Afghanistan depresses me. You can't win in life without occasionally going to war. That's true in my business. No, publishers shouldn't be thinking I'm a jerk. But every once in a while one of them should be mad at me about something. So yes, I have strong liberal tendencies. I sometimes wonder why the US still has troops pretty much everywhere it ever put them, with the possible exception of Viet Nam. But going into Afghanistan in 2001 was a must in my book, and deserved more and better follow-through at the time. The problem is that we're trying to make up eight years later for things we should have done six or eight years ago. I kept thinking as I watched the West Point speech that these cadets were 10 or 12 years old on 9/11. And all these years later... Well, we can't set up an Afghan army or police force with illiterates. So we need to build schools to educate people so we can then train them to be killed defending their country. But it is awfully hard to justify building schools in Afghanistan when we have a serious funding crunch for needs here in the US. I don't want to be there for $30B a year, I don't want to not be there, I don't envy the President for having decide between so many bad options.
Some publishers are delaying the release of their e-book editions that are selling for $9.99 to protect their $27.95 hardcovers. Enh. The problem with this isn't the $9.99 e-book, it's the free one. The ultimate threat to publishing is the illegal file share, especially because publishers and authors don't have the ancillary revenue streams in ring tones or merchandising that the music industry does. For the publishing industry to transition, it would be like going to a convention that would cost five times as much as it costs now, then paying ala carte for each panel, then having all that revenue split with the authors. Yeah, right. People who pay $250 for an e-book reader will want to read things on it when they want to read them, and I think we're better off risking our hardcover money than risking that it will become as acceptable in publishing to get for free what you can't or don't feel like paying for than it has become in the music industry. I can worry about what e-books will do to my bottom line. I can have nightmares about file sharing.
And over the course of 2009, the Google settlement and the presence of illegal file share sites got me to thinking that the publishers should provide authors with a free copy of their e-books just like they would provide them with 10 or 20 paperbacks. This was something new, I wasn't expecting to find every publisher would instantly agree to something new, but it's been surprising to me just how resistant they've been.