2048 – Shoplifters Of The World Unite III

Today I was totally uninspired. I rose late, couldn’t make myself get out, and when I finally did, I had no idea where to go, what to take photos of. I knew I had to go to the supermarket, so eventually I did. I had the full intention to give up and to use one of the images from my archives, but then, when I went to fetch a cart, I saw the pattern of that mass of carts, neatly stacked, lined up, but still forming a curve.

I tried three different lenses, the 45/1.8, the 14/2.5, and in the end I settled with the 40-150.

While we are at shopping, you may know that I’ve recently finished Asimov’s “Foundation” series, including the so-called “Second Foundation” trilogy. Much could be said about that, but that’s for another day.

I have still one Asimov left, “The End Of Eternity”, not directly part of “Foundation”, but closely related, and I want to save it for later. For now I crave for something completely different, the “Dying Earth” series by Jack Vance.

In my youth I have owned (but strangely never read) three books by Jack Vance in German translation: “The Gray Prince” and the first two of the three “Alastor” novels.

You know, I have given up on plastic and paper. When earlier I used to buy CDs and physical books, I now buy MP3s and eBooks. Thus I wanted to buy the four “Dying Earth” books as eBooks. What else?

Here I encountered a tiny little problem. Book one, “The Dying Earth”, is sold on Jack Vance’s own web site under his preferred title “Mazirian the Magician”. Unfortunately it’s the only one. For the missing books Vance directs us to Amazon and to the eBook series “Gateway“.

Indeed they have many books by Jack Vance, but of the Dying Earth series they have only three. Creatively they omit book #3 of the tetralogy. Is that cool? How can that be? What do they think? Do they think? Oh my!

Well, that’s it. The 50 books “Fantasy Masterworks” series has as book #4 the omnibus edition “Tales of the Dying Earth”, but unfortunately it is paper only. I really was pissed.

Can you remember the Oatmeal comic about the “Game of Thrones” TV series? Well, what could I do? I bought books #1, #2 and #4, and then I searched for an eBook of “Tales of the Dying Earth”. Surprisingly, although I did not find it for sale, I found it for free on a file hosting site, ALONG WITH ALL OTHER 49 BOOKS OF THE “Fantasy Masterworks” SERIES!!!! Talk about shooting yourself in the foot πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

Stupid, huh? And it’s not a scan of dubious quality. As far as I can tell, it must be a regular eBook, probably sold in some market other than mine. Really, I’m so sick of it, this industry is even more stupid than the rest of the content industry. It’s a disgrace! C’mon guys, I’m totally willing and able to buy, you just have to offer the goods. If you don’t and if I resort to what you try to make the world call piracy, just shut up and don’t complain. You’ve had your chance. Nobody forced you to apply for the Darwin Award.

The Song of the Day is “Shoplifters Of The World Unite“, this time from Morrissey’s 2008 album “Live At Earls Court”. See him perform live in Manchester.

4 thoughts on “2048 – Shoplifters Of The World Unite III”

  1. I haven’t yet switched to e-books, but the biggest obstacle is indeed the availability of those books I want to read. Also, I’m an avid user of the public library, and currently there is very little available electronically. I wonder how this thing can be so hard to do right.

    1. I think the main problem is, that the whole world’s economy converges against the US system: Everything is privately owned and controlled, everything is operated for profit and, more so, is expected to do so. That’s the result of 30 years of conservative backlash. They’ve worked hard to get it into our minds, and now that it is there, it’s extremely hard to overcome.

      I absolutely accept that art is fostered by commercial success. When you make art to an extent that you can’t possibly do it without doing it full-time, you’re better in a position to be able to make your living that way.

      On the other hand, it’s not about the artists. Asimov is dead. Admitted, his second wife still lives and so do his sons, so maybe there’s even a case for the protection of an author’s work after his death. Maybe.

      But then: once something has been published, it becomes part of our shared history. Asimov told his stories, but it were our dreams that were fueled by them. We have a strong interest in having those stories available.

      Copyright protection originally was a deal between the author and the public. An author got protection (and the society spent tax money on that) and in return he made his works available. It’s two sides: we grant them a temporary monopoly (currently for much too long), gaining the availability of our cultural heritage.

      If they don’t keep to their obligations, why should we keep protecting them? And really, THEY are not the authors, THEY are the publishers and all the other parasites that once had a function and now, in a digital age of direct distribution, cease to do so.

      The problem is exactly that the capitalist mind does not accept the idea of cultural heritage. They see no obligations on their side, and in a weird and convenient partial blindness they funnily expect us to keep to ours.

      It’s often said that the market is the solution to all problems. Don’t regulate and the market will do the right thing all by itself.

      That’s plain wrong. The market is completely unable to achieve great things. The Americans were on the moon, not because the market brought them there, but because a strong, central government was in place and because it could wield the threat of war and the baton of national pride. No market anywhere.

      General availability of our cultural heritage to the public is a greater good and the capitalist does not believe in greater goods. It would need a radical shortening of copyrights and a strict two-side deal between public and authors. It would maybe need a state-operated (or better internationally operated) infrastructure to achieve this. Tell that to a Republican or one of our so-called Conservatives (best of them the so-called Christian Conservatives) and the best you may earn is a moan.

      Therefore we will have to do with what they give us, and when need is, we will supplement it by utilizing our own internationally operated infrastructure πŸ™‚

  2. At the Ministry of Education and Culture I’m currently involved (thought this is not my main responsibility) in things related to cultural heritage in the so-called “National Digital Library” project, which is trying to preserve and make available (also for the next generations) material from Finnish libraries, museums and archives, for all kinds of uses.

    But the complications seem enormous, and when the commercial side seems to be a) overly aggressive and b) shooting their own foot, I feel there is a real possibility of the situation developing into very bad directions. I hope I’m wrong.

    1. So do I, although, since I read Asimov’s “Foundation”, and especially “Forward the Foundation”, where the Galactic Empire for the first time obviously and visibly for all goes down in steep decline, I have seen so much similarities to our own world and situation, that I really believe that a decline of technology is possible. Once that happens, well, everything we do and use works because a long chain of supporting processes is in place.

      As a child and youth I firmly believed in steady progress. I am not so sure any more πŸ™‚

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