After Hours

Typo in e-book proves that digital content is virtually worthless

TechRepublic member dcolbert thinks that until we can replicate the physical uniqueness and non-retractable quality of physical media, virtual media will continue to be a disposable commodity that has no long-term value. Do you agree?

I'm not putting a special target on Wired Magazine's Steven Levy just because he drinks generously from the fountains of revolutionary magic in Cupertino, California. But in one of his articles, he wrote about finding a typo in a Kindle e-book.

Steven contacted a friend, a publisher at Simon and Schuster, and received a letter back that the error had been corrected and that his Kindle version would soon be updated. But it wasn't. Why? According to Amazon.com’s Drew Herdner, “We will update the file for a book a customer has already purchased only when the customer asks us to.”

In his post, Steven talked about the well-publicized 1984 Kindle debacle -- "when Amazon, realizing that it had mistakenly sold some bootlegged copies of George Orwell’s 1984, deleted all of them from customers’ Kindles" -- but what really got my attention was what he missed in his article.

In the past, a significant typo, an upside-down title page, and even missing or blank pages in a print copy of a popular book could actually increase the value of that particular edition. This is just another example of how digital work is less valuable than print. E-publishing does away with not only the potential investment value of a misprinted edition but with the very concept itself.

I find that I struggle with my position on this issue. On one hand, I realize that if my music is analog on a record or tape, digital on a physical CD, or digital as a file on any number of digital playback devices, it doesn't matter to me. As a matter of fact, in the long run, I believe that digital, DRM-free music is -- for all practical matters -- superior to any sort of physical media.

On the other hand, written words are a different experience than music, and the intangible nature of e-publishing absolutely removes value from the product. I do not believe that anyone will ever proudly collect digital copies of National Geographic and...

...Wait. I'm going to retract that. When I'm rich and famous, I don't want the previous comment to be "Computers will never need more than 640k of memory." Unless Digital Printing completely replaces print media, I don't see how intangible digital content will ever become collected, displayed, and treasured like traditional, tangible print media. Digital Media is a commodity proposition, a bulk item with a short shelf-life.

A great example of this is Grant Theft Auto - San Andreas. The original release included one of the most notorious "Easter eggs" in the history of gaming, a secret mode called "Hot Coffee" that included sexually explicit and graphic mini-games. When this came to light (some say, as a planned publicity stunt), the publisher Rock Star Games pulled the Hot Coffee editions from all of the consoles where it was available.

Instant collector's edition, right? Evidently not. A quick search of eBay shows countless copies of PS2, Grand Theft Auto, Hot Coffee edition, all going unpurchased.

To some degree, I believe that this is the result of software piracy. Anyone interested in checking out the GTA Hot Coffee edition can simply download a torrent off the Internet. People who have already bought the game probably don't even feel very guilty about doing this. But the end result, the net effect, is that something that should make a valuable collectors item out of digital content doesn't.

I've mentioned before that I’m a retro gamer. I have an extensive collection of ancient console games, going back to the earliest Pong releases. My most valuable classic gaming equipment is a device called the Cuttle Cart 2. It looks just like the classic Atari 2600 game cartridges, but it has a slot in it that accepts an MMC card (the precursor of SD cards). On even the smallest MMC card, you can put the entire combined library of both Atari 2600 and Atari 7800 cartridges, plus every homebrew game ever made, and still have room for every manual for every one of those games ever published.

Because this piece of physical, tangible media is no longer made, this cartridge alone, which originally sold for just over $200, can now command over $600. However, the games that you put on the MMC card can be downloaded from multiple sites on the Internet -- virtually legally unchallenged -- for free.

When people try selling retro games for money, they almost inevitably fail. There aren't enough casual gamers interested in paying any amount of money for these crude, primitive video games. Yet the physical cartridge, the Cuttle Cart 2, has enough demand and limited enough supply that it’s appreciating rapidly. The digital content is virtually worthless, but the physical device continues to increase in value.

