08 Mar

guardian.co.uk – Ebooks: durability is a feature, not a bug

Ebooks have loads of demerits, especially as they are marketed to libraries. They are sold at full price, while print editions generally go at a hefty discount to reflect libraries’ volume purchasing. They can only be read with certain, proprietary readers, something analogous to insisting that the libraries require patrons to read their books by the light of one preferred manufacturer’s lightbulb. They can’t be sold on as a library discard once the library no longer needs them for the collection.

But they have virtues, too. For example, they don’t wear out. To pretend that this belongs on the "con" side rather than the "pro" side of the ebook chart is indefensible. You might as well argue that a surcharge should be assessed against paperbacks to offset the "losses" experienced by publishers when libraries buy them instead of the hardcover, or that charity shops should be obliged to apply fake rust to stainless steel cutlery to make up for the fact that it lasts longer than the non-stainless kind.

Of course ebooks don’t wear out. Programming them to self-destruct after 26 checkouts is tantamount to asking librarians to embrace entropy. Anyone who thinks that this is going to happen has never spent any time with a librarian.

via guardian.co.uk – Ebooks: durability is a feature, not a bug. As tends to be the case, so on your side Cory Doctorow.