But what about downloading books?

At the beginning of the week I published my blog “to download or not to download” where I listed the pros and cons of downloading Nintendo games from eShop or buying physical game cartridge. What a pleasant surprise to get so many reactions! A surprise too, that most people still preferred physical cartridges, or at least in combination with downloads. It seems that the eShop still has some way to go!

It took me back about 4 years in time, when I had a similar discussion with a good friend. She and I share a passion for gaming, and a passion for good fantasy books. Especially ones that have dragons in them. I remember that we discussed a must read list of books, and that I was planning to buy some of them while in the US. I always read my books in English, and buying them in the US was a lot cheaper for me. And that’s where my problem started: how on earth would I get all books home with me? My suitcase could only hold so many, and my husband was already complaining that I was taking too many books with me, and asked me if I had packed bricks?

I distinctly remember saying to her that maybe it would be better to buy an eReader and put books on there. It would sure save a lot of luggage problems. At the time, my friend said she just couldn’t imagine trading in the real books for eBooks. The feeling of a book, the smell of the pages, having them all in your bookcase, lined up in the same editions. Nothing could beat that. And I totally agreed.

Now, four years later. We download almost all of our books on Kindle. She has a real Kindle device, I use the Kindle app on my iPad. She is always on the lookout for good offers of free books, always a good source to try a new writer. She shares her tips with me, as we both love the same kind of stories. And because of that, I have an amazing library on my iPad, and I always have books with me. Don’t need any space for them in my suitcase anymore and I have a whole world of reading available at my fingertips. Plus it’s easy to read in bed, I don’t need a light anymore.

Still, I guess we both miss the smell of books, the feel of the pages, lining them up in your bookcase. But the convenience of downloading far outweighs that for me. As with downloading games, I’m curious: do you book lovers read eBooks, or do you still feel the pull of real paper?

2 comments

  1. Again I agree, at first it was hard to imagine giving up not ‘owning’ a book, just having a ‘computer copy’ that you read off a screen, especially when you are reading a series and enjoying lining it up on your display shelf where friends can peruse and borrow from. But books, CDs and DVDs all take up significant space and having them virtual and portable is a real winner. While the same is true for games, I still have an obsession with collecting Nintendo stuff, (which holds its value unlike other brands) so I always choose the physical versions. But digital downloads are the clutter saving solution to the future. The major risk this brings to consumers is going to be that they don’t actually own anything when they ‘buy’ a digital book or game, and it will likely evolve to ‘you get billed each time you access the content’, or ‘pay a monthly/yearly subscription’. And if in the future the item is withdrawn or no longer supported then you can no longer access it and for the greater amount of money you paid, you are left with nothing. This is already in place for mmo’s like Warcraft and graphic art software Photoshop. Is it a move to combat piracy or a grab at greater, long term profits? When companies like Electronic Arts are paving the way, it leads thought to some vey troubling possibilities indeed.

    1. We can only hope it won’t evolve to that, although, like you say, we have some examples already where you invest and get left behind with nothing much. That’s often how it is when you invest in app games, you buy in-game currency to buy things like in HayDay to have extra slots to make items. You put in real money and get currency back that’s not worth anything in real life. I guess though that it’s all about amusement: we amuse ourselves by leveling a game up or being able to keep on playing, and we pay for that. In books it’s much the same, but having a lot of books with you all the time and not having to tote a large bag with you, or not having them take up a lot of space in your home, is very much worth it. Even if you don’t really own the physical book!

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