Ultimately, until we can replicate the physical uniqueness and non-retractable quality of physical media, virtual media will continue to be a disposable commodity that has no long-term value.

About

Donovan Colbert has over 16 years of experience in the IT Industry. He's worked in help-desk, enterprise software support, systems administration and engineering, IT management, and is a regular contributor for TechRepublic. Currently, his profession...

127 comments
NZJester
NZJester

One thing about printed books compared to eBooks is that once you have finished with them you can give or sell them second hand to someone else to read. This can not be done with eBooks unless you also give or sell the device they are stored on as the DRM has locked that book to your reader! Also you can lend a physical book for free from most libraries and I have yet to hear of a service that allows you to loan free eBooks from a Library.

jjk308
jjk308

Valuing mistakes highly is just an affectation, a collecting whim based on supposed scarcity, not an indication of value unless you can find someone equally delusional to pay for it. Of course delusional describes many rabid collectors. Often dealers and collectors who have copies of the supposedly scarce mistake actively pump up the value by various means to unrealistic levels that aren't often realized in practice. Such mistake related value increases seem limited to printed material (stamps, books) and some coins. In most other fields of collecting mistakes cut the value, not increase it. In collectible firearms and pottery, for a couple of examples I am very familiar with, a mistake may cut the value by 90%.

cgkomeshak
cgkomeshak

Does a scanned author's signature cut & pasted to the title page of the eBook add value to a collector?

hauskins
hauskins

In the electronic world the content can now be replicated almost instantaneously, then distributed across the globe. It's value is in consumption whether free or for a fee. The value of electronic content is connected to how well the distribution of it is controlled, i.e. movies, music. Bootlegging is a value operation in the sense that the people who do see it as being valuable because they can get free or they can sell it at much lower cost to others. In the world of physical books they can't be instantaneously produced and distributed. Some people out there value that. Some people will value the "typo" or printing mistakes in a physical book since someone else puts value in it. They see it as being one of a kind. A book publisher would not intentionally keep printing books with "typos" if they did it would not be valuable anymore. To me Grand Thief Auto with its animated sex Easter Egg is just pornographic garbage, anybody can make it, plus there really is truth in "There's nothing like the real thing".

TobiF
TobiF

I've heard about a company which has as its main idea to collect virtual content. And it seems they're doing really well. Now, what's their name? I just forgot. Maybe I should try to google it? Hang on! That's it. I think the name of the company IS Google, or something like that... :)

rob123q
rob123q

I am going to disagree with you on this, ebooks and digital content do have a value, maybe not a physical worth but a value. I collect comic books, record albums, old games and systems, toys and more. When I aquire an old comic, the last thing I want to do is to read it, but that is part of my problem, I not only collect these items, I also love to read and listen to them. So the first thing I do is download a digital copy of the comic to read so not to destroy the worth of the physical media any more then it already is, thus making the digital copy worth more since I did not read it or mark it in any way.The same applies for albums, I purchase a copy, either download or make a copy of it by playing it once and converting it to digital with a USB turntable ( I do like the classic hiss and pops). Then I store the actual album and listen to the digital copy. Classic Video games are the same. Purchase, download and store(I do try to get doubles to play, nothing beats it on an old 19" color tv! But my much winded point is, digital provides the ability to still enjoy the item (maybe not in the classic way) and preserve the value of the original item. If now I could only find a way to collect old Marx toys in a digital format! And yes, I do also collects complaints from my wife since my collection has taken over the basement and dining room!

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

It's a database access interface/reader that you use on your computer. You log in to your user account, search the db for the book you want, and read the e-book in that environment. There's limited copy-paste capabilities too - with an autosource message no less. There are a gazillion others, I'm sure.

Zahra B.
Zahra B.

If you resell the book, then, of course, the signature adds to the value. But if you don't, what's the value of a signature? In the recent years, I've realized that I cherish the memories of meeting the author (or whatever celebrity) and talking with them than the signature that took 30 seconds and means (in and of itself) nothing to him or me.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

This discussion seems to center around the notion that if it isn't rare or collectible, it has no value. Quoting M*A*S*H's Col Potter, "Horse-hockey!" I own plenty of common place, readily available items that have value to me. I certainly wouldn't want to spend money replacing them, even if finding replacements isn't a problem.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Was just a readily available example - it also illustrates subjective value. In this case, your pornagraphic trash is another person's "milestone digital gaming easter-egg". The fact that it is languishing as a collector's item, though, speaks volumes about the long-term value of digital content. Although, that kind of leads me down a related tangent. An article that just made it to the top of Digg (because it was a popular Reddit entry, of course) - was a tongue-in-cheek look at why the 90s produced so many one-hit-wonders. Something has fundamentally changed in our society where we constantly want to consume new and novel experiences. We quickly tire and get borded of new things. Music, gadget, games. The strange thing is the traditional hits remain so. Uno, Monopoly, Clue, Battleship. The Rolling Stones, Rush, AC/DC. 1984, The Lord of The Rings, Of Mice and Men. New generations constantly discover the classics and relove them, even in modern digital formats... But since the arrival of the digital age, how many classics that are re-found by following generations exist? I'm on to something here. And it isn't that there aren't digital creations that don't *deserve* to become classic. There is just some huge obstacle to this actually occuring. I don't think it matters if we claim that the content is the value on a philosophical basis. The reality is that as a society, digital content is devalued.

dcolbert
dcolbert

And the popular opinion is that Google is gathering all of these documents and actively digitizing them solely out of their benevolent good-will to all mankind. Trust us... or motto is "Do No Evil". :)

dcolbert
dcolbert

You may be the first I've met to hold this strange perspective, rob, although seeing you explain it, I'm sure you're not alone. I suppose it depends on how precious an item is. You certainly don't want to treat a genuine Action Comics #1 like any other comic book. It is something that is obviously going to be kept stored very carefully and handled as infrequently as possible. On the other hand, having had access to any number of reprints of Action #1, I can't say that a digital copy would have the same tangible quality as even a reprint. As a matter of fact, there is something there - a limited reprint of Action #1 has a certain value to it because of the tangible nature of it - whereas I'm willing to bet I and *everyone else* in the entire world can find a scanned copy of Action #1 any time, day or night they feel like seeing the first apperance of "The Man Of Steel" in 4 color print. So while in the past DC could charge a couple of bucks to reprint Action Comics #1... Today... your first exposure to it is likely to be here: http://google.it.for.yourself... (I had misgivings about posting a link to something like this - but rest assured, it doesn't take a Google expert to find the entire body of Action 1 scanned online). Free of charge - because the digital content, is less valuable. It further erodes the value of tangible copies. It is less precious, less rare - it is virtual and available to everyone at no cost what-so-ever - certainly if not through legal outlets, then via The Pirate Bay. I mean, I understand your example, in the case of an avid collector - and it is a *novel* argument for a potential way to *attach* value to virtual content (because you're absolutely right, in your case, a digital version enhances the physical ownership of an actual copy). But I think my counter-argument has merit, too. In the past, a limited edition reprint would be available to a limited number of people, quite possibly less than enough to meet market demand. But with a virtual product, there is never any problem meeting demand. And a lack of demand *does* create value. So at the best, it is 6 of one, half-a-dozen of the other.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I was thinking of that about a baseball cap I picked up in Barcelona - when I saw the same cap here in Akron, Ohio for about half the price. I'd *know* if I had bought the cap here in Ohio. There is PERSONAL value for me alone in that I actually bought the cap while I was in Spain. But that doesn't increase the value to anyone else. If I put it on Craigslist, "Genuine Barcelona FB Team cap bought IN Barcelona", I'm not going to see a huge premium on it. This is emotional, personal value. And that is different. But if the cap were signed by the entire team - then you've got an emotional value that is tangible, transferrable, and that creates value. (It is worth noting, that in general, if the cap had been bought in Akron or Barcelona makes no difference, if it had been signed by the actual team). Which is part of what makes this discussion hard to qualify and quantify.

dcolbert
dcolbert

It might cost you $100 to replace your leaf-blower at Home Depot, but you would be lucky to get $20 for yours on Craigslist. Now, if it were signed by a big enough celebrity from the HGTV network and had been featured on an episode, you might get $200 for it. It is about *relative* value. Digital content has less *relative* worth than a physical representation of the same thing. Digital content erodes value.

TobiF
TobiF

"Do no evil" is paraphrased short for "Do not believe" :)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"You certainly don't want to treat a genuine Action Comics #1 like any other comic book." Why not? While I didn't have one of those, I once had the closest modern equivalent - Giant-Sized X-Men #1. I didn't buy it as an investment, I bought it to have it and read it, and read it I did. Several times, bare handed, enjoying the feel of the paper. I did store it in a poly bag, but I did all my comics that way. If I'm just going to read the digital edition, why buy the printed one at all? Economic speculation?

rclark
rclark

We are kinda insulated here at the moment. We lead the unemployment boom by about a year. By the time that boom came the plants were already shut down and the workers had moved on. Now we are waiting for the recovery and trying to keep the politicols from taxing us more. They seem to think now would be a good time to build new community centers and sports complexes. Our middle lower classes are really hurting, and we have a large elder population on fixed incomes. If the green economy doesn't pull us out of the slump, crime will rise and we will have a return to the mid eighties level of violence. Everything is connected. Hopefully in November the problem will be solved one way or another. At this point I would put up with another eight years of Bill Clinton. At least he balanced the budget.....

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

... LARGE sunspots are something else again. Depending on how big a stink they're making, we might not have to go outside to get a tan :) Seriously, though, I was referring to having an actual physical copy of things. Anything I write I make a printed copy of. These comment threads are the exception, although I should print them out, too, considering they probably have exceeded the volume of the rest of my work. The sunspots themselves would not cause serious health issues for most people. The power outages could however be a definite problem - for hospitals, as well as home health care. Now, considering scientists had predicted that sunspots would be at their peak around the end of this year, and yet they hadn't changed significantly by the beginning of the year, I frankly am a little skeptical about their "predictions." However, if we are in for some unusually intense solar activity, the resulting solar winds could disrupt the entire magnetosphere, not just the side facing the sun at the time. Then again, if I look up in the night sky and see Mars get incinerated by a solar flare, I probably won't worry about anything else - ever - there wouldn't be much left to be worried about in a few days anyway. Incidentally, it's not just out-of-work publishers I'm concerned about; it's out-of-work everybody I'm concerned about.

rclark
rclark

But when you say it like that, I have to wonder why you are worried about out of work publishers........Don't you want to save the poor crispy ? My only point about the sun spots are that if they occur, they can have effects from causing brownouts to total grid meltdown. If brown or black outs, they can cause digital damage, but if grid meltdown, the problem wont be that the digital media is gone, it will just be inaccessible due to no power to run anything. How do you get the data off of a CD/DVD if no computers work? And the other problem is that the sun, being the big boy on the block, affects 1/2 of the planet at any one time. Last point, electronics are by in large much more fragile than the human body. An emp that will wreck electronics wont even be noticed by people....The question will be how strong the emp is once it gets down here. Could be bacon frying or could be SPF400 weather.....

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

And then there are those who mean "You make good points, and while you are most asssuredly not wrong, if you will indulge me and look at the bigger picture, you will see that neither am I." Your automotive model illustrates the very same thing. Switching from hand-crafted autos to assembly line builds both cheapened the craft itself, and also displaced the workers. It didn't make the new products completely worthless, but it definitely made them worth less. No, we should not restrict progress simply to maintain the workforce. But it is a concern that must be addressed. Incidentally, in regard to your broken DX, I had the same problem recently with a printer. My own solution to the problem was to contact the manufacturer directly and order the replacement part as if I were a repair facility. For a grand total of 97 cents, my printer was as good as new. Actually, you bring up another point I had not seen here, and had not considered yet. Traditionally, publishers have, as you say, "winnowed the chaff," and only produced material they considered worthy. Thus, a publisher would earn its reputation. If a publisher simply accepted every submission without considering its quality, they would very quickly earn a reputation from it, and would very soon thereafter disappear into oblivion. The ability for any author to self-publish will further cheapen literature by introducing material that isn't worth the page it's printed on. Websites will become the new Publishers, and will likewise earn their reputations based on the content they provide. I don't think it's so much that we'll have fewer great works, but that many truly talented authors' works will be overshadowed by the mountain of crap surrounding them. I agree that there will, and must, soon rise a rating service, and the smart publishers will probably be the ones to undertake it. After all, the good ones already have their names established as producing and publishing quality literature, so it won't be a great stretch for them to also put their mark on digital media as well. I don't agree with Apple's list of apps, or any other such tally, because there is too much potential for a skewed rating. Some sites allow an individual to vote more than once. Others count every download, without considering or even knowiwng whether each download was liked or not. In some cases, downloading a program, etc., is the only way to preview it. In other cases, you must purchase it - with a money-back guarantee - but are the refunds counted, or just all the purchases? I know that involves more models than just e-books, but it illustrates how an online user rating system could get very inaccurate, very quickly. As for the sunspots... Like I said (or at least thought), the smart ones will have not only a separate off-site digital copy of that content, but will also have a physical copy of the same content. If we do get the strong sunspots in 2012 as predicted, the EMP generated will be strong enough to cause serious health issues, even beyond the problems created by power outages. When that happens, all the New Orleanses of the world will simply die out. The people and communities who are determined to survive will be the ones who do. The ones who expect and wait for the government or others to come in and save them will be the ones who fizzle out. I've seen, been in, and helped people out after different catastrophes over the years - blizzards, floods, icestorms, gale-force windstorms, tornadoes - sometimes entire neighborhoods or cities either destroyed or severely damaged - and none of those communities were still whining about it and begging for handouts five years later. In a catastrophe, it's the ones who pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and take control of their recovery, instead of waiting for someone else to do it, that will survive. It will be the same if the entire digital system goes down in two years - the ones who are prepared will survive... the ones who aren't, won't.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, that is... Funnily enough, my 5 year old daughter draw a picture of a big birthday cake, with two candles on it... and then some writing that couldn't be read. Turned out to be mirror script: 06 12 2012, so, obviously the second coming of christ will be just in time... 15 days before the end of the MLCC fourth age :p And yes, it's true, and no, I'm not serious :D

santeewelding
santeewelding

Otherwise, informative -- about not only your subject.

