Preface to the 2014 Edition
Times have changed since I wrote the introduction to the 2000 edition, which in places reads like a wild-eyed manifesto. The most relevant development is the emergence of digital stores—for music, movies, and of course books. "In ten years we will know whether legislation will be strong enough to preserve the capitalist business model," I wrote in 2000. Well. The digital store appears to be society’s answer to many of the questions raised in this book, and it came as a surprise to many of us who lived through the first years of the World Wide Web, when it seemed like society was about to be stood on its head by an invention greater than the printing press.
The social changes have been vast, and they’re continuing, but of the artists in 2000 marveling at the prospect of connecting directly with fans over the Internet, I don’t think many dreamed of massive online stores tended by major corporations. Yet artists have gotten their 70% (pretty good, historically speaking) plus discoverability and customer service, and consumers are even going along with the deal. This suggests to me that between the radical viewpoints of this novel compromise might be possible. Society has an answer, as I said, and if you bought this book legally maybe you agree with it.
Yet—the tension remains. We are imposing our own idea of commerce on products with a negligible marginal cost. The materialist in me does wonder whether the non-Euclidean reality of the digital world will ultimately have the final word.
Sheldon J. Pacotti
Austin, Texas: June 24, 2013