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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #21 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 5:27 am 
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Mivo wrote:
In the past few years, there have been multiple new versions of the hardware, all costing several hundreds of dollars a piece.


Er, not really. The Kindle cost a couple of hundred for two iterations. Now it's only around a hundred dollars. It may very well drop below that. That's not several hundreds of dollars.

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What happens if, say, Amazon shuts down tomorrow? (I'll use the Kindle as an example here.)


Unless that somehow bricks your kindle completely such that it doesn't even register as a storage device, you've still got your Kindle, and most importantly, you still have the books ON your kindle. They can be read and converted to different formats rather easily, and as a result can be moved to a new device such as a different ereader, your computer or they can still be read on your kindle (assuming it doesn't somehow magically brick when amazon goes out of business).

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What about in 20 years? The ebook format then will have changed. How do I keep my books "updated"? At which point will I no longer have access to them unless I use an antiquary to read them on? Can I make myself independent of the whims and fate of one specific company?


Easy, you can move them to a PC, convert them, and then read them in the new format. With E-Books it's really not difficult. It's not like trying to convert a piece of hardware such as a DVD to a Blu-Ray. You've basically got text and formatting.

Books have their own vulnerabilities. Everytime I lose one or damage one somehow, I have to replace it. Supposing there is a flood or fire or similar occurrence, my whole library may go up in smoke.

On the other hand, my library of kindle books can remain safe with Amazon (who let me re-download them at no cost whatsoever even if I buy a new device), or on a Sandisk which I keep in my pocket. Or on a private server somewhere (it's not like they're large) if I am concerned about Amazon disappearing.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #22 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:10 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
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Current book buyers want Sakata's book more than they want (most) contemporary books.


Strictly we should probably distinguish between buyers who are go players and those who are collectors. Collectors seem more likely to distort markets.


I would think rather that for an average go player, the set of books that have already been written suffice for a lifetime of study, while it is the collectors whose lives seem incomplete without a shelf full of new go books.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #23 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:10 am 
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tchan001 wrote:
imabuddha wrote:
Please tell me how I can get access to a copy of Sakata's "Tesuji and Anti-Suji of Go" for less than $100. :(

Find a good library :)

If you are in the USA, there should be a copy at the Cleveland Public Library and at the Library of Congress.

Sadly, for those of us who aren't in Cleveland or DC, this doesn't work. I've checked two of the largest university libraries in the world, and one has zero (zero!) books about Go, and the other has six or seven (extremely) introductory books, about 100 books in Chinese and Japanese, and that's it.

It's a bit of a shame that American libraries don't carry as much go material as they do chess material. I've checked the chess material, and most of it is never checked out, so demand is not the explanation; it's just pure inertia.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #24 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:19 am 
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tchan001 wrote:
imabuddha wrote:
Please tell me how I can get access to a copy of Sakata's "Tesuji and Anti-Suji of Go" for less than $100. :(

Find a good library :)

If you are in the USA, there should be a copy at the Cleveland Public Library and at the Library of Congress.

I am in the USA, and I've tried to get that & other OOP books through the inter-library loan system. Unfortunately, it's not available. :/


Last edited by imabuddha on Thu Mar 31, 2011 7:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #25 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:23 am 
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Monadology wrote:
Er, not really. The Kindle cost a couple of hundred for two iterations. Now it's only around a hundred dollars. It may very well drop below that. That's not several hundreds of dollars.


The current versions cost $139 (plus $30 for a cover, which I think is pretty much mandatory) for the bare bones system, $189 for the 6" version with 3G, and $379 for the 9.7" one.

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They can be read and converted to different formats rather easily


Can it be done legally, though? I didn't look too deeply into this aspect, but ebooks seem to come with DRM, and this bit backs those concerns.

There is also a large number of different formats, as listed here. I think I'd be less resilient to the idea if there was some kind of accepted standard, but apparently everyone wants to stick to their own format. I don't doubt that eventually there will be a standard (that is, if ebooks are to have more than a 5-10% market share), so I feel that it may simply be too early to jump on the ebooks bandwagon.

