About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

07 November 2011

Digital vs Physical Books

I love books - those that you can hold, put on a bookshelf, use as a paperweight, leave it lying about in the lounge, use as a prop to hold other things in their place. I have a fair number of books, including a whole box (and more) unread ...

But the same things that I like about books, are the same things that make them difficult - they are heavy, they are unwieldy, difficult to carry around. I was on my way to Cape Town on the day that Walter Issacson's biography of Steve Jobs launched; and for me, it became an interesting decision on whether to buy the digital copy on iTunes or the hard cover at Exclusives (before boarding the plane).

There was an interesting contrast in pricing - the hardcover was approximately R300, while the iBooks version was USD 16, roughly 50% of the hardcover. This is exactly the type of business models I envisaged in my thesis on DRM - the digital copy, which is effectively licensed (as opposed to owned), has a lot more restrictions (e.g. restrictions on sharing, resale) compared to the physical copy; and one would expect a difference in cost. This cost difference extends to the US also (and is not just a result of exchange rates etc) - the retail price for the book is USD 35; though it can be found now at a much more discounted price.

In the end, I did buy the digital copy - mostly because I was going to be reading most of it while traveling - on the plane, on the Gautrain, in my hotel/BnB room. I like reading on my iPad - but strangely, this is the only book I have exclusively read on it (I have some "textbooks" on PDF that I have also read; though I actually prefer the physical book to the PDF). I do however miss it on my bookshelf ...

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