(1) First, there was some discussion of having Electronotes available on a CD. Either we or someone else would make it available on some terms and conditions which might or might not be agreeable or even practical. There is not the slightest doubt that this would be the cheapest and most convenient form to mail it about the US and the world. But this is the only thing about the idea that is clear in even just its practicality.
Most people of my acquaintance (and age and eyesight!) do not like to or cannot read documents on a computer screen. For myself, I can write on a screen but I can't proofread (or necessarily read something someone else wrote) on a screen. I need a hard copy in good light, and as importantly, I need to be able to scribble on the hard copy if I am to make actual use of it. I absolutely hate to scroll through a long document on a screen looking for something. Generally a book can be opened to a relevant section in seconds. Browsing through a book involves moving the eyes naturally left and right. Browsing though a document on a screen takes forever and gives one a headache. The "paper" moves and the eyes (and or head) move up and down trying to follow. If the scroll speed is fast enough to not take all day, it is so fast that an extra millisecond hesitation on the mouse key leads one to wonder if a whole paragraph or even several pages have disappeared unnoticed into the floor or ceiling!
In consequence, I think a CD would only be of use in certain cases. It would be useful to people who do have the talents and perceptual facilities to view documents on a screen. Presumably some such people exist. It would also be useful to someone who was trying to save shipping charges who has an economical means of converting the whole thing to paper on the receiving end. Because this would be about 8 hours of laser printing for one sided copies, this seems an unlikely choice. The only remaining scenario would seem to be people who would only want to print out a few pages or who just wanted the collection for possible reference. That is, people who do not want to read it in the sense of actual study.
Another interesting question is what would be on the disk. Presumably - everything. But a few months after the disk (or run of disks) was made there would be new material to add. How does this join its predecessors? Do you order a new disk. Does it come over the internet?
Would the CD be secure, or would it soon be pirated to the point where few people would care to pay for it rather than just grab a free copy that is going by? Sounds like the MP3 scenario. What would happen to my attempts to sell paper copies even if rampant pirating did not occur? I don't know. [ Is this CD a legal or an illegal copy? Right now, any CD of our material would be illegal. That's simple. ]
Now, along with the suggestions that a CD be made available, some people commented on what they saw as the obvious advantage to me. First, they said I would not have to stand in front of the copy machine whenever a new order came in. Wow! Do the math! I estimate that we have nearly 6000 pages in the "Everything" package. If I could slap an original on the glass every 10 seconds, it would take 17 hours to make a full set. And we have not done our own copying for about 15 years, so we would have to pay someone to do the copying. And the originals are not in great order or always in good repair. There are four file drawers of originals. Even an agnostic would say a prayer while approaching this cabinet (please, please be there!)
Of course we do not make copies one at a time. Most of the materials we have on the shelves or boxed away. This overprinting of older materials is, incidentally, why we can still offer the everything package for less than 5 cents/page. (These stocks, along with the time we took to produce the intellectual material, constitute our investment in Electonotes. And Electronotes still owes us! We have to get more back.) Making up a full order actually takes only 20 to 40 minutes. This does not suggest that we do not reprint. Just about every full order turns up an item or two which we have run out of. This leads to the problems of finding (and often repairing) usable originals. But - I only have to locate and repair selected items - not the whole 6000 pages - at any one time. Then there is the new investment in printing a couple of years worth. Yes - a CD would be easier - if it did not kill the paper business, or people did not want paper copies. Posters suggest that the CD business would be lucrative. What do you think?
Here is how we can think this through. Let me make the following offer to any responsible person: I will enter into a contract with you, and offer you the exclusive rights to produce and sell CD's containing the available Electronotes materials. You can sell as many as you want at whatever price you want. I will provide you with a full set of copies for your originals.
You will agree to the following: You will pay me $X on the signing of the contact and $X on the anniversary of the signing for a minimum of five years. You agree that I can continue to sell paper copies, and that Electronotes and I hold all copyrights. You agree that all your advertising and promotion will make it clear that with regard to the CD's, the customer is dealing exclusively with you, not with Electronotes, and Electronotes has no obligation to them. In short, for a yearly fee, you get the "lucrative" CD business! You cover your expenses (scanning, CD production, postage, bad checks, etc.) and make your yearly license payment to me, and you keep all the rest as profit (or perhaps you are doing this for free - it's up to you).
So - - - What is X? Clearly, to me X is the amount of profit I would expect to loose for not making a paper sale. Fair enough? I have a reasonable way of estimating this. For you, X is an amount you expect to be able to pay me and still have a successful business. This is a matter of estimating your sales, your expenses, and setting your prices. I do not have much of an idea about this - hopefully you do. Do you suppose that X should be zero? Well, keep in mind that I do not watch TV, but I presume there are still people on late at night telling you you can make a fortune with no money invested. If you believe them, go with them - please not with me. (For example, I have to pay up front for the paper copies which sit on my shelves.) X is your "at risk" investment, your incentive, which will also assure that you will take measures to prevent pirating of the CD, because you still have to pay me for five years even if something goes wrong. It is just a matter of trusting the ciber world.
The world is full of what seem to be good ideas. [Most universities have a way for students to suggest ways of improving lectures. The single most intelligent suggestion I have seen along these lines was that we should have a complementary donut and coffee tray at the door (a 9AM class!). Alas - no it did not happen. ] Let's have a CD sounds like another good idea. But in suggesting that someone else do it, I am asking other people to think it all the way through. And clearly considered, I am asking them to take the risk (I have not suggested royalties), and indeed to some extent, to insure me against their getting tired or not protecting the product.
But this is a serious offer. If you are interested, please submit a business plan and your notion of what X might be. If you are inclined to pass this offer along to others, do not paraphrase of abbreviate it, as there are at least three important subtle clues in the text, put there for the serious reader.