The Law of Computer Entropy

TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home » The Law of Computer Entropy is great post about how the Law of Computer Entropy (The market for your computer product tends towards zero over time) impacts the publishing industry. Interestingly, one of the model Mr. Sperberg suggest to deal with this is “Pay once, read any book — free all day (all week/month/year)” is already being used by O’Reilly with their Safari Bookself.

Via: Ongoing

4 thoughts on “The Law of Computer Entropy

  1. I know — isn’t it great!

    Well, it’s good anyway. Kind of expensive. I’ve subscribed twice and let my subscription lapse twice.

    Anyway, it’s one model that can work, and maybe still needs to be tweaked. I think they’re using the economics of print books in the way they’re thinking of the information being provided.

    Imagine if it was priced more like Time or Newsweek, and you had thousands more computer books — wouldn’t that be a deal you couldn’t pass up? And they could do that if they sold to lots more programmers. What if every O’Reilly book included a subscription to Safari? Think about it — how many O’Reilly books do you own, and how often do you buy one? If you typically spend $40 a year on O’Reilly books and they get you to spend $60 for Safari (where the marginal costs are extraordinarily low), shouldn’t they be trying to sell you their whole library rather than just individual titles?

    Anyway, lots of ways to make more money on this content, and enable the user to get more from their expenditures than they got in the past.

    — Roger Sperberg

    Teleread (e-books: )
    Electric Forest (digital libraries: )

  2. I have not ever subscribed to Safari. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, it is a bit expensive but if my second issue where fixed that might be okay. Second, ready a book online sucks. It is just so much more enjoyable to read a book from paper than a computer screen (for starters paper does not make my eyes hurt). A well designed ebook reader could probably solve this problem but it has got to be cheap (<=$100US). I am not going spend a bunch of money on a reader just so I can spend a bunch of money on ebooks.

    But I like the idea a lot. :)

  3. Funny you should mention that. It’s a big deal, and this aspect really does make Safari unsavory.

    But the Nokia 770 is coming out sometime soon, with an 800×480 screen with 225 pixels per inch. It’ll have wireless and weigh 8 oz, so it’s intended not to be your working computer but your reading computer (and music and other stuff, too, of course). With that $350 device in hand, or one of its successor competitors, an online book distribution method will work a heckuva lot better than currently.

    So I am following every aspect of the 770’s development and also working to create html templates that will assist in reading texts online, for the very reason you specify.

    Right on the mark, Peter.

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