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August 28, 2008

Staff Picks: Nick Hornby on Naked Economics

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 2:30 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

In Naked Economics, Charles Wheelan makes an analogy between music "piracy" and farming, writing "You spend all summer tending to your corn crop and then your neighbor drives by in his combine, waves cheerily, and proceeds to harvest the whole crop for himself."
Though an overall fan of the book, Nick Hornby disagrees with that specific sentiment. Writing about it on his blog on Tuesday, he grabbed hold of Wheelan's analogy and took it to a hilarious conclusion. After making a concise point about the very different nature of corn and music as products, he goes on to write:

(One reason why people--OK, evil people--feel it's OK to download, say, a Jay-Z album without paying for it is that there are few outward signs that Jay-Z is suffering as a result.) Or is the record company the farmer, in Wheelan's analogy? Well, if the farmer had spent decades overcharging grotesquely for corn, ... then perhaps the thieves would have been cheered all the way to the bootleg farmer's market.

This being a family blog, I cut out what exactly the record company execs spent their "grotesque" profits on, but Hornby continues from there, comparing some of the more innovative ways musicians have been releasing their music to traditional farming (and pointing you to online resources for free music along the way).

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.