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Harry Potter and the Entertainment Industry 402

Posted by michael
from the potter's-field dept.
VoidEngineer writes "In a surprisingly insightful article entitled Harry Crushes the Hulk, Frank Rich discusses how "Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix" beat out "The Hulk" and goes on to offer some insightfull and interesting comments on demographics, digital media piracy, file sharing and p2p networks, the iTunes store, and more... His conclusion? "[Consumers] may well be willing to pay for their entertainment -- if the quality is guaranteed and the price is fair."
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Harry Potter and the Entertainment Industry

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  • by DarkSkiesAhead (562955) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @05:14AM (#6323918)

    [Consumers] may well be willing to pay for their entertainment -- if the quality is guaranteed and the price is fair.

    Sheesh, what dunce claimed that? Clearly consumers are more willing to pay if you threaten and sue them. Duh.

    • Quality at a fair price will work. I have two eBooks of the latest Harry Potter and I read the first paragraph only.

      Frankly, I'd prefere to read the book than the ebook and I am even willing to by the hardcover as opposed to waiting for the softcover to come out in several months time.

      As for iTunes, I've spent about $15 so far. 15 songs I would not own otherwise from 15 albums I would never buy.
      • by bigman2003 (671309) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @10:36AM (#6324739) Homepage
        I have never purchased a hardcover book for full price. I've always waited for soft-cover, or found a hard-cover book on sale. This is because books are not usually the hype machines that movies are- I don't NEED to read them right now, because there are other things to read to fill the time before the book comes out. Hard-cover buyers are just suckers, who subsidize the industry for the rest of us.

        This was true until I found myself paying full price $29.99 for the latest Harry Potter.

        The last book (#4) was the best in the series so far, and I hope this just comes close. I haven't been able to read it yet though- there are two women in the house, so that makes me last in line....

        I do buy music- and I hate it. I would love to see something like iTunes on the Windows platform. The only thing that scares me about it though, is that people will only buy the 'hits'. Everyone I know has the same experience with music- you buy the album 'just for this one song', but USUALLY the depth of the album surprises you, and the song you initially liked ends up being the one you hate the most.

        So if we only buy the ones we like, a lot of music will never get noticed...

        Kid Rock's album (don't remember the name, but the one with 'Cowboy' on it) was actually a fairly solid album. Songs like 'Got One For Ya' and 'Black Chick White Guy' weren't played on the radio, that I heard, but they ended up being some of my favorites. Also, Uncle Kracker (hey, if you didn't like Kid Rock, you probably didn't buy this either) had a hit with 'Follow Me', but in my mind the rest of the album was much better.

        There are a lot of cases though were I know I don't want the whole album- usually older songs from one-hit-wonders that I want to put on some party CD or something like that. I mean, do I really want to purchase the entire Rose Royce collection, just to get 'Car Wash'? Although Rose Royce does have at least 5 different 'best of' albums, but I really don't want to pay for the rest of their music. (Interesting note, I saw Rose Royce at the Asparagus Festival in Stockton, CA. They played at 12:00 Noon...it was pretty sad..maybe I should buy their albums just so they don't have to do that again)

        Another example is the band Orgy. These guys are horrible- but they did a real good cover of New Order's 'Blue Monday'. I bought the CD...it was one of those rare occurances when I threw the CD away....even with one good song, it wasn't worth the piece of plastic it came on.

        So- when do I know the album has depth, and when do I know that I really do only want one song? I guess I will need to rely more on reviewers, and try to make better decisions. So I don't waste money.

        My problem with books is actually more complicated. If I don't like a book, I have usually spent quite a few hours to find out. I hate that waste of time- and of course reviews are only for hard-cover, so I never really catch on to those. I end up buying a lot of books I don't really like.

        Some good books though:

        Hole in the Head
        Slab Rat
        Carter Beats the Devil
        The Straw Men

        Blah blah blah
        • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Sunday June 29, 2003 @06:26PM (#6326985)
          The great thing about Apple's store is that you can preview every song, not just the hits (much better than Amazon where you can only preview half a CD)... and take a hint from the most popular downloads what are likely to be the best (not necessarily the ones with the most radio play) songs. That aspect alone really helps musicians sell quality songs, not just blockbusters... and also helps weed out the utter crap.

          I don't know if you saw the leaked results from the independent musicians meeting with Apple, but around 50% of the purchases were whole albums. That's another great indication that the movement to single song sales will not necessarily mean the elimination of the album as art form.
        • by King_TJ (85913) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @08:26PM (#6327544) Journal
          Actually, I think Apple's music store has a built-in (if un-intended) protection against people only buying the "hit" songs and missing out on possible great tunes on the rest of an album.

          They usually sell complete albums of songs for much less than it would cost you to buy each song individually for 99 cents.

          When you find even 2 songs you like on a given album, you often think "Hmm.... spend about $2.00 for just 2 songs - or get all 12-13 tracks for between $6 and $10?" If you end up only listening to half of the stuff, it was still a fair deal that way.
  • by TallEmu (646970) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @05:15AM (#6323922) Homepage
    ... I would certainly pay for accessible, reasonably priced, good quality music and video.

    I don't have an Australian Drivers licence, and my local video store requires *australian* photo ID. So, that counts me out as a video consumer. The last time I bought a CD was for *one* song I liked. I'd use ITunes if it were available out here.

    Sadly, I doubt that the companies will wake up and smell the coffee...
    • "I don't have an Australian Drivers licence, and my local video store requires *australian* photo ID."

      I have no idea what the government options are in Australia, but here in the U.S., if you don't have a drivers license, you can get a government ID card. (California information [ca.gov])

      One of the main reasons for getting an ID card is exactly the reason that you stated above -- so you can do business with stores/companies that require a valid government ID. (In the U.S., you can also use a military ID instead o
    • There's the 18+ card for Australians - no need for a licence.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 29, 2003 @05:17AM (#6323928)
    until they stop suing everyone and bribing my congressman

    (the fact that their stuff is overpriced crap makes this easier)
    • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @05:56AM (#6324019)
      I agree with your point, but IIRC Bloomsbury Ltd. is not a member of RIAA. And I wouldn't exactly describe the latest Harry Potter as crap, and am happy in the knowledge that my dollars were well spent on a hardbound copy.
    • Unfortunately, I think then, you'll be boycotting them forever.

      That said, there's plenty, plenty, of good non-RIAA stuff out there. The indie/underground/non-corporate/etc scene has always flourished and always will.
  • Hmm sounds familiar (Score:5, Interesting)

    by prockcore (543967) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @05:20AM (#6323932)
    "[Consumers] may well be willing to pay for their entertainment -- if the quality is guaranteed and the price is fair."

    That sounds familiar.. where have I heard that.. oh yeah, now I remember, that's how all the other industries work.
  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @05:22AM (#6323937)
    prices on entertainment goods aren't nearly as bad as I thought. I'd been complaining about how expensive it was being an anime fan boy, and saying I'd happily pay $5 bucks an episode for my anime. Then along comes the Nadesico Box set for $60. That's $2.30 an episode. At prices like that it's not worth the trouble of pirating it.

    And yeah, I paid $30 for Morrowind, but it'll be months, if not years, untill I'm finished with it.

    On the other hand, music goers into the lastest American stuff are still getting gorged. Then again I got John Arch's A Twist in Fate for $10 bucks, and lots of the stuff I liked when I was a kid (Judus Priest, King Diamond, Early Fates Warning, The Ramones, the list goes on) is getting released on the cheap.

    It's funny, but we fan boys aren't getting screwed nearly as bad as we used to. Anyone who paid $35 for 2 dubbed eps of Ranma 1/2 knows what I'm talking about. If the trend carries on like this, I'm gonna have to shut my mouth and start buying more stuff :).
    • Well some things aren't overpriced (I saw a DVD of scifi classic Logan's Run advertised for $4.95) but many are. I like The X-Files but each season costs $100-$135. That comes to about $5 per episode. They made 200 episodes. So that's $1000 to watch the whole series. Also, music is generally overpriced, thanks to their illegal market practices (fixing prices, acting as an oligopoly, etc).
  • Meh... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by syberanarchy (683968)
    Clearly consumers are more willing to pay if you threaten and sue them. Duh.

    Good news: The **AA's of the world now realize their respective business models are obsolete.

    Bad news: Their new business model consists of the following:

    1. Scan Customers' ports.
    2. Lawsuit
    3. Profit!

    In all seriousness, I really do think that these guys are deluded enough to believe that this could work - we can't make up our lost revenue because our product is not as culturally relevant as, say, video games; so let's

  • Bottom line (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jarlsberg (643324) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @05:24AM (#6323943) Journal
    The entertainment industry loves 15+ kids for their spending power, but loathe them for the grand scale theft of music and videos. However, they will pay for quality, ie. the fifth Harry Potter book, but won't spend the same kind of dough on an album with one hit and a lot of fillers. It's nice to finally see journalists getting the point so many in the Slashdot crowd have been trying to make for some time.
    • Re:Bottom line (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Wouldn't it be fair to say (in the case of the book), that they are willing to pay for something where the pirated version is qualitatively different (in a significant way) from the 'original'?

      When you buy a CD or DVD, you experience the data it contains in exactly the same way as you would with the pirated version; the same speakers, the same screen.

      A book is quite different - while the data may be identical, most people would far prefer the experience of reading from a bound dead-tree version than from
  • I read CS Lewis stories when I was a kid. They were fascinating. But why is this new thing sooo cool? I dont get it. My wife says its aimed at a lower grade audience, so why does she read it? I have read a few chapters of the HP and find it near tripe. I am not a fan of fiction anymore, I am an adult, and find the story to be a waste of time.
    • Sometime in the winter, an ethnology professor from Germany gave a lecture about Harry Potter in my university. She was so into Potter books, and she explained that it's because of all the mythology in there. And how Rowling has done an awful lot of research etc. Maybe it's the reason why adults read it. But I doubt if the children get even a quarter of the stuff she talked about (the phoenix is a symbol of rebirth and Jesus Christ and so on, it's named Fawkes after Guy Fawkes etc.). Made me even want to re
      • by mpe (36238) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @02:07PM (#6325715)
        But I doubt if the children get even a quarter of the stuff she talked about (the phoenix is a symbol of rebirth and Jesus Christ

        The phoenix predates Christianity anyway only a Christian would see an analogy. One interesting thing about the entire series is that virtually no character is assigned any kind of religious faith.

        it's named Fawkes after Guy Fawkes etc.).

        British kids would get this quite easily.
        A better example of some of the more obscure references would be that Hagrid bought Fluffy from a Greek man...
    • HP has many layers (moreso than narnia, IMHO), and I advise reading the first 3 books at least before passing judgmennt; the story and associations get darker and more adult.

      Also, try reading it looking for transformed existing mythologies .

      That said, If your time is currently so precious (or reading slow) that you cannot read ~1000 pages "just" for trying a new hobby, don't read it, wait for a better time .
    • to live with.

      People read fiction for the same reason they watch movies.

    • You find it a waste of time because you are an adult. Haven't you figured out that all the kids stuff sucks by now?!? ;)

      Seriously, times change, people change. What was hot with kids in 1903/1953/1978 isn't necessairly what's hot in 2003. Jesus I'm getting old...
    • I'll give you the reason:

      Hype.

      People are sheep. Please try not to be a sad sheep, don't defend this tripe you call literature.

      • by Robotech_Master (14247) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:14AM (#6324886) Homepage Journal
        Funny thing is, as the article itself points out, the hype came after the books, and from the other readers instead of the publishers. It's the literary equivalent of the Slashdot effect.
    • by AdamHaun (43173) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @08:02AM (#6324255) Journal
      Harry Potter is a children's story set in an adult world. As you go farther along, you begin to see that the HP universe is actually a very frightening place, where very bad things can happen to very nice people.

      Also, the characters tend to be far more realistic than you would expect in children's literature. Not all the good guys are nice, and not all the bad guys are mean.

      Summary: It's just a good story. Read more.
    • I am not a fan of fiction anymore, I am an adult, and find the story to be a waste of time.

      If you don't care for Harry Potter, that's fine, not everyone does. But by this statement you're implying that you don't read fiction because you're an adult, and I fail to see what one has to do with the other.

      My father is in his seventies now and still devours about three novels a week. He is a rather intelligent and well-educated man. He cared for my ailing and home-bound mother for ten years all by himself until she passed away a few months ago. All through that time he read tons of fiction. It helped him remain sane while he saw my mother deteriorate despite his best efforts. A social worker that visited him once said she was astonished at the quality of care he was giving my mother.

      Here is a man that is very much an adult. He shoulders his adult responsibilities seriously and with skill. Yet he continued to read fiction during that time. We need fiction as an escape, if nothing else, a way of immersing ourselves in another world as a way of recovering from the harsh realities of real life.

    • by FunWithHeadlines (644929) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @11:13AM (#6324883) Homepage
      " I read CS Lewis stories when I was a kid. They were fascinating. But why is this new thing sooo cool? I dont get it."

      That's because you are no longer a kid, and your tastes have changed. The Harry Potter books, which I have not read I will admit, are aimed at children, not at your level. From all I've heard, they are written well, but so is, say, the Judy Blume books that kids loved. Doesn't mean adults will find them of interest.

      " My wife says its aimed at a lower grade audience, so why does she read it?

      This is similar to something I have wondered about for several years: why do adults like the HP books? Cleary they weren't meant for them, and adults were clueless about the books until their kids discovered them and made a fuss. My theory is three-fold:

      1. The hype factor: When anything gets hyped a lot, people join in just to see what the fuss is about.
      2. The quality factor: The HP books are apparently well-written, not just hyped junk. The hype machine came after Rowling wrote the first few books. They are good books, simple as that. Again, I cannot speak from personal experience, but I have friends who have read the books and tell me what they think.
      3. The literacy factor: Adults are not reading as often as they used to, and the literacy level of adult fiction has lowered over the decades to keep up with the times. Compare a newspaper from a hundred years ago to one today. Compare a popular novel to one today. People like easier material. They get lazy. So when they pick up a HP book they find it's easy to read, contains a good story, and they feel as if they are accomplishing something.
      "I have read a few chapters of the HP and find it near tripe. I am not a fan of fiction anymore, I am an adult, and find the story to be a waste of time."

      Well, I find your concept of adulthood to be odd. Fiction is universally known as a window into the human condition. The best fiction tells us more about the world than the most thoroughly researched non-fiction. It says more in a glance than reams of charts and facts. So to hear you dismiss all fiction tells us why you don't like the HP books, but it also tells us something about you.

      Namely that you are probably just trolling. :)

  • by navig (683406) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @05:28AM (#6323958) Homepage
    I would love to be able to pay for my favourite songs but last week I found one of my latest CD purchases was copy protected.

    It was the Amélié Soundtrack CD I bought in Australia. Sadly the CD did not even mount in the Linux or Mac boxes I tried it on. :-(

    Both the original and replace CDs I tried worked on standard players but could not be mounted on a CD drive. Typical nasty BMG copy protection.

    I got my money back but even the store techie was surprised they had not mentioned the protection scheme on the packaging. He mentioned it was required in Oz. Is this true?

    Annoying because I want to show my support for a funky French film and was willing to put my money where my mouth was.

    If iTunes was available in Australia or the UK, then I would be buying that album online just to avoid the CD protection.

    From a consumer who actually pays for music...
    • He mentioned it was required in Oz. Is this true?

      No but it probably sounded good at the time.

    • They may make use of the same medium, but they are NOT CDs as defined by the original standards.

      Customers should take care not to buy CDs without the official CD label, and make use of their right to return defective disks that illegally carry this label.

      I have returned the last disc I bought, (and got a cash refund I may add) since it was one of those annoying 'protected CDs', was NOT labelled as such, and refused to play on my Pioneer system. I'll have to get the tracks through Kazaa now, and burn them
      • Customers should take care not to buy CDs without the official CD label, and make use of their right to return defective disks that illegally carry this label.

        Sometimes that label only is on the actual disc itself, which you can't really look at in some stores (because of anti-theft packaging or because you are not allowed to open the shrink-wrapping. Nearly all new releases are copy-protected, though--even bands you would expect to be opposed to such schemes. The labels don't even inform the artists whe
      • by navig (683406)

        The Amélié sound track CD carried the Philip's Digital Audio CD label. Still it was copy protected. :-(

        I mentioned this to the store and they just looked confused when I started talking about Red Book format.

        I got my money back after testing a second copy of the CD, the reason I gave for requesting the refund at the check out was that the CD was not a valid audio CD. :-)

        "Red Book - CD Audio

        - Defined by Philips and Sony in 1980 and published in a red binder, hence Red Book.

    • Well, I found that my new Sarah Brightman CD "Harem" is 'protected' - supposedly it works fine in Computers and such until you attempt to rip it - Yes well, I can still hear the glitches! In the end, I ripped the CD, eliminated the glitches and now experience a better quality playback (perceived) than off the CD.
    • If I purchase a copy protected CD which doesn't play in my computer I do a few things.

      First thing is I take it back to the store as it quite clearly doesn't fit the purpose it was intended for.
      Secondly, I download the album tracks using Limewire.
      Third thing is I go to the band's online shop (if they have one) and purchase $20 of merchandise.

      IMO, this is win-win - I get the music I originally wanted to purchase, I have some merchandise, and it's showing my support for the band.

      Granted, it's probably less tha

  • Pay... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by somethinghollow (530478) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @05:30AM (#6323963) Homepage Journal
    "...insightfull...insightfull..." Do you think he thought it was "insightfull"?

    Pay for just "good quality" and "fair price"? I wouldn't. I want good quality and fair price, yes, but fair use is just as important (if not more). If I pay anything for it, I want to be able to use it to it's fullest, whether that means ripping it to listen to on my MP3 player, burning a copy for my car, or putting it in the microwave. Then I'll buy it if I decide I want/"need" it.
    • .... Or, bringing a burned cd to a party and er, getting too drunk and forgetting it. Thusly, opening the door to more copies of said cd.. heh heh, I'm feeling a little RIAA'ish this morning. ;) Hopefullly it wears off soon..
  • Overall, a good article, and it draws some interesting parallels. However, I found one piece of the article to be very disappointing...

    "The question is: How do all those lovely entertainment-seeking kids weaned on 'Harry Potter' grow up to become thieves? Surely, they know that stealing copyrighted songs and movies is akin to shoplifting sweaters at the Gap."

    How can an author who is obviously intelligent enough to write an otherwise-interesting article sneak that in? Making a copy of music is NOT the same as stealing the original. Now, if I went to the Gap, bought one sweater, and then used my home cloning machine to make 50 more and ship them off to people on the Internet for free... that would be a fair comparison. However, "pirating" music (ugh, I despise that term) is not equivalent to stealing a physical good. If I steal one Gap sweater, that's one less sweater that the Gap has to sell... but if I make a perfect bit-by-bit copy of a CD and hand it to a friend, the original is still completely intact and able to be sold, used, or traded.

    It's disappointing that the author fell into the RIAA's trap on that point. However, the rest of the article is quite good. Good weekend reading...
    • by Espen (96293) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @06:43AM (#6324109)
      As you can see from the included quote the author wasn't claiming it to be 'the same as', but 'akin to' (which is not the same).

      Is it reasonable to claim that stealing music (by copying it) is similar to stealing goods? I would say it depends on which dimension of the act you are focusing on and why. As you point out above, the physical aspect of the act is very different, and the outcome for the victims is relatively different, but from the perspective of whether it is wrong to do it, that doesn't really make any difference does it?

      Btw. a book might make for good weekend reading; an article is something you read while on the toilet.
    • Ah, all excellent points. I think this really harkens back to good 'ol Billy G that basically, from the get go, told the home brew computer club that digital copies are theft.

      See, even more reasons to ban m$ products.

      That said, I have these discussions with friends and family all the time. I think while most people feel it's wrong to copy a cd/movie/etc, they do it anyway. The middle class can't always afford that $120 upgrade or $20 crap cd. Plus, movies are a frickin rip. They get to raise prices due to
  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki@@@cox...net> on Sunday June 29, 2003 @05:35AM (#6323978)
    however long they've hyped the Hulk. And the hype for Book5 was fan generated, not industry generated. The way Goblet of Fire ended, it's no surprise Harry fans bought up Order of the Phoenix. I'm sorry, with voldemort coming back from a near-death like state, cedric diggory dying and harry beginning to go nuts, you'd have your fucking underwear in knots too...

    And it's been damn near 3 years since Goblet too. So this basically adds up to a giant cash cow as long as Rowling doesn't screw the proverbial pooch and writes a terrible book.
  • by jericho4.0 (565125) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @05:35AM (#6323980)
    "That's merely the short list of hard-wired assumptions that were short-circuited by last weekend's publication of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.""

    This whole article asumes that Harry Potter is high art, and that it is a product that can earn 100 million while not being part of the hype machine.

    I've never read any of the Harry Potter series. I think I'd probably enjoy them, though. But I'm _very_ aware of them. The Harry Potter phenom is well covered in the media, and I doubt they would be so popular without the involment of the media.

    • by GMontag451 (230904) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @05:48AM (#6324006) Homepage
      I've never read any of the Harry Potter series. I think I'd probably enjoy them, though. But I'm _very_ aware of them. The Harry Potter phenom is well covered in the media, and I doubt they would be so popular without the involment of the media.

      The media coverage of Harry Potter started *because* of its popularity, it didn't cause it. I will grant that the popularity of the fifth book has probably been helped along by the media coverage, but remember, the popularity of the series was already quite entrenched when the fourth book was being anticipated. The fact that little kids were lining up to be the first to read a 700 plus page book on their own was what made the story newsworthy.

      • Yea, that's actually the first I heard of HP back then. The news reports of hundreds of kids lining up to read a thick book.

        I was like..and still am...wtf? Has the world gone nuts?

        On the other hand, I've read the books, and I'm not as surprised. They are very well done. His Dark Materials is a tad better, I think, but to each his own.
      • The media coverage of Harry Potter started *because* of its popularity, it didn't cause it. I will grant that the popularity of the fifth book has probably been helped along by the media coverage, but remember, the popularity of the series was already quite entrenched when the fourth book was being anticipated.

        Bear in mind, however, that Scholastic (publisher of "Harry Potter") over $3 million [cnn.com] to market the fifth book. The hype may have started with fans, but like anything else, it's been well-capital

    • Is it as good as they say?

      I'd like to see the marketing campaign that can get 10 year olds to sit and read -- nearly continuously -- an almost 900 page book that was actually crap. :)

  • Very nice article, but Mr. Rich has stated something down near the bottom that is not quite true.

    The question is: How do all those lovely entertainment-seeking kids weaned on "Harry Potter" grow up to become thieves? Surely, they know that stealing copyrighted songs and movies is akin to shoplifting sweaters at the Gap.

    How long is it going to take people to realize that there is a very big difference? I steal a sweater off the Gap, the store doesn't have it, I do. I download a song from the day's equi

  • by somethinghollow (530478) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @05:54AM (#6324016) Homepage Journal
    "Here's what's wrong with kids in the digital age. They live in front of their TV and PC screens. They steal music online. Their attention span is zilch. They multitask on everything and concentrate on nothing except video games. They will buy any trashy product that the media goliaths can sell them, then drop it as soon as the next big hype comes along."

    Isn't that the problem with adults in the digital age as well?
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @05:54AM (#6324017)


    That's the whole problem. The media companies want to invest their money in the sure sell, so we keep getting sequels and boy bands.

    For media-based entertainment products, "quality" involves a bit of variety, a bit of risk.

  • by Gryftir (161058) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @06:18AM (#6324061) Homepage
    I watched the development of the 5th book being scanned for distribution over an irc book trading channel.

    On Friday Night/Saturday Morning: First Chapter scanned and proofed. The whole book has reportedly been scanned, and is being proofed. Scans are available of both versions of the cover.

