Used Computers Booming, How Come Computer Makers Don't Whine?

from the consistency-is-all-I-ask dept

Yesterday we wrote about how the used book market was booming and one of the highlighted issues was how some believe this must be damaging to authors and publishers (something we disagreed with for a variety of reasons). Yet, today, there’s a report about how the used computer business is booming as well… and we don’t hear anyone whining about how this is harmful for PC makers. Where’s the consistency?

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Comments on “Used Computers Booming, How Come Computer Makers Don't Whine?”

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Craig says:

Re: intuitively obvious to the most casual observe

Actually the RIAA did try to stop used-cd store a few years back. It got them nowhere.

Garth Brooks also complained about used CD sales, saying it should be banned because its costing him money. This made me vow that for as long as I live if I for some reason am going to buy really crappy music, it won’t be HIS really crappy music.

Rikko says:

Probably because of lifespan

A computer really only has a useful lifespan of MAYBE 5 years, and I think I’m being pretty generous with that. A book is good, well, forever. I’ve picked up first (well, first Canadian) editions of the Lord of the Rings, a 1960’s Gulliver’s Travels, and other little gems like tht from the used bookstore. If I pick up a used PC it’ll be in the dumpster within a couple years.

I will cede that I know a few people who are still running their original P90 with Windows 95 and are happy enough using dialup, but the vast majority I know are running XP..

warble says:

Re: Probably because of lifespan

The hardware, with exception of possibly the CMOS battery, and the drives (which are mechanical) has a much longer lifespan.

Most of what has limited PC’s is hardware improvments that the consumer wants, or software upgrades, or that windows needs to be reinstalled on a yearly basis.

I still have an old pentium running linux as my router, the hardware is what, 10 years old?

nostranonymous says:

Re: Re: lazy

OK that’s fine. Computers aren’t good forever or are like cars, etc.
Most of the complaining about this subject is most likely from the publishers or author’s guild and not so much the authors themselves. Of course, there are probably plenty of brainwashed authors that are too stupid to realize what’s going on (think metallica and the RIAA for a comparison) or are just plain lazy.
But here’s another important thing to think about. How long does it take an author to write a book? A few months? A year or 2?
Whatever the time frame, what makes a writer so special that they think they should get paid for something they worked on 5+ years ago? Yes, you write a new GOOD book and it sells because it’s new and popular (especially if you’ve made a name for yourself with past work). People buy it and you make money.
The rest of us have to work a 9-5 every day. I accomplish a lot during my day but I don’t expect my company to pay me for the brilliant work I did a year ago. I KEEP WORKING TO GET PAID. Why should this be different for an author?
In contrast, computers are constantly worked on and improved and new hardware is created for them. This helps resale of used computers because of all the new ones being created all the time.
The resale of older items like books and computers gives the newest additions the most value when they come in large amounts and are of quality.
Maybe if the complaining authors were actually good writers or wrote REGULARLY, they wouldn’t need to worry about whether their used books got sold. It would be even more beneficial for them if their used books were sold because more people would know about their work. And if it’s GOOD WORK, then they’ve made a name for themselves which in return sells more of their NEW work.
The authors that complain about this stuff are simply too lazy and expect to get paid the rest of their life off of one piece of work they did decades ago. This is probably also why they decided to be an author in the first place; so they didn’t have to work all the time. This, of course, instead of doing it for the love of writing and SHARING thier thoughts with the world.
The greatest authors are the ones who write for their readers FIRST, and write to get paid SECOND.

Rob says:

Re: Re: Re: lazy

The value of any product is what it can be sold for, not what you put into it. You say your company doesn’t pay you anymore for work you did a year ago. That’s because they have the rights to it. Don’t you think they expect to get paid a year from now by others for the services they provide using work you did a year ago?

If something is created that has lasting value, people will be willing to pay for it long after it was created. Where should that money go if it doesn’t go to whoever holds the rights to that work? Should it be made available for free? Why shouldn’t that decision be up to the rights holder? Are you suggesting copyright be shortened drastically?

You say the authors are lazy for wanting to keep getting paid for their work. I say you’re greedy for wanting something of value to you without paying for it. Who’s right? I think it’s just a matter of perspective. Is it worth what the creator put into it or what everyone gets out of it. You believe the former and I believe the latter.

