Books as an example
Bear with me a little here - I get to the point at the end of the post ;-)
I have a book from the 1800's that I paid £2.50 for in a second hand store. Priceless (to me) - and probably worth about $200 if I were to sell it now. When it was originally sold, I would guess it cost the equivalent of, maybe, $20 in today's money. We have lost something in terms of appreciation of value by the electronicization of things I think.
Sure, we've gained a lot too. Portability, accessibility, availability (?) - maybe - if the Internet is up at the time we need it to be...
The Joy of Reading
I have bookshelves upon bookshelves of actual paper books, probably over 150ft of bookshelf space - haven't really counted - and I've read a good number of the books on those bookshelves over the years (academic texts to novels, travel guides to language books, music texts, programming texts, encyclopedias, technical manuals, humor, plays, commentaries and so on).
I remember the days I would fill a backpack or a briefcase with books. Oh the weight! The need to take care I didn't mess them up; rumple up the pages or get something else lodged in them by accident. Learned about caring for things though.
I love being able to browse a book. There is still a benefit to being able to open a book and flip through it to find information - especially the visual associations - "this comes before that in the book", "this is early on", "that's on the right hand side near the top" etc. And you can keep multiple fingers in multiple places very easily - still far more easily than being able to flip between bookmarks electronically.
I don't consider any of those, even the ones I've paid pennies for, to be consumable items, but precious in the sense that that's what's informed my thinking, altered it sometimes, kept it in check at others and so on.
I still go back and re-read some of those books. I would not want to throw them away nor have the ability to browse through them removed. I've recently picked up a book from my bookshelf that I purchased 34 years ago that's just come in handy this year! Glad I still have it! And the information is still as fresh today as it was then.
We had a small basement flood some years back. No serious damage, but I had some old electronic project books on the floor and they were water damaged and unrecoverable. The only way to replace them under the insurance - new for old - was to buy new copies. Unfortunately, it was a "buy-then-we'll-reimburse" policy. Some books that I'd paid a few pennies for back in the UK many years ago were now only available as collectors' items for over $200 - EACH (!) and there were several of the same kind. And, no, they weren't worth $200 each - to anyone (IMO). So, I didn't replace any of those.
And so to electronic media...
Now, getting closer to the point: the issue of physical books vs. ebooks - I can't take those physical books with me so easily. I can however take the equivalent in bookshelf space on a single iPad! And, yes, nowadays I do a reasonable amount of reading on electronic devices. In fact I have done so since the Palm days, then Pocket PC, then Android and now iOS.
Would I transfer all those physical books to e-book equivalents? Not a chance - even if it were possible! For the reasons stated above, among others, I would not want to lose that permanence, nor availability. Do I buy new books? Yes - sometimes, and I buy ebooks too, but I don't want those to disappear.
iOS music apps: The Crunch
I've paid money for those ebooks. Actually - again as with all electronic purchases, one has purchased a license to use the item - even ebooks. They can't be willed to my children - whereas the paper books can.
This is the non-transferable license issue. I value those ebooks however - as much as I value older iOS music apps that I've "paid for" (a license to use).
What if they go away? What if the author removes them from the App Store? Under Apple's new rules they will be unavailable for me to download and continue using. Sure, I have backups of the ipa files, and that's one way round the issue. But, what if you don't? Suddenly, something you have "paid for" and perhaps rely on can't be installed on a new device.
What about IAPs? What if you still have the ipa and can restore it from a backup but the IAPs you have also purchased are now no longer available for restoration?
And that's the problem. Lack of real ownership. How do we solve that?
Not anytime soon - it's a money-go-round for the "seller".
This is also a contributing reason as to why I don't buy into subscription-based software - libraries, DAWs etc.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment.