filter prevents people like me from gaming my system. What I mean by that, is if I wrote a book (or indeed if I cared about selling my songs), I would talk 100 friends into reading (or listening to) it and writing a 5 star review. I'm quite surprised that not every author does this.

Sure, most of my friends wouldn't write a 5 star review if they didn't like it. But out of 100s of people I know, because music is so subjective, 10 or 20 of them would like it enough to write the 5 star review for me without feeling too guilty.

But I'm guessing 20 is about the limit that most people can pull off with their friends network and that's why I've chosen that item.

Harry Eagar said...

If you are right, then poets (in America) are your model for authors.

They seem to get all their income from readings rather than books (not counting their academic posts).

This has been going on for a long time.

I am not so sure that the costs of waxing a CD did much to keep musicians quiet. I spend some time each week in a friend's used music store. Considering the number of titles he carries, it's hard to believe that anybody capable of strumming 3 chords didn't record.

Even more problematic for your analysis is movies. It still isn't cheap to make even a low-budget film. I dunno if it the home-run possibility that secures funding for bad films, but the number of bad films is immense.

It reminds me of the plant in Minnesota that was built solely to make surplus cheese.

Bret said...

Harry Eagar wrote: " It still isn't cheap to make even a low-budget film."

Technology conquers all. Get back to me in 20 or 50 years.

I don't know how movies will be made then, but it won't be like they're made now.

Annoying Old Guy said...

With regard to CDs and musical groups, my experience tracks with Bret in that it used to be a major expense and decision to cut a CD, now it's no big deal to record for electronic distribution. The fact that a music store carried a very large number of albums is weak data, at best, because you can't say how many groups did not record.

Movies are going the same way - producing a movie may still be expensive but it is far less so than it was previously. If you want to see the future, look up "Machinima". That's the technology that only going to get better and cheaper. Combine it with affordable motion capture and there you are.

Harry Eagar said...

I would think marketeers would assume therrer has to be a buyer somewhere.

Even for very bad movies, there is (was) a surprisingly large market that paid actual $.

A friend of mine bought a storage locker (like on 'Storage Wars'). It proved to be the files of someone who sold film rights in Asia. I spent some time looking through them.

Not one movie was anything I had heard of, or was likely to have heard of, but for many the rights sold for $100,000+, and I think the lowest price I saw was around $15,000.

I didn't examine all the contracts, but there were thousands of them. The transaction value of the business must have been several hundred million dollars at least.

There is also the tradition on Broadway of producting flops, using money from rubes in the sticks, to keep actors in work.

Somehow I doubt people will continue to produce things that they cannot sell. The no-buyer model has not worked out for newspapers. Once all their stuff was stolen and given out for free, they stopped producing.

Bret said...

Harry Eagar wrote: "I would think marketeers would assume there has to be a buyer somewhere."

That's because you use the leftist ideological definition of "free market". Those who view the free market favorably focus on unencumbered ("free") trade that is generally beneficial to all entities involved and realize that currency doesn't necessarily need to be involved.

Harry Eagar wrote: "Somehow I doubt people will continue to produce things that they cannot sell."

15,000,000 books! They're mostly not going to sell.

I enjoy producing music and blog posts and will continue to do so even though I'll never be paid a cent.

Even you write blog posts. You don't get paid for them all, do you?

Annoying Old Guy said...

"Somehow I doubt people will continue to produce things that they cannot sell."

Like families?

As Mickey Kaus pointed out, it's the people who don't like free markets that are obsessed with money and seem incapable of imagining any trade or reward that's not basically cash.

Jeff Shattuck said...

Bret,

So much good stuff in all these comments but I am super pressed for time these days so have to be brief.

I'll go with DRM/copyright/etc. As you know, this is a peeve of mine and I believe that lack of enforcement of copyright law has led to the current situation in which it is so hard to make money from copyrighted works.

I'm not saying all music should be free or not: I'm just saying that the law gives artists the right to choose whether their music is free or not. No law, no choice.

And why is copyright not enforced? Because it is unenforceable? No. It's because Google and Verizon and Apple and others can pay Congress more money than the music industry can.

As for books, Google tried to make them all free (to Google's benefit, of course) and failed maybe because authors write better letters to Congress than musicians and engineers, I don't know. Regardless, now the authors have a powerful friend in Amazon and they are protected, meaning they can self-publish electronically and be reasonably sure that their works won't be copied.

To compare the models, consider gangnam style vs. Wool. Psy's video was the most viewed video in the history of You Tube and he made a few million. Wool, on the other hand, is just one of many successful e-books sold through Amazon and the author, too, made a few million.

All that said, yes, I just want to be heard. But I don't need the money so I'm not sure my needs are well shared!

Shoot, much more to write, but meeting looming, unprepared, must go.

Jeff

Harry Eagar said...

Ever hear of Vantage Press?

It was (may still be) the biggest vanity publisher in the US. I don't think any book it published ever found a readership.

So, yes, people will do things for vanity or as hobbies.

But just because some people will publish unreadable books for personal reasons does not mean that people capable of producing readable books will do so at their own expense.

Strange to see you guys conflating market and non-market behaviors.

I would say that market skeptics like me are obsessed, if that is the right word, with outcomes. Price is a handy way of measuring those.

As I have said before, if the market thinks you are worth more dead than alive, it will kill you. Open your paper today and see why I say that. 100 years after the Triangle fire, workers are being immolated in the name of efficiency (measured solely in pennies).

I don't see how anyone can embrace unfettered markets when that is the result.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"Ever hear of Vantage Press?" - yes. I presumed you hadn't because you wrote "Somehow I doubt people will continue to produce things that they cannot sell". So, you knew something that clearly demonstrated the falsity of that statement, but wrote it anyway?

Bret said...

Jeff,

I miss your posting on the subject of copyright. You wrote that authors "are protected, meaning they can self-publish electronically and be reasonably sure that their works won't be copied." I don't they are very protected, at least not by DRM. There're lots of tools that can strip out DRM and other eBook protection schemes these days. For some reason, nobody seems to bother. I'm not sure why.

In any case, I'm very confident copy protection or lack thereof is not why I or millions of other song-writers don't make money. Indeed, I sure wish that was my only obstacle. :-)

Bret said...

Harry Eagar wrote: "...does not mean that people capable of producing readable books will do so at their own expense."

They clearly do now (15,000,000 books this year!). You need to show why they're going to suddenly stop.

(BTW, "readable" to you is definitely different than "readable" to somebody).

Bret said...

Harry wrote: "Open your paper today..."

I don't kill trees anymore just for reading. How about a link so I have some idea of what you're referring to?

Harry wrote: "...if the market thinks you are worth more dead than alive, it will kill you."

And government more so, so I'm not sure what you're point is. At least free market workers choose to work voluntarily (thus the word "free"). Not generally true with governments (drafting soldiers and sending them off to war, for example). And even those who voluntarily work for the government don't always fare so well (police die, firefighters burn and die, etc.)

Jeff Shattuck said...

Bret,

I miss writing about this stuff. Sadly, no time these days, but I hope that will change in the next few months.

You wrote, with regard to authors, " I don't think they are very protected, at least not by DRM. There're lots of tools that can strip out DRM and other eBook protection schemes these days. For some reason, nobody seems to bother. I'm not sure why."

I think the reason is simple: it's hard enough. Plus, let's say you're someone who has the time to do this, to really make your work count you've got to post your hacked works where lots of people can get at them for next to no effort. Do this, and the publishing industry would come after you guns blazing and win. At least that's what I think. In music, copying is easier than ever and .gov doesn't seem to care. Much.

All that said, I absolutely agree with you that copyright or no most people doing creative work won't make a dime. And that's okay. No one deserves to be paid a cent -- no matter how hard he worked -- if no one wants his output. I also agree that most people just want their stuff to get some stage time. I know I do. That's why I pay to play! Jango, earbits, others, all these services give me an outlet. Even good old YouTube.

Jeff

Harry Eagar said...

I agree that readable to me is outside the norm. I spend nearly as much per month on CDs and books as Skipper does in a year.

But we have sort of objective measures of what is readable, or purchasable.

In England, for example, it used to be that people read 4 times as many books, per person, as in America, which meant that commercial publishers put out books that no American publisher would have touched.

The number of books published in the US was rising fast, from 40K per year 40 years ago to 100K in the 90s. Photo typesetting had a lot to do with that.

Despite the opening lines of 'All Quiet on the Western Front,' (something about a million plays in a million drawers in Germany in 1913, as I recall, but it's been nearly 50 years since I read it), I am skeptical that there are 15M books being produced.

Writing books is laborious.

I think you should read a daily paper. You would know so much more about the world around you that it would do you good.

I referred, of course, to the collapse of a building in Bangladesh that killed (at today's count) 340 poor workers. They may not have been as free as you imagine, and it may even be that their employers were not as free as free marketeers imagine them to be to have done right by their workers.

Where tenths of a cent make the difference between getting that WalMart contract and going out of business, paying for safe workplaces is a luxury employers cannot justify.

Bret said...

Harry wrote: "But we have sort of objective measures of what is readable, or purchasable."

We do? What are they?

Harry wrote: "In England, for example, it used to be that people read 4 times as many books, per person, as in America, which meant that commercial publishers put out books that no American publisher would have touched."

I'm lost here. First, there are more than 4 times as many people in the U.S. as in Britain so the total number of books sold would be larger here and second, do books really not cross the Atlantic ocean (i.e. no trade in books for english speaking peoples)?

Harry wrote: "You would know so much more about the world around you that it would do you good."

Almost certainly not. I spend the vast majority of waking hours learning stuff, so it would just distract me from learning other stuff about the world.

Harry wrote: "...and going out of business..."

If they go out of business and the employees all let go then the employees in Bangladesh starve. That's better because why?

erp said...

Harry's right, but only if you read the UK papers. US papers only reprint White House propaganda.

Harry Eagar said...