    Saturday Afternoon (I wake up) Told the proofed version will be ready by 8 pm. Rough versions of all the chapters are available. people looking for the book are being send to a seperate channel. A website has been established where one individual has taken the rough chapters and has been proofing them himself, and posting them online.

    Sunday Afternoon book has been proofed and is combined into a html file with the cover images. This is turned into a .rar archive and available for download.

    This comment doesn't really have a point. I will say I purchased a copy of the book, and I was personally involved with the scanning. I just want people to be aware of the existence of scanned books, in the hope that it will enhance this discussion.

    Gryftir
    • by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:10PM (#6325131) Homepage Journal
      And I thank you, sir. My wife is blind. Frequently, books are not available, or are prohibitively expensive. There are electronic aids to display text via 'refreshable braille', but none of the major book publishers see fit to distribute their works in a format compatible with them. Thanks to 'bookwarez', my wife can read almost anything she wants. Download the html or whatever, convert to text, and load it into a reader. Usually, she reads the same books I read, so we already have a hardcopy. You and your brethern have helped me excercise what I view as my fair use rights to format shift my books.
  • by nagora (177841) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @06:31AM (#6324084)
    He thinks the HP books are "quality" (as opposed to bland, if rather jolly, easy-reading) and the Matrix was a "burst of big-studio originality" (as opposed to a trawl through the last 50 years' of SF writing).

    TWW

  • I confess (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dogun (7502) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @06:31AM (#6324085) Homepage
    I actually hunted down a copy the new HP book online the day it came out; after failing to find it in bookstores. Then, I found it again online, the no-shipping variety, and finished the book before it even arrived last wednesday.
    Though I'm sure the author would love to sue me for saying so, you don't lose too much in reading the electronic format. Unlike music or a movie, however, a book is something we don't always finish. A bad book we put down. When we finish a book, we know that it was at least readable.
    I guess what I'm saying is that I've never finished an ebook without suffereing the immediate compulsion to grab myself a copy of the real deal. Movies, music, anime, tv... these things are more impulse buys. I would never buy them in the first place normally, but after being exposed to them in a way I wouldn't have been in the first place, I at least have a reason to purchase them.
    A book is something I cannot avoid purchasing if I enjoy it. Don't ask my why, I don't know. But I suspect that I am not alone in this; I also suspect that as much as a mediocre amount of piracy can help music sales, it can probably be a great boon for the sales of a less popular book.
    I'm not saying "Go forth and pirate books!"; I'm just saying that maybe having people get exposed to your book, no matter how it happens, results in drastically increased sales?

    Thoughts?
    • Re:I confess (Score:4, Interesting)

      by omnirealm (244599) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @09:51AM (#6324586) Homepage

      I actually hunted down a copy the new HP book online the day it came out; after failing to find it in bookstores... Though I'm sure the author would love to sue me... I'm not saying Go forth and pirate books! I'm just saying that maybe having people get exposed to your book, no matter how it happens, results in drastically increased sales?

      I noticed an interesting image [nytimes.com] in the article. It shows two kid sisters in a public library at 1:00am; one of them is dressed up as Harry Potter and it sitting by a bookshelf rack reading the new book. These kids did not pay a dime to read the book. I am quite sure that dozens upon dozens of people will be checking that copy out to read it, again with no money going to the author or to the publisher (except, of course, the money from the library's original purchase).

      I cannot help but wonder what Ms. Rowling or other authors and publishers think of this kind of thing. Obviously, they cannot speak out against public libraries, without inciting the wrath from the public at large. Libraries are something that we grew up with. They are institutions of learning that our founding fathers, like Thomas Jefferson, felt were essential for any progressive society.

      Yet the same people who would become incensed about the public library being challenged would not think twice about condemning the sharing of a digital copy over the Internet. I am sorry, but I simply fail to see the fundamental difference between the two. Both mediums allow me to read the book without paying for it.

      Perhaps this newfangled Internet thing and its implications are too radical a paradigm shift for the public at large, and they cannot deduce the obvious analogies to how things have been being done in the non-digital world for centuries.

      Oh, and I can just as easily walk into my local library and checkout out a CD or a DVD. As the media oligopoly tightens its grip on our society (please, no Star Wars jokes), it seems that they will have to attack libraries themselves in order to follow through with many of the assertions they have been making to their inevitable conclusion.

  • by Dark Lord Seth (584963) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @06:40AM (#6324104) Journal

    Did anyone else think of that subject as the title of a new Harry Potter book instead?

    • Did anyone else think of that subject as the title of a new Harry Potter book instead?

      The funny thing is that the fourth book was in a way about the entertainment industry. It showed how the media can make people believe things that aren't necessarily true.

      The latest one (#5) continued this thread, and also delved into the world of politics and corrupt (i.e. self-serving) governments.
    • unworkable (Score:3, Funny)

      by alizard (107678)
      What's a good guy going to do about the Hollywood entertainment cartel?