I'd probably get a Kindle just to have one, but another concern I have is that it pretty much ties me to one vendor. The bookstore (a small, regional chain) I have been buying books from in the past fifteen or so years does have digital editions for some books, but they are for all sorts of readers other than the Kindle. Those readers (I checked only some) are fairly expensive and partly don't look as well-featured as the Kindle. Amazon doesn't even accept PayPal. :) I may get a tablet later this year and perhaps then I'll check into ebooks more -- but I would not want to tie myself to one vendor.

For the portability, I'd like something like this, but I don't think it is much more than a prototype yet.

Does the Kindle support the epub format? Or only its own format? epub looks like it may have the potential to become "the" standard format.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #26 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:45 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
No, the point is is that it is not the same effort. People who have tried so far have found that the amount of work required for e-books is much, much higher. I agree that on paper (as it were) it shouldn't be much different, but the reality is that it is very different, which means there is a lot of work in redesigning and rewriting. This has largely to do with the way variations and current readers work in sgf, and the fact that conventionally written text or pointers to variations disappear at crucial moments. There are also difficulties such as being able easily to compare one diagram to another int he same view. The upshot is that text for e-books really has to be written ex novo, and that is just not worth while at present.

Of course a current paper book can be converted to a pdf file if you count that as an e-book, but that is tantamount to giving it away free. The pirates affect the go market much more than most people realise. It is one of the most important reasons books are not reprinted, for example. But actually the quite legal business of re-selling or lending go books is also a deterrent. People sometimes complain about the high price of go books, but again it is a special niche market and you have a high chance of recouping some money by re-selling. But that also works against re-printing.

The implication behind a question like where you can get an out-of-print book for less than $100 is that you have a right to such a deal. You don't. And remember also that the author gets no benefit from the second-hand price. There is one minor book of mine where a re-seller gloatingly made more on his one copy than I made on the entire (small) print run. If you want a steady stream of good books that stay in print at reasonable prices, you need to ask whether enough is being done to help the producers. The biggest single way to help is easy and free. There are virtually no advertising outlets, so actively talking more about specific books (as in this thread) would be a major boost.

Wow, I cannot fathom how you can possibly think this way.

Let me address your last paragraph first. I AM NOT asserting a "right" to cheap books. You missed my point entirely. The outrageous prices for some OOP books is a symptom of what's wrong with the paper book market. As you note, authors reap no benefit from those high prices. (unless they stashed a few copies of the book themselves) Readers also do not benefit, neither do the publishers. The cost of printing paper books in the traditional way, as opposed to print on demand, causes problems for everyone.

You also note there are "virtually no advertising outlets". I assert that soon there will be a new outlet, with the potential to reach a very large (and growing) market. (the proof for this claim will come within a few months)

Regarding pdf files, they clearly are a transitional format, at least for go books & magazines. However, they serve a vital role. Shining examples of the increased access to important English language go material are the Go World & Go Review archives. They provide a way for interested people to read this old material. How else would you suggest it be done? Do you think their existence is bad?

I also dispute your claims that preparing a book for electronic publication requires a "much, much higher" effort. I do have personal experience in preparing books for electronic publication. If you'd like to contact me privately to compare the number of hours with what you know a paper book requires then I'd be happy to do so.


Finally, I'd like to address one final point. You seem to hammer on about financial considerations. Certainly people should be compensated for their efforts, and we all need to eat. However, you're a writer. Birds fly, fish swim, and writers write. You will go on writing, perhaps not go books, but you will keep writing something. I hope you get well paid to do so. However, can you honestly claim that you write only for remuneration? If no one ever offers you another £ to write something, will you never write another book?

If electronic publication can reach more readers, and pay you better than some of the paper books you've been involved in, (Golden Opportunities, for example), then why do you seem to be so opposed to it?

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #27 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 7:00 am 
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Mivo wrote:
Actually, some of the novels I bought recently had more expensive Kindle versions.

… big snip …

I would -like- to switch to ebooks, but as long as only some titles are released electronically and they frequently cost more than a paperback copy, plus all the concerns above, I'm very hesitant to go that route. It's different from adapting a new technology. With books, there is more at stake. (I can't afford to buy every book twice.)

I completely agree with your points about costs, DRM, and the limitations of electronic goods.

