Edwards-Jones, Imogen. Fashion Babylon. London: Corgi Books, 2006. ISBN 0-552-15443-1.
This is a hard-to-classify but interesting and enjoyable book. I'm not sure even whether to call it fiction or nonfiction: the author has invented a notional co-author, “Anonymous”, who relates, condensed into a single six-month fashion season, anecdotes from a large collection of sources within the British fashion industry, all of which the author vouches for as authentic. Celebrities appear under their own names, and the stories involving them (often bizarre) are claimed to be genuine.

If you're looking for snark, cynicism, cocaine, cigarettes, champagne, anorexia, and other decadence and dissipation, you'll find it, but you'll also take away a thorough grounding in the economics of a business fully as bizarre as the software industry. The gross margin is almost as high and, except for the brand name and associated logos, there is essentially zero protection of intellectual property (as long as you don't counterfeit the brand, you can knock-off any design, just as you can create a work-alike for almost any non-patent-protected software product and sell it for a tiny fraction of the price of the prototype). The vertiginous plunge from the gross margin to the meagre bottom line is mostly promotional hype: blow-outs to “build the brand”. So it may increasingly become in the software business as increases in functionality in products appeal to a smaller and smaller fraction of the customer base, or even reduce usability (Windows Vista, anybody?).

A U.S. Edition will be published in February 2008.

December 2007 Permalink