TOR drops DRM

This piece in the Guardian announces the decision by Tom Doherty at TOR to drop DRM from all ebooks published by the venerable SF/Fantasy imprint. The article fails to look at how this is clearly a blocking move on behalf of Macmillan which is embroiled in the Department of Justice’s price fixing lawsuit.  The real issue here is control. Since it is pretty clear that Amazon and the DOJ are likely to win the “agency model” battle, then removing DRM presumably lessens the hold that Kindle has on TOR’s books. The SF author, Cory Doctorow (who incidentally is published in the UK by Harper) is quoted as saying:

This might be the watershed for ebook DRM, the turning point that marks the moment at which all ebooks end up DRM-free. It’s a good day.

I say, this is game theory at work!

Datapoints #1

In the Wall Street Journal on Monday September 12, 2011 there was a fascinating article on the U.S. macro economy entitled, “As the Middle Class Shrinks, P&G Aims High and Low.” The article presents a kind of mini-case study of how America’s largest consumer products company (their sales were a staggering $82.6 B last year) is responding to the widening income gap brought on by the recession.

If you read and other left-leaning blogs, you would have heard about about the Gini Index which tracks income inequality. This was the first time I had seen it mentioned in the Journal. Until now, I was unsure whether the Gini was a propaganda tool. However, the article states that according to the Gini index, “We now have [an income gap] similar to the Philippines and Mexico.”

This is a startling datapoint and giant corporations like Proctor & Gamble and McDonald’s are already responding to it by changing-up their product offerings.

Another interesting datapoint mentioned in the article gives a definition to something that every American cares about, the middle class:

In the wake of the worst recession in 50 years, there’s little doubt that the American middle class–the 40% of households with annual incomes between $50,000 and $140,000 a year–is in distress.

The name that Citigroup execs have given to the shrinking middle is the “Consumer Hourglass Theory.”

A story on NPR this morning explicitly mentions something that has haunted me for quite some time: the notion that my standard of living might shrink from that of my parents and grandparents–that the American Dream is in decline. This is something every American needs to care about and should be the basis for our national conversation during this election season.

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