*The Great Stagnation* (Retrogression)

by on May 17, 2011 at 11:19 am in Books, Economics, Uncategorized | Permalink

June 9 it is coming out in a physical edition, hard cover.  Amazon pre-order is here.  Barnes&Noble pre-order is here.  The text is exactly the same as the eBook edition, although I made a minor addition to one footnote.  If you’ve read Borges’s Pierre Menard, you’ll know why I regard the electronic edition as “the real book” and this volume as a kind of postmodern satire.  Still, many people demanded a physical edition, sometimes for classroom use, and so now there is one.

Erik Brynjolfsson May 17, 2011 at 11:35 am

The paper version costs more than the ebook, and presumably doesn’t have clickable hyperlinks, crowdsourced highlights, instant delivery or similar features that I enjoyed when I read your eBook. But each eBook sale adds less to GDP than the dead-tree version. It’s a small, if somewhat ironic, example of how measured GDP misses much of the value of the digital revolution.

Bill May 17, 2011 at 11:44 am

Although GDP is lower, the gains, however, may accrue to the copyright holder insofar as the cost of distribution (paper, book distribution, etc.) are lower with an ebook.

So, rights holders are winners, and tree killers are losers.

And, the GDP shrinks.

Now, if Tyler were smarter, he would have transfered the unpublished book copyrights to an Irish sub, valued the IP rights as of the date of transfer, and loaded up his gains in the foreign licenisng sub if his book unexpectedly took off.

Then, he could retire to Ireland and solve their economic crisis.

Pavel Kohout May 17, 2011 at 12:30 pm

I’m not quite sure about stagnation in the U.S., but in Europe it’s been pretty straightforward: (1) highest taxation in the world (especially labour); (2) regulatory overkill – the more European integration the more regulation; (3) welfare state über alles linked back to the item (1).

Now Europe is sick of debt expansion with murky outlooks. I’ve bad feeling that the real stagnation is yet to come.

Rahul May 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm

…….and an ageing demographic.

Gabriel Rossman May 17, 2011 at 12:44 pm

One nice thing about the paper version is we never have to worry about it being remotely deleted by court order if an American court finds it to infringe copyright or a foreign court finds it to be blasphemous, racist, or libelous.

dirk May 17, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Yay! We can finally read that chart!

Andrew' May 17, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Addresses the ubiquitous “stagnation + e-book, ha!” in debates.

E. Barandiaran May 17, 2011 at 2:04 pm

After a few pages of the e-book version, I thought I was going to read “Pierre Menard Author of AN ESSAY ON THE PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION”.

When I finished reading it, I remembered this paragraph from Borges’ story (Irby’s translation):
“My intent is no more than astonishing,” he wrote me the 30th of September, 1934, from Bayonne. “The final term in a theological or metaphysical demonstration—the objective world, God, causality, the forms of the universe—is no less previous and common than my famed novel. The only difference is that the philosophers publish the intermediary stages of their labor in pleasant volumes and I have resolved to do away with those stages.” In truth, not one worksheet remains to bear witness to his years of effort.

Basileos Droias has adapted Borges’ story to science in his “Pierre Menard Author of the PRINCIPIA”. That paragraph says
“My intent is no more than astonishing,” he wrote me on the 30th of September, 1986, from Bayonne. “The final term in a scientific demonstration—the objective world, God, causality, the forms of the Universe—is no less previous and common than my famed treatise. The only difference is that scientists publish the intermediary stages of their labor in pleasant volumes and articles and I have resolved to do away with those stages.” In truth, not one worksheet remains to bear witness to his years of effort.

When reading TGS, I missed the intermediary stages. I’m still wondering where the worksheets are.

john b. May 17, 2011 at 3:18 pm

I am fine with electronic editions as the only edition, but not with encrypted electronic editions that I can only read on approved devices and applications. With Kindle books, you are at the mercy of Amazon (and its business relationships, e.g. with Apple) for continued access to what you’ve purchased.

This is not a huge barrier to the tech-savvy, which is why Amazon’s DRM has no effect on the piracy of ebooks. But it does mean that, as someone who would like to comport with the law, I am uncomfortable paying money for something that can be yanked away from me at any time. At the same time, I have plenty of DRM-free ebooks from Project Gutenberg and other places on my iPad right now, and I feel like I “own” them.