I personally think an electronic book should cost less than a paper one for the simple reason that production & distribution costs are less. Some in the publishing industry have tried to dispute this, but it's obvious that bits are cheaper than atoms. Unfortunately, many of the publishers that charge too much for ebooks don't spend even the minimum effort to proofread & format their ebook editions, which is doubly insulting & disrespectful towards their customers.

I'm also vehemently opposed to arbitrary content restrictions, which companies like to call "Digital Rights Management" or drm. No consumer ever woke up in the morning thinking "Hey, I'd like to do less with the goods I buy and pay more for them". There's also been enough history now for anyone with a functioning brain to know that drm never stops copyright infringement.


In any case, I do believe that lower cost ebooks are inevitable. Some authors are making small fortunes now by self-publishing & setting prices so low that the barrier of cost is eliminated. See http://www.businessinsider.com/amanda-hocking-2011-2 Sure, such cases are outliers, but the future of ebook prices is clear, just as it is for mainstream software.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #28 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 7:11 am 
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Mivo wrote:
Monadology wrote:
Er, not really. The Kindle cost a couple of hundred for two iterations. Now it's only around a hundred dollars. It may very well drop below that. That's not several hundreds of dollars.


The current versions cost $139 (plus $30 for a cover, which I think is pretty much mandatory) for the bare bones system, $189 for the 6" version with 3G, and $379 for the 9.7" one.


Only the DX, out of those you listed, could be described as cositng several hundreds of dollars. The Wi-Fi Kindle 3 even WITH cover falls short of two hundred.

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They can be read and converted to different formats rather easily


Can it be done legally, though? I didn't look too deeply into this aspect, but ebooks seem to come with DRM, and this bit backs those concerns.


Screw legality. There is nothing wrong with converting an eBook you have purchased to read it in another format. Nor is there anything wrong with backing them up.

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I'd probably get a Kindle just to have one, but another concern I have is that it pretty much ties me to one vendor. The bookstore (a small, regional chain) I have been buying books from in the past fifteen or so years does have digital editions for some books, but they are for all sorts of readers other than the Kindle. Those readers (I checked only some) are fairly expensive and partly don't look as well-featured as the Kindle. Amazon doesn't even accept PayPal. :) I may get a tablet later this year and perhaps then I'll check into ebooks more -- but I would not want to tie myself to one vendor.


It only ties you to the vendor when it comes to the eReader hardware. You can still purchase eBooks from other vendors in Kindle compatible formats (and if not, conversion is still on option). It's not like you can't put books you bought elsewhere onto the Kindle.

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Does the Kindle support the epub format? Or only its own format? epub looks like it may have the potential to become "the" standard format.


IIRC, the Kindle does not support epub. Fortunately ePubs are easy to convert into mobi, which the Kindle does support.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #29 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 7:44 am 
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The Kindle doesn't even limit you to its own hardware at the moment. Yu can read Kindle books on your computer or iOS devices.

In this realm, Amazon is a content provider that makes hardware for the sake of helping the market grow.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #30 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:02 am 
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imabuddha: I suppose we are destined to remain far apart since you obviously have some secret idea you want to serve but not disclose, but we can perhaps close the gap with a little more attention to detail.

First, I did not say I opposed e-books (I even mentioned I'd bought a Kindle). I have simply tried to explain why they are finding it difficult to win acceptance by the people who produce go books. There is no proof or hint yet that the electronic market will increase the number of people buying go books. It may happen, but it may also reduce the number (cutting out those who don't live online).

Secondly, I did not say preparation of e-books was harder than paper. I specifically said it was preparation of go e-books that was harder. If you have experience of inputting long go texts and diagrams into dynamic e-form and have found that easy, then you will have discovered a holy grail, and quite a few people would like to take a sip from it. We are not talking about cut and paste or Photoshop and Latex here. We are talking about major rewriting of text so that it makes sense with what you see elsewhere on the screen.

Yes, the conversion of Go Review to pdf served a purpose. But what's the lesson? It was done with permission, so it has no relevance to an OOP book where permission is withheld (for a variety of possible reasons). Also, I don't think it has set the go book market alight or increased the number of players (unlike some paper books). I am not opposed to it - I got a free copy as a contributor - but I have never looked at it, preferring to read though the paper copies.

