October 25, 2011

Actually This blog is not Supposed to be about Economics

Since I'm a small Israeli Ebook publisher, I'm not only supposed to have thoughts on matters related directly to Economics, but also on matters having to do with Literature.
That's why I want to talk about Business and Computers for a short while now.
Wait, What?
Yes, I think that the Ebook revolution is a huge deal, not only to book publishing, but also to human civilization as a whole.
The reason I wrote about Economics so far is that I studied economics, but found that Economic Analysis alone does a very poor job at writing books for publishing, at picking up which books to publish, but also at actually marketing and selling the books.
I'm not saying I'm a roaring commercial success, but four years of being a publisher at least taught me a few things that I should NOT do, but more about that later.
For now, that is for the next few weeks, I want to talk about some of the past and present leaders of the Software Industry, because that will lead to talking about Ebooks...

October 21, 2011

Kosher Mexican Food in Beer Sheva

This just occured to me the other day.
While is is very obvious that Tel Aviv is the food capital of Israel, so much so that many Israeli restaurant review sites don't even bother publshing reviews for any other places (which is a subject for a future post maybe), there are many more Mexican/Tortilla places in Beer Sheva, most of them Kosher, and I can't even think of one that exists in Tel Aviv currently.
For example you can chack out this site (if you can read Hebrew), and you will see that this franchise has three branches of Kosher Tortillas in Beer Sheva, and it plans on opening the fourth branch in Hadera (a small city north of Tel Aviv, so smaller and further from Beer Sheva).
Why is that?
You may reply, if you know the food fads of Israel, that Tortillas were a craze in Tel Aviv too three or four years ago, and then most businesses just moved on, but this does not explain why it stuck in Beer Sheva!
The two explanations me and my wife thought of are that cheaper food sells better in Beer Sheva, and that beer Shevans on the average like spicy food better that Tel Avivians. Both may be true, but it still make you wonder...

October 11, 2011

Couscous on Tuesdays

I have another shocking confession to make. I really like Couscous.
Now Couscous being a traditional Morrocan or Tunisian food it is quite easy to find decent (Kosher) Couscous places in Beer Sheva.
The interesting thing is that most of these places, and almost all of the good places serve Couscous mainly on Tuesdays.
I know it is traditional to eat Couscous on Tuesdays (and Friday night, but obviously not Kosher places...)
However, one would think that there would be an economic oportunity here, that some people migt like Couscous on Sunday for instance..
But for some reason this is not happening.
I think this is yet another evidence that economic is inextricably tied to culture, and that cultural traditions sometimes change very slowly despite of economic incentives.

October 4, 2011

Here's Something That Regular Economics Can't Explain

This is actually the first idea I've had that made me think that current economic Theory is broken.
Also, before I start, I'm sorry that the only numbers to back me up here are from my own memory, but there are no regular statistics on these subjects.
So here goes:
In 1990 I distinctly remember being a youth councilor in Ashkelon. I was trying to train a group of junior councilors, and the Rabbi of the congregation wanted a session with the energetic youths.
He started the session with a meditation on the subject of Shawarma. it went something like this:
"Shawarma. Think of it. Shawarma. Lusciuos tasty Shawarma, with Tahina, and all you can eat salads. But the pita is too small, and the price just went up from 5 shekel to 6 shekel (about 2.50$ to 3$ at the 1990 exchange rates)..."
This is actually the point. Shawarma in 1990 cost 5 or 6 shekels. today it costs 24 to 30 shekels (7$ to 9$ at current exchange rates). This is a serious climb in the price.
So far, it's hardly shocking. But Sushi prices in Israel actually went down at the same time! from 40 shekel in the early 1990s (about 20$!) to about 24 shekels now (about 7$).
How can this be?
Regular economics cannot explain this, but economies of scale can. It's just that more people eat Sushi in israel now, and fewer people eat Shawarma than in 1990. Still, Shawarma is more popular than Sushi, only the difference is smaller. So competition in one area went way up, and in the other area it went way down.
People don't meditate about Shawarma so much now.