      I don't think Rowlings is going to turn Harry Potter into Rambo, or that the audience would go for a happy ending full of burning buildings and either corpses or people screaming in death agony.

      Come to think of it, I'd find that entertaining.

  • by nzyank (623627) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @06:40AM (#6324105)
    If I had more than a few minutes or really cared I'd pick the article apart point by point, but the main point is that the Harry Potter series was no doubt very popular in book-only form, but would NEVER have sold $100M worth of books in a weekend without the HP movies and the media hype.

    Normally I'd agree in the conservative estimate of 2 readers per book, but I think that a large portion of sales are driven by a 'me too' mentality. I'd put readership at more like .5 readers per copy. Really.

    Would anyone care to bet against me that sales of Tolkien's LOTR and The Hobbit books skyrocketed because of the movies and not just because everyone suddenly, simultaneously and miraculously figured out that they're just really good books (which they are)?

    Face it. These people (a lot of them) buying the new HP book are buying it because everyone says they have to and to get a preview of the next movie.

    The Hulk just happens to have had fewer big-budget movie prequels than HP (not counting the low-budget Bill Bixby junk) and LOTS less media hype. The Hulk CG also sucks from what I've seen in the trailers. Hopefully I'll change my mind when I watch the DVD in 6 months.

    Gawd I hate faulty (I think the word is 'specious') reasoning almost as much as I hate the knuckleheads who believe the faulty reasoning simply because it was written in the NY Times. Probably mostly the same knuckleheads who stood in line to but the latest HP book so that it could sit on the coffee table to show everyone how smart their knucklehead kids are because they can read.
    • Face it. These people (a lot of them) buying the new HP book are buying it because everyone says they have to and to get a preview of the next movie.

      Wrong.

      Look back at the sales of the previous books. You will find they were just as popular before anyone ever announced that movies were going to be made of the books. And note that WB has not committed yet to movies past book 3 (someone correct me on this if I'm wrong). So there is no guarantee that books 4 and 5 will ever make it to a screenwriter.

      Kids ar

    • Face it. These people (a lot of them) buying the new HP book are buying it because everyone says they have to and to get a preview of the next movie.

      Uh, the Harry Potter book that will be the basis for the next movie came out years ago. The fact is that the Harry Potter series was a children's literature sensation before even the first movie. I'm sure the movies have contributed the popularity of the subsequent books, but the first movie was highly anticpated because of the books.

      Yes, the books sell lar

  • by BenjyD (316700) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @07:00AM (#6324134)

    and, assuming a very conservative average of two readers per book, a larger audience as well.

    People are sharing books! Quick, send in the licensing police. That's $100 million in lost sales. This new trend in book piracy must be stamped out before our book industry is ruined.

  • by SailorBob (146385) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @07:19AM (#6324175) Homepage Journal
    The music business's travails -- the top 10 albums sold 33 million units in 2002, down from 60 million in 2000 -- are attributed to Napster, which arrived just as the first "Harry" novel did, and its current successors, led by KaZaA. The recording industry has tried litigation, legislation, education and invective to end file-sharing piracy, all to little avail.

    Anyone else getting tired of this? I mean, can't reporters make the connection? When was the economy at it's peek? In 2000. What has it been doing since 2000? Going into deeper and deeper recession. What does that mean? People are spending less money on goods and services.

    What?! The entertainment industry saw a drop in sales during a worldwide economic recession? It must be the pirates fault!

  • I noticed a number of stories artificially comparing Harry Potter and the Hulk movie. The goods aren't the same since they aren't directly competing with one another. For example, I spent more money on my car's transmission last week than I did on Harry Potter books. Does that mean that I think Harry Potter would be less entertaining?

    Also, the author IMHO compares unfairly the Hulk with the newest Harry Potter book. My suspicion is that the amount of money spent on marketing is probably the same order of

    • The series got off the ground by word of mouth from kid to kid ... "When Volume I, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," was published in America in September 1998, its first printing was 35,000, with a promotional budget of $100,000." "The New York Times, for instance, did not review the first "Harry" until five months after its publication. By that time, "Sorcerer's Stone" had been on the Times's fiction best-seller list for 14 weeks".

      They spent about 3.5 million in advertising for HP#5 ... and ther

  • For every person I know that was reading or has read a copy of the book last weekend, I know someone who downloaded the entire thing off fucking Kazaa and read it off the screen.

    Wonder if the media will ever notice?
  • Somewhat right... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gotacap (663393) * on Sunday June 29, 2003 @08:29AM (#6324328) Homepage
    Although not completely. Until January I lived in Dallas TX where Movie Theaters were pleantiful, and the only times I downloaded movies from P2P were when I saw them in theaters already and enjoyed the movie enough that I wanted to have it available to view at my leisure until the DVD release. Indeed, being a Potter fan myself I downloaded the CoS movie only after seeing it in theaters with my young nephew twice. And had a copy of the DVD preordered as soon as the release date was scheduled. I had never downloaded movies that were already out on Video and DVD because it was simple for me to rent them, in fact I worked at Blockbuster mostly so that I could rent for free and get a discount on purchasing the ones I really liked.