As to being a writer, remuneration does count for a lot, and I don't think that's different from any profession. For many of us, it is the principle of it that matters more than the amount, though a certain minimum is also essential. It is a sign, for example, that work is considered worthy of respect. It is true that if there was no remuneration I might keep writing, but it would be private or like the stuff I do here: off the top of my head, unchecked, unproof-read, unstructured, avoiding diagrams, etc. That may amuse some people during coffee breaks but it's hardly work I would want to see in a Festschrift. In fact, the spate of books I have produced recently for Slate & Shell have been around for years, decades sometimes, in my files, usually in shorthand, and they never appeared simply because I couldn't face the work needed to put them in the form required by the usual publishers (though I did it occasionally, and so know something about designing books electronically). It was only when Bill Cobb volunteered to do the design nitty gritty that I was persuaded to dig out that stuff. Payment was obviously discussed, but only as a principle, i.e royalty rate. I had no idea of how many books would be sold, and I'd have to wait a year to find out. For over a year it didn't even occur to me to ask what the print runs were. My prime concern was actually that it would help the GoGoD brand. Nevertheless, that relative indifference to the amount does not mean that I do not hold tenaciously to the principle, and (for example) I would be very annoyed if one of my own OOP books appeared as a pirated version. I would not be persuaded that I should allow it to appear in e-form just because it would be useful for the community, or even less just because someone was curious to see what was in it.

Go is a game of patience. The same applies with the books that remained hidden in my files for decades, and I might also want to keep OOP books back until an opportunity to re-use them came along. Just because you can do something thanks to electronics, doesn't mean you have to or ought to.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #31 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:03 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
...Some people have justified piracy (or photocopying) of go books simply by arguing a book is out of print, arrogating a right to themselves they haven't got.
...


I would argue that the rights that someone has depends entirely on the law. If it's not against the law for me to photocopy a book, then I'd say I have the right to do it. In this particular case, such actions may very well be against the law. But it's only because of this that I'd think that I don't have the right to do something like this.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #32 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:25 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
No, the point is is that it is not the same effort. People who have tried so far have found that the amount of work required for e-books is much, much higher. I agree that on paper (as it were) it shouldn't be much different, but the reality is that it is very different, which means there is a lot of work in redesigning and rewriting. This has largely to do with the way variations and current readers work in sgf, and the fact that conventionally written text or pointers to variations disappear at crucial moments.


I'll second this claim. I had the opportunity to lay out some go material in both an electronic and printed forms, and the printed version took much less time. While having a lesson/game/article helps a little in converting to another form, it doesn't cut the time down nearly as much as you might think.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #33 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:30 am 
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Just two small points:

One reason I like paper books and other hard media is because of the resale market; I'm willing to pay more for something I can later sell. So the author/publisher/whoever is compensated for the resale value. Cars present another example, where consumers will pay more for a care with better resale value.

There's a balance here; no one should be asked to work out of the goodness of his/her heart, or out of some greater sense of duty to do so, at the same time no one is obligated to buy something out of charity. We'd get fewer good books otherwise. Of course, communists and some socialists would disagree.

Regarding out of print books, one benefit I see to e-books is that they are far less likely to become out of print (the cost of continuing distribution must be smaller than printing another run). And perhaps the e-format may increase the possibility of OOP books becoming legitimately available (i.e. by permission of the rights owner). Even if a rare out of print book is scanned in PDF, even without reformatting, it is better than nothing (and worth paying for, depending on the book).

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #34 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:41 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
imabuddha: I suppose we are destined to remain far apart since you obviously have some secret idea you want to serve but not disclose, but we can perhaps close the gap with a little more attention to detail.

… snip …

Secondly, I did not say preparation of e-books was harder than paper. I specifically said it was preparation of go e-books that was harder. If you have experience of inputting long go texts and diagrams into dynamic e-form and have found that easy, then you will have discovered a holy grail, and quite a few people would like to take a sip from it. We are not talking about cut and paste or Photoshop and Latex here. We are talking about major rewriting of text so that it makes sense with what you see elsewhere on the screen.