All that being said, I think copy protection sucks. I should have the right and ability to do whatever the hell I want with any books, music, or software that I buy, except make copies available to other people. I don’t believe that a technical solution is possible to the problem of piracy that doesn’t drastically and unacceptably restrict my rights.

nostranonymous says:

Re: Re: Probably because of lifespan

But are we not taking into account the demands of new software? The value of an old computer goes down quicker because as a consumer or worker, you’d be at a disadvantage using, for example, the first version of Windows because that’s all your old hardware can run.

A computer 5 years old will not run all the resource draining programs that come out so regularly. So as a consumer, you sacrifice all the new software innovation (or at very least, performance) by buying old hardware and not buying new.

There is no comparable sacrifice with buying a 5 year old book and comparing its usability to that of a 5 year old computer.

Words are words and barely change over time making it the same experience years from now. New software is constantly improved and will not work on old hardware after a certain point.

Clever article, but not the best comparison in terms of usability.

psikeyhackr says:

Re: Probably because of lifespan

[quote]A computer really only has a useful lifespan of MAYBE 5 years, and I think I’m being pretty generous with that.[/quote]
I am wondering if this has changed and many people are still slow to realize it. Plenty of machines have been made obsolete by the changes in memory technlogy, from simms to dimms. Some computers are difficult or impossible to upgrade beyond some limit, like 256 meg. But as these limits rise the percentage of people who don’t need power beyond those limits will increase. I just bought a 1.3 GHz machine off ebay and a dual processor 1 GHz mobo with the CPUs and 4 gig of memory for a fraction of what they must have been new. This is more processing power than multimillion dollar companies would have had in the early 80’s. The question isn’t the age of the hardware or how much less powerful it is than the latest and greatest but whether the user knows what to do with it.
I’m using Windows 2000 at the moment but I dual boot with SUSE Linux 10.0. My goal is to get away from windows. To hell with XP and Mr. Gates with his license tracking.

jonathon chase (user link) says:

Used computers

I guess in a sense, used computers are like use cars, where you can always pass it down to other people, its relativly cheap in computer terms, and also that its easy to build a computer from scrap computer parts of the broken ones, especially since you can go online and download all sorts of drives needed for the hardware. Think of computers more like cars than like book and you’ll better understand.

Emelio says:

$200 computer

Sure, the used PC market is big business but you can’t compare PC’s and Books or even CD’s for that matter. Why is Dell going to be afraid of a person getting one of his older PC’s in the house. Home users are very loyal to a brand. The guy that sold the old one will want a new one and will likely go with the brand he owned before, whatever it was, because they’re the “best”. (generally speaking) Not techies, but mom and pop home users. They sell the old, get it into the a new home and buy a new one. The “new” owners will use it for a while, try to buy SW for it and realize that its a bit too slow. They’ll go out to the PC co’s web site and learn that a brand spankin new PC isn’t much more (if any) than they paid for the used clunker. In turn, they buy one and the cycle continues.

As for books.. screw the publishers. I buy used and I’m happy to continue. Thnk about it. Since we were raised, used books have been our lives. Used text books, used book stores in college, reusing former employees books in the office place… I mean, we like to reread books – and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m a fan of Hemingway.. Thing is, he’s dead. He doesn’t need the money any more. His family.. Who cares? They didn’t write the book. The publisher? Bah! $20 bucks for $.50 worth of paper and cardboard and another buck or 2 for printing and packaging.. Get lost. You bet I’ll buy used.

J S says:

No Subject Given

What’s damaging is publisher’s continuous revisions of books, especially mathematics books. How often does a theorem change or new mathematical discoveries happen, and goes into publishing? It’s ridiculous. I think used book martket should thrive even further because it doesn’t really hurt the authors who don’t get enough royalties as much as publishers do.

Bob says:

Books, eh?

Comparing a book to a computer like this is… well, apples to oranges.

The difference is one holds its value to the purchaser, the other does not. A better comparison would be a computer to a car, as both devalue significantly over time.

Publishers don’t like the used market because after 50 years its still the same book, whereas the 50 year old computer is a pile of junk. That is why PC makers and auto manufacturers don’t much worry about the second hand markets, they know you’ll be needing to buy from them again as time marches on. Conversely, the publisher knows you’re likely to buy just the one copy of the book.

One manufacturer makes money off you multiple times, the other only once. That’s the difference.

Yes it all boils down to money.. who knew?

Glenn says:

Used computer market

No one is complaining because they assume they will eventually get a kick back from the replacement parts or upgrade market closely connected to the used computer market. Until recently, I have only bought used computers and have replaced parts gone bad and upgraded different parts [software and RAM]. The used book market, on the other hand, cannot sell upgrades or replacement parts unless you figure in the sale of glue and plastic to cover the book.

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