    Now things are different for me. Now I live in the small town of Robbinsville, NC. There are 2 video rental stores both with poor selections and no movie theaters at all. I love movies, so yes, I admit, I download movies that I used to go to theaters to see, cause otherwise I have to wait for the rental. For movies that have been out a few months however... I now use netflix as my rental source, I still don't prefer to P2P, as the quality isn't good and I personally believe that if I like something, I should pay for it so that the people who make it get the incentive to make more things like that.

    Money makes the world work, but the article does make a point, everyone targets the younger crowd who have no money to spend, yet they continue to raise their prices higher and higher till their target audience can't afford it anymore, of course they would turn to P2P. I mean movie ticket prices are somewhat rediculous, there are places that it costs $10 for a matinee ticket! Why would a kid want to shell out $10 for 2 hours of mindless entertainment, when they could pay $17 for a book that will entertain them for days. Even the audiobook version is 24 hours of entertainment. And what Rowling can do for young minds is far more magical then anything Harry learns at Hogwarts. For a long time children have fallen away from reading, the instant gratification world in which we live has bred children to not want to read, and in many cases, not be able to read. Yet J.K. Rowling has the most amazing ability to grab minds child and adult alike and make them crave more and more. Each book she releases longer then the previous, this one nearly 900 pages in length, yet children as young as 6 make it through it not once but multiple times. And when Rowling can't write fast enough for these eager readers, the children actually look to OTHER books. Rowling has done more for literacy then anyone in the late 20th century.

    Sadly it won't be enough, we live in far too much of a video world, Children come home from school and immediately turn on the TV to watch increasingly disgusting cartoons or play mindless video games, they do this until they go to bed, then get up and continue the next morning before school, when the weekends come instead of sitting outside under a tree reading a good book, they spend the whole day inside burning images into their eyes, and when they cannot get enough through TV and what movies they can afford to see in theaters, they hop online and download the rest of the available movies. Would the best thing be a reasonable price on entertainment? Or less entertainment with more quality to it?

  • by Fweeky (41046) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @08:56AM (#6324394) Homepage
    Sure, I'll pay, but not for DRM enabled "CD quality" (i.e. 64kbps) WMA, or even unprotected 128kbps MP3.

    Let me download a high quality FLAC (maybe even optionally at higher bitrates; 24bit 96khz would make audiophiles cream) so I can transcode to whatever format I like. Let me download a smaller MP3 or Ogg at a range of qualities. Let me have my full fair use out of it, and maybe charge on a sliding scale based on the different sizes. Hell, let me get it elsewhere and just pay for a cheap license so I can support my favourite artist.

    Let me not have to worry about whether some dumbass transcoded all his Ogg's from his MP3's encoded with Xing and ripped from a scratched CD in burst mode. Let me not have to spend 3 weeks downloading an album from a billion different encodes. Let me not have to wait for someone to post something to news and spend hours every day hunting through 100's of MB's of headers.

    If the music industry can't compete with slow annoying overloaded networks full of substandard rips of music that doesn't even come properly indexed, it doesn't deserve to make money.

    And no, pouring more money into lawsuits does not count as competing.
  • Retail Respect (Score:3, Insightful)

    by grasshoppah (319839) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @09:20AM (#6324473)
    It seems to me that there are two commercial camps that have very different methods of treating the consumer. One camp, consisting of the RIAA, MPAA, major media etc. has somehow established the mentality that we are OBLIGED to consume their products. They figure we can not live withou what they provide( at unreasonable cost and restriction ) and that we know it. Not only do we KNOW that we must have what they provide, but we WANT it. In short, they are not serving us, they do not respect us as discerning consumers.
    The other camp, such as independent bands, movie studios, book publishers etc. treat consumers with the respect they deserve. They recognize that people will use good (or at least some) judgment in their decisions and buy quality and originality. They are not requiered to purchase any one provider's product and thus the providers recognize the need to truly differentiate themselves from the rest.
    Sadly, though I'm not sure how, the method which does not serve the customers seems to be winning
  • by uncadonna (85026) <{mtobis} {at} {gmail.com}> on Sunday June 29, 2003 @02:15PM (#6325745) Homepage Journal
    I may be in the minority, but I thought The Hulk was a wonderful movie, capturing the feel of the Marvel Silver Age perfectly and exploring interesting new comix inspired visualization techniques. I think this movie will be remembered long after the Spiderman and Batman movies are forgotten. I also think it's a work that understands and uses technology both as theme and as tool brilliantly.

    Not to say the NYT article wasn't interesting.

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