Sunday, October 19, 2014

Why Wellington (and Sheldon) Fear the Internet

Last week’s chump-riddled op-ed by former Denver Mayor and current Adelson flunkey Wellington Webb has been torn apart elsewhere by Dan Cypra and Michelle Minton, but I had a slightly different angle as to why it sucks.  And to explore this, I must ask you to compare iPads and oranges…

Basically, Webb thought those who would gamble on the Internet to be “chumps” because it was so AVAILABLE.  He made some of the worst analogies, saying that "Allowing internet gambling is like having a fast food restaurant in your living room."  He also made the comparison to alcohol (Sheldon took the drug reference at G2E), saying that it was like having an alcoholic live in a bar 24/7.  So the idea is this – having something more accessible, even if it’s the same type of thing available in a slightly different mode or delivery system (and specifically one you don’t own) is a bad, bad thing.

So here’s MY analogy, specifically as it relates to the Internet’s effect on how people deal with money.  Let’s look at the Internet’s impact on books.

Back in the day, books came in lots of sizes, colors, and genres, but they ALL came in print and they ALL came from something called a “bookstore.”  You went to Borders (I used to shop at the original store in Ann Arbor – a favorite childhood haunt), or Barnes & Noble, or the local bookstore (remember those?), or even one of the many used book shops around, and you paid your money and took your book home to read and enjoy.

And then, in 1994, Jeff Bezos created the PokerStars of books – Amazon.

My memory is a little rusty, but I don’t remember any legislation introduced that would ban people from buying books online.  I do remember many in the industry who thought Amazon had a snowballs’ chance in a Vegas summer of making it.  And here we are.

But our question pertains not to Bezos’ billions, but to the general public.  Did having access to the Internet and Amazon (and then and all the others) mean that suddenly  millions of books flooded homes across the country, and that wigged-out nerds, already processing sci-fi thrillers at a pace of two per week, overindulged to the point of paper-cut exhaustion?

Hardly.  If you know anything at all about the publishing industry, it’s that book sales have been flat for a long, long time.  Yes, more book titles are PUBLISHED today than in years past, but sales volume remains about the same.  And despite the creation of the eBook, the total number of sales (actual number of books, not dollar amounts) is in decline.

So despite increased access, the public’s behavior didn’t really change all that much, and no one had reason to fear online booksellers from creating a well-read citizenry, putting books in everyone’s hands every day.  But there WAS change - with the introduction of the eBook, it did change they METHOD some got their reading fix.  We can’t say, “Adieu, print…it was a good run (of more than 550 years),” just yet, but certainly eBooks are set to take over as the dominant method of reading…and soon.

Check out the graph from the link… 

THIS is what Sheldon fears.  Not that everyone will be gambling 24/7, but that the same level of gambling will go on…and that some of it will go on online.  And given how many other industries have seen paradigm shifts because of the Internet…music, movies, money, marketing, mail, media,..hell, that’s just some of the “m’s”…it’s a no-brainer that online gambling will nibble, then bite, into the billionaire’s share.

We’ve seen it back before Black Friday.  Sheldon saw it, too.  That’s what he’s afraid of, and that’s why he sends out his minions to spread fear-mongering drivel across the land.

Because he’s the one that is scared.

No comments:

Post a Comment