Deep Thoughts On Publishing

Paul Graham has one:

In fact consumers never really were paying for content, and publishers weren't really selling it either. If the content was what they were selling, why has the price of books or music or movies always depended mostly on the format? Why didn't better content cost more?

A copy of Time costs $5 for 58 pages, or 8.6 cents a page. The Economist costs $7 for 86 pages, or 8.1 cents a page. Better journalism is actually slightly cheaper. Almost every form of publishing has been organized as if the medium was what they were selling, and the content was irrelevant. Book publishers, for example, set prices based on the cost of producing and distributing books. They treat the words printed in the book the same way a textile manufacturer treats the patterns printed on its fabrics.

One of Jeff Jarvis' commenters counters:

It’s good to take an extreme position to try and evince some insight, however, the idea that publishers sell paper is a bit of a reductio ad absurdum. [...W]hat about books by authors that don’t sell[?] A best selling author and a poor selling one are both printed on the same paper. If the publisher were selling paper, wouldn’t there be equal demand for both?