If they go out of business and the employees all let go then the employees in Bangladesh starve. That's better because why?

That wouldn't be the only choice in a well-regulated economy. RtO has more to say about this.

But when the choice is between starving or being buried alive, who will make your fine distinctions?

Bret said...

Harry wrote: "That wouldn't be the only choice in a well-regulated economy.

No such thing as a "well"-regulated economy. Regulated, yes, "well"-regulated no. By the way, the Bangladesh economy is far from a free-market.

Harry Eagar said...

But the competition for Wal-Mart contracts is not regulated by the Bangladeshi government.

At RtO you cited the Heritage Foundation's freedom index. However, Heritage considers the 'freedom' of only one element of an economy, capital.

And, of course, there are many well-regulated economies. Canada is an example Americans have every reason to know about. Japan's has been very successful.

In South Asia, notoriously, businessmen have to gets endless chits stamped by office-wallahs, but while that impedes them, it is not the same as effective regulation. Regulation, for example, of land rights, is nearly non-existent.

Peter said...

Harry, as you and your fellow leftist bloggers hurl gigantic curses at the market economy over the Bangladesh tragedy, do any of you pause to ponder the significance of Bangladesh having experienced over 5% annual growth rates for a decade and increasing their annual GDP twenty fold since 1980 after years of stagnation under their well-regulated socialist model? Or do you just pretend all their economic precious bodily fluids are being sucked into the bank accounts of Western plutocrats? Pehaps you are moved by the cultural richness of traditional subsistence farming in rice paddies or drinking tea all day in an urban slum while your wife works long hours weaving jute rugs nobody wants to buy?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Those are not the results they obsess about.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] At RtO you cited the Heritage Foundation's freedom index. However, Heritage considers the 'freedom' of only one element of an economy, capital.

Really? The HF's freedom index looks at:

Rule of Law: The property rights component is an assessment of the ability of individuals to accumulate private property, secured by clear laws that are fully enforced by the state. It measures the degree to which a country’s laws protect private property rights and the degree to which its government enforces those laws. It also assesses the likelihood that private property will be expropriated and analyzes the independence of the judiciary, the existence of corruption within the judiciary, and the ability of individuals and businesses to enforce contracts.

Freedom from Corruption: Corruption erodes economic freedom by introducing insecurity and uncertainty into economic relationships. The score for this component is derived primarily from Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2010, which measures the level of corruption in 178 countries.

I could go on, but I think my point is made.

By the way, Bangladesh ranked 132nd in that economic freedom ranking.

And, of course, there are many well-regulated economies. Canada is an example Americans have every reason to know about. Japan's has been very successful.

The fact that Canada is right next door to the US can't have anything to do with their success, I'm sure. As for Japan, I'm not sure very many people would agree that it has a) been very successful, and b) that eliminating a whole bunch of regulation would make it less successful.

[Peter:] Harry, as you and your fellow leftist bloggers hurl gigantic curses at the market economy over the Bangladesh tragedy, do any of you pause to ponder the significance of Bangladesh having experienced over 5% annual growth rates for a decade and increasing their annual GDP twenty fold since 1980 after years of stagnation under their well-regulated socialist model?

Somehow, market economics never gets blamed for raising hundreds of millions from grinding poverty.

India, since 1991, would seem worth considering. Or China.

Or Cuba and Venezuela.

Peter said...

If it were just that they didn't obsess about it, I wouldn't mind. I might even give them a hearing if they were just talking about excesses or injustices. But I am persuaded most of today's left has become downright hostile to economic growth and material progress. Of course no one will openly admit to favouring penury, but they are so dependably condemning of the global "market" system that has raised material well-being and lowered global poverty rates to historic levels it's impossible to believe any more they don't yearn for some kind of closed, autarkic neo-feudal stability. Sometimes it's the environment, sometimes dire warnings of resource depletions that never pan out, sometimes more doomsday predictions of capitalism's "inevitable" collapse, sometimes excess consumption by the super-rich (and even more aesthetically offensive, by the lower middle class), sometimes discredited neo-Malthusian thinking and sometimes the loss of traditional cultures, but it all seems to add up to a romantic nostalgia for some Arcadia of yore. Unlike the traditional left, they all seem to forgotten just how hungry and sick and despairing most of the world's population was until recently? not Harry, though, he likes progress. His problem is that, with the aid of books no one else has heard of, he ignores a hundred years of historical experience with socialism.

Peter said...

Harry, no one is prouder of his country that me, but in what sense to you think Canada has a "well-regulated" economy? If you are just talking about the banking system, that's fair and I would defend it on sui generis grounds, but what else are you talking about?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Peter;

Neo-feudalism, hmmmm.

I have started to see people arguing explicitly in favor of penury - certainly many of the Green Rage types do, and the neo-Malthusians. But it seems to be to be becoming more mainstream, in the vein of the Russian peasant joke.

Bret said...

Peter,

I just posted this graph to go with your comment above.

Annoying Old Guy said...

I have that in my tabs, I have been meaning to write about that graph and some related things on this subject.