Yes, the conversion of Go Review to pdf served a purpose. But what's the lesson? It was done with permission, so it has no relevance to an OOP book where permission is withheld (for a variety of possible reasons). Also, I don't think it has set the go book market alight or increased the number of players (unlike some paper books). I am not opposed to it - I got a free copy as a contributor - but I have never looked at it, preferring to read though the paper copies.

I am working on something with several others that hasn't been formally announced yet. I don't have a firm date when it will debut, but I'm confident it will happen within a few months. Sorry to appear coy.

Regarding the Go Review & Go World pdfs, it's great you have the paper copies. Most people don't, thus the availability in electronic form is a wonderful thing.

I do have experience inputting long go texts and diagrams into "dynamic e-form", and I don't generally find it hard. The tools & methods I'm using are perhaps not widespread yet, but they're not exotic. It does require some time to do, but I doubt that it takes any longer than the preparation required for a traditional book. As a very rough guide I'll say that it takes me about a week of calendar time to convert an "average" go book. The actual number of hours required varies considerably depending on the kind of book (game commentary, instruction, problem), the number of diagrams, and whether either the text or diagrams are available in an electronic format. (recent paper books have text & diagrams available in formats like .doc & .sgf)

I'm not sure it's a "holy grail", but I do hope that it will: enable more people to access more go books, provide a more engaging way to study the material, and provide the financial incentive for authors & publishers to make more new & old material available worldwide.

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 Post subject: Re: Catching Scent of Victory by O Rissei
Post #35 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:52 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
I would be very annoyed if one of my own OOP books appeared as a pirated version.


...arrrrgh you under the impression that none of your books have been pirated? Or is it just the pirating of OOP books that you fear?

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Post #36 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:02 am 
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...arrrrgh you under the impression that none of your books have been pirated? Or is it just the pirating of OOP books that you fear?


There are books that have my name on them but where I sold the rights so I have no immediate interest. I know some of them have appeared in places they shouldn't have.

I have no illusions about the others, though. Some of my paper books have also been pirated in paper form, so it's not just about the internet. Ultimately it's up to go players in general to decide whether they want to form enough of a protective cordon to encourage more books to appear.

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Post #37 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 12:59 pm 
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imabuddha wrote:
You also note there are "virtually no advertising outlets". I assert that soon there will be a new outlet, with the potential to reach a very large (and growing) market. (the proof for this claim will come within a few months)
You have good ideas, but you haven't factored in the impact of the projects I'm working on. Obviously I can't talk about the details, but the proof that my projects will eclipse yours is forthcoming.

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Post #38 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:09 pm 
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hyperpape wrote:
You have good ideas, but you haven't factored in the impact of the projects I'm working on. Obviously I can't talk about the details, but the proof that my projects will eclipse yours is forthcoming.

:clap:

I look forward to seeing them!
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Post #39 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:55 pm 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
Ultimately it's up to go players in general to decide whether they want to form enough of a protective cordon to encourage more books to appear.


It's not so one-sided, unfortunately. Go books are relatively expensive, and the number of English titles seems to increase lately. At the current prices, I wonder if this doesn't mostly "milks" the existing buyer base, collectors more than others, rather than actually increasing the market.

Take you "Kamakura" for example. It's a wonderful book, but -- looking at Hebsacker, the primary German Go vendor -- it retails for 33 Euro. It's an excellent piece of writing and I bought it, but I did so partly to support original English go literature, not because I feel the price is all right. A little while ago I was shopping for a book gift for a friend. I went with an Asian 18 Euro book instead of Kamakura. Now, had it been 20 Euro, I would have picked it up for a total of 40 Euro (their copy and mine). The slightly higher revenue aside, this would have been an additional potential customer who might have ended up buying other books from Kamakura's author.

There's a reason why certain companies sell items below costs.

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Post #40 Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:22 pm 
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Mivo wrote:
Go books are relatively expensive...


Relative to what? In your example, Kamakura vs. an Asian go book, you are comparing the prices of go books, so yes, some are more expensive than others. But to say that go books are generally more expensive than other books...how can you determine this? Plenty of books cost 33 Euros. The price depends on lots of things such as content and demand, but I don't think go books are too expensive; I think the problem is that we want too many of them. :)

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