T.G. May 17, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Tyler, can you explore and explain why is that your book — highly readable, far-influencing in the web and beyond — only has 21 reviews on Amazon? The number of mentions of the “great stagnation” has skyrocketed since the release, but why so few reviews? Do you think this has to do with the ebook format?

Peter Russell May 17, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Hi, Professor Cowen,
Longtime reader/fan here. Your web designer Cord Bloomquist is a marvelous guy — very talented. We’ve used him and are using him in our ongoing redesign, based on your reccy in these pages.
A question for you — your book is a huge success on the web. We presume you looked at traditional publishing house models. How much do you estimate you’ve made (as a percentage, we’d never ask you to reveal the vulgarity of numbers, as you are an economist) MORE by publishing it yourself than you would have at a trad publishing house?

Dan Hill May 17, 2011 at 7:12 pm

It’s one of the most thought provoking books I’ve read in a long time (even though I disagree with a large part of his conclusion). And I’m a committed Kindle user. Nevertheless I’d consider buying the hard copy. Why? Well maybe people who love the book want a version without the shitty formatting. It’s incredibly disappointing that having deliberately selected ebook as the initial and primary format, Tyler and / or his publisher then did the same slapdash job with the layout as every other half-assed author / publisher seems to do when converting their dead tree editions to electronic form. “Let’s show people how to use this form properly” would have been a more appropriate approach…

Tom Davies May 17, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Peter, Tyler didn’t self publish, which was a pain — the electronic version wasn’t available in all countries for quite a while, and the same will be true of the physical version. If Tyler had paid someone to produce a nice PDF and had put it up at hulu or blurb it would have been better for his readers.

Ray May 17, 2011 at 7:38 pm

I took the original The Great Stagnation, printed it to paper and then proceeded to meticulously retype every single word, making no changes or edits, on my typewriter. It took days. It was an exact copy of your work, and yet it was funnier, more incisive, more influential and better in all regards than the original.

E. Barandiaran May 17, 2011 at 9:57 pm

But you couldn’t follow your brother Pierre’s advice about eliminating the intermediary stages because the original didn’t include them.

tkehler May 17, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Ray: I’m sure you are right, in all respects but one: influence. Tyler’s version influenced YOU. Can that be said of your version, namely that it was so far-reaching as to influence you too? I think not…

Beefcake the Mighty May 17, 2011 at 10:31 pm

I wouldn’t give Tyler the sweat off my balls if he was dying of thirst, so I’m sure as hell not going to fork out any cabbage for his sorry-ass book, in either electronic or physical format.

zbicyclist May 18, 2011 at 12:39 am

Will wait for clay tablet version.

john b May 18, 2011 at 7:05 am

@Tom Davies

PDFs are not an electronic book format. They are for the electronic representation of paper books. They are non-reflowable–an 8.5 x 11 PDF cannot be displayed on a small screen, for instance, the way an ePub can.

Tom Davies May 18, 2011 at 8:56 am

@John — true, hulu, for example, supports both physical print on demand and ePub.

john b. May 18, 2011 at 10:25 am

I believe that ePub can support multiple representations of text. So you can have the reflowable text bundled along with a PDF (or PDF-like) pages that display when the screen is the right resolution. This could be useful for people who complain about reflowing (e.g. poets who care about where line breaks happen) and it means that we should have one format for this, another format for that. ePub is probably the right format even for heavily-graphical works. An “ebook done right” can also embed its own fonts, so you don’t have to have some boring uniformity between books.

(Of course, having a baked layout can still be challenging because the relevant metric for computers is resolution and not screen size. We’ve lived with this on regular computers for a while, but you’ll notice that on its touch devices, Apple either doubles the display (so that preexisting bitmaps can simply be squared) or leaves it the same so that the actual physical size of interface elements remains the same. Without being size-aware as well as resolution aware you could end up with teeny tiny text on a small, high-res screen. )

Tom Davies May 18, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Aargh — ‘hulu’ above should be ‘lulu’! Completely different.

Ray Ban Eyeglasses June 9, 2011 at 3:59 am

This shows which they last very much lengthier and thus saving you income which could otherwise are actually utilized to purchase new ones.ghhh

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