Thursday, April 8, 2010

Daily Thoughts 4/8/2010

Daily Thoughts 4/8/2010

Wrapped In Plastic

I had a new experience yesterday. I found out that plastic coated paper labels for books cost four times as much as plain paper labels. This makes sense as far as the idea that if you wrap it in plastic it must be worth a lot of money. It is not a particularly logical idea.

But, if you watch what happens with books and comic books and plastic packages, you learn that something must be a lot more valuable if it is in a plastic dust jacket or sleeve. A comic book store can put a comic book in a plastic sleeve with a small piece of cardboard and charge at least a dollar more for it. They can further claim that because it is in a plastic wrapper it is most likely collectible. This is also true with bookstores. The act of putting something in a plastic package means you must be trying to make it safe.

What is ironic about this is that plastic packaging is not particularly safe for books or comics. The plastic degrades and cracks easily. Most of the cheap cardboard backers are also not acid free. If you don't watch your collectibles, they can get damaged. Acid free paper envelopes and acid free hard cardboard boxes are what libraries use to store comics and other paper ephemera.

I have never been particularly enamored with this kind of packaging. The more complex the plastic packaging or labeling the more you have to pay as an end user. This however, is changing with ebooks, software, and other downloads. There is of course no plastic packaging to make it more expensive. In fact, publishers have a hard time convincing people to pay extra for images associated with ebooks or computer games downloaded online. It used to be, you would pay extra for the box art on computer games. These of course would be wrapped in mylar shrink wrap to make you convinced that the contents were special.

You can't wrap an ebook or a software download in plastic. There is also no cover so you can't really judge the content of an ebook by the cover. Well, the cover may be online, but I would much rather have a few sample chapters to see if I want to read a book, than an image.

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