The new preface from TGS

by on June 10, 2011 at 1:24 am in Books, Economics | Permalink

It is added to the print version and is available on-line from Reuters, to coincide with the publication of the physical book, which is now in stores.  Excerpt:

The original publication of The Great Stagnation was in eBook form only, and I meant for that to reflect an argument of the book itself: The contemporary world has plenty of innovations, but most of them do not benefit the average household. After all, the average household does not own an eReader. It’s not even clear whether the average household buys and reads books. So I viewed the exclusive electronic publication, somewhat impishly, as an act of self-reference to the underlying problem itself. It was therefore a bit amusing when some critics suggested that the new medium of the eBook itself refuted the book’s stagnation theory—quite the contrary.

1 Mikko June 10, 2011 at 2:36 am

I’m one of the people who does not have an e-book reader who still bought the original book (in ebook format). The innovation here was yours – the book is short and priced low enough that I felt comfortable buying and reading it from my computer. Something I wouldn’t do if the book cost $10 and contained 300 pages.

The age of the short ebook is nigh.

2 iamreddave June 10, 2011 at 4:59 am

I added the print version of TGS to an amazon listmania of avuncular books made by men with beards
http://www.amazon.com/Avuncular-Nonfiction-Books/lm/R1PK3NNXHQP86L/ref=cm_srch_res_rpli_alt_1

Possibly not the most high profile review TGS will get

3 Seth June 10, 2011 at 9:17 am

Don’t sell yourself short like that.

4 RR June 10, 2011 at 5:41 am

Globally speaking, the real great stagnation was in the late 90s
Yglesias
http://ygl.as/j4uZ1o

5 J Thomas June 10, 2011 at 7:08 am

http://bit.ly/jWY75E

What do france, germany and japan have in common?

What do USA and ireland have in common?

6 Andrew' June 10, 2011 at 5:55 am

Will the paperback version help me get my baby to sleep?

7 Rahul June 10, 2011 at 6:25 am

Historically the average household never bought and read books.So that can’t be a part of TGS.

OTOH the typical US household that does indeed buy and read books is quite likely to own an ebook reader.

8 The Unqualified Economist June 10, 2011 at 9:26 am

“Paper books are easier to give as gifts and easier (sometimes) to use in the classroom. On top of all that, Amazon.com, B&N.com, the iBookstore, and related services do not yet reach into every corner of the globe. Paper books can get to remote places a little more reliably”.

Tyler, I have to disagree with you there for obvious reasons. 🙂

“Personally I like reading books on trips and dropping them somewhere creative, in the hope they will be picked up by a surprised and delighted future reader.”

I do like and agree with this strongly, however.

9 Seth June 10, 2011 at 1:07 pm

“So I viewed the exclusive electronic publication, somewhat impishly, as an act of self-reference to the underlying problem itself. It was therefore a bit amusing when some critics suggested that the new medium of the eBook itself refuted the book’s stagnation theory—quite the contrary.”

I’ve been noodling on this all morning and I’m not sure I get it. Is this the same as saying that the existence of ebooks support the stagnation theory, or not quite?

10 rudy June 11, 2011 at 12:31 am

ummm, i think the average household probably does have an e-reader. why not? they not perceived to be expensive for people. most of my cousins and older relatives who make no more than about 40K a year (in the Southern part of the US) have an e-reader, in addition to $300+ smartphones, $1000+ entertainment systems, etc.

11 dmoynihan June 12, 2011 at 2:20 am

Umm, until fairly recently (Kindle), most “ebooks” were .pdfs sold direct to consumers. These days, .pdf is still the dominant ebook format for free downloads. .pdfs can actually be read anywhere, so, you know, most households have an “ebook reader.”

It’s likely, actually, that continued drops in commodity costs will push tablets (iPad, NookColor) down severely in price very soon, ending the age of the pure “ereader.” This’ll benefit consumers and content providers… commodity hardware makers (Apple excepted), not so much.

My own disagreement with TGS stems from what it now takes for me to prepare and sell ebooks to the world/printed books w/ (limited) distribution on four continents. 1998, when I started, 5 free ebooks was the result of a day’s work. (I was in low-level IT, so had free time and a T-1.) That’s just formatting. These days, I can do 40+ ebooks an hour. More interestingly, getting a basic book scanned (not proofed), used to take two+ hours in 2001, so you’d pay to have it done in India or the Philippines. These days, it’s half that time on home (~$50) scanners, and there are robotic page-turning scanners hitting the market for $10k or so which’ll put a lot of people in India out of work. Also, OCR software has gotten infinitely better now from where it was in 2001, as in the old days you were better off typing the book yourself.

/Very few of those .pdfs were printed. Some, sure, but not that many.

//Robotic page-turning scanners like Kirtas hit the market circa ’07, I believe. They used to cost $170k or so. Not sure if the $10k device’ll do what I need or not. May wait ’til next year, depending on how a few test books go.

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