Internet Buyers-The New Castrati (676 words)
By Denny Hatch
The equivalent of rock stars in the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe were the castrati, former choir boys whose soprano voices were so pure and exquisite they were subjected to castration.
Said one writer, "[The castrati] were frequently described as having the 'voices of angels.' This was no doubt due to the combination of a child's fresh voice with the vocal power of a man, and the high register of a woman."
Being neutered did not make for connubial bliss, but the money was great and, socially, these eunuchs were lionized.
Recently, my friend Russell Perkins, one of the world's leading experts on the business of directories in print and online said to me, "The Internet is killing the directory business. People are saying, 'Why should I pay $500 for a directory when I can get the information free on the Internet.'"
My answer: "Yeah, bits and pieces are probably free on the Internet—if you want to spend 16 hours staring at a piece of glass looking for them. What's your time worth?"
The Internet has commoditized everything—books, appliances, automobiles, travel, clothes, collectibles, intellectual services, etc., have become entirely price-driven. A TV commercial selling an Internet comparison shopping service depicts a fat and happy consumer showing off a wonderful new gadget, only to have some superior smarty-pants describe how he got the same thing cheaper on the Internet. Some would call it deflating; I call it castrating—a total diminution of a person's sense of self-worth.
I'll pay well for anything that enables me to do my work quicker and easier, whether it's a new G4 Mac or a subscription to the online edition of The Wall Street Journal where I can access 10 to 20 million articles from thousands of publications from all around the world for just $2.95 each. And when I use Knight-Ridder (as in Phillynews.com), my cost is only $1.95 per article.