rclark
rclark

When people say this, they usually mean "Don't be stupid, I'm right you are wrong!" However, occasionally they mean "Please accept that my point might be valid". In either case, I did consider your points and I do understand them. I just think they are the same point that every other industry has been concerned with over the last 108 years. Ever since Ford's assembly line, people have been worried about the poor displaced people who will be thrown out of work when their lovenly hand made product is replaced by cheap factory assembled junk that only lasts for weeks or months before it is broken or outdated. We see it in every area, including ebook readers. My DX has a broken 5way toggle. Amazons answer to this design flaw is buy another. A valueless small piece of plastic breaks and bricks a $499 piece of tech. So if the paradigm in publishing changes, the people who are thrown out of work will do something else or they won't. Sorry, but that is the way it is. We can cry about it or get on with it. What we can't do is change it after the fact. If the publishing industry was actually any good at it, they probably wouldn't be under as much threat as they are, but they stink at getting information from authors to the consumers. Always have, by design. And they are just as bad as the Recording industry about their monopolistic practices. Their day has come and I won't cry about their eminent demise. As for the google/facebook etc. reference, that was a reference to any online distribution channel that can actually sign and distribute authors. The only real problem with Amazon or any other distribution of ebooks is that there is no bar to publishing anymore. That was the only real service that the publishing houses contributed. They winnowed the chaff out of the host of spewn drivel and what was left was what made the grade of profitable work and was published. We the consumers could then browse those offerings and choose our own favorites. In the digital age, there is no gatekeeper. So as for the content, I think we will have fewer great works, or at least acknowledged as such, and a lot of really bad stuff coming out. There will be a rise of a rating service in the years to come. Whether based on digg or groups, or twitter, or some combination I have no idea. Apples answer is to have two lists of top grossing apps. Maybe that is the answer. Maybe something else. As for the sunspots. That is just one of the things I'm currently watching. Last quarter of 2012, NASA is predicting high sunspot activity. High sunspot activity causes emp waves, which cause transformers to fail catestrophically. Transformers are bought from China with a 3 month lag time between order and delivery. Any two transformers in a grid will take a grid down. No power. So be worried. No one is yet concerned with a 60 year old distribution system that can not withstand sunspots. Google it. My point is we live so close to the edge and are completely unaware of the fact. New Orleans showed us. New England icestorms showed us. Chicago and L.A. riots showed us. People today seem to think they are entitled. We have 30 days between us and the stone age. Anything breaks in our complex system and we have 30 days to fix it before people die. Please note the 90 day delivery on new transformers. So I do worry about that.

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

If the only thing to be concerned with were the distribution of the content, then it would be logical that adding a digital version of the content could add to the value. The problem becomes evident as you include the entire industry in the picture. True, the ultimate goal of digital media is to provide another method of accessing the content, but that is not the only result. As more people switch to digital, it logically follows that fewer will buy the printed copies, so the printing industry will suffer. It takes fewer people to publish digitally, so there would be more money going into the publisher, and less coming out. It's not just a concern that the prices will escalate, like your ball park and movie theatre analogy. In those instances, there actually is somewhat of a monopoly, since patrons cannot bring outside food and drink into the place, so they can charge any price they want for it. But your observation that "anyone can publish" is flawed as well. True, anyone can publish their own content, but copyrighted material is different. Until a particular book or magazine becomes public domain, only the its original publisher may then publish it digitally, or may license other to distribute it. I can publish anything I want, if it's not copyrighted. But if, for example, I publish an article from Reader's Digest without a license, even if I publish it for free, that is copyright infringement, which is quite illegal. Whatever you were trying to compare with Google, Facebook, etc., doesn't really have anything to do with the e-book model. Those are entirely digital services which cannot have a printed alternative. For someone to spin off and create their own digital media distribution service, however, they must first obtain the rights to the material they want to distribute. If they want to provide their services for free, like Google, Facebook, etc., they have to make their money some other way, such as through selling advertising space, or charging for "premium" content. Otherwise they'll have no money coming in to pay for their rights to distribute, and all the other expenses involved in distribution, such as paying for bandwidth and wages. Then looking back at your speculation where there are only 100 copies of a certain text, and along comes a sunspot, etc. If there were a sunspot or any other catastrophe great enough to destroy all the digital copies and backup copies of books, we would have a lot more to be concerned with besides the digital content being destroyed. It's not like all the digital content is stored in one computer in one building. Anything powerful enough to destroy all digital content, would also be enough to kill a great many people as well. Reading through the entire collection of comments, particularly my exchanges with dcolbert, in which I play "devil's advocate," should give you a better picture of how digital truly not only cheapens the material, but also shifts the balance of wealth in favour of the production over the consumer. If you still can't see the whole picture after that, I don't know how else to put it.

rclark
rclark

The redistribution of wealth is not the goal, it is a by product. The Ctual goal is the distribution and consumption of the content. The proof of that is that some content is free to the user. The effect may be that it concentrates the wealth and control in a few oligarchs. After control has been achieved then we might see a different model along the lines of hot dog prices at ball games and candy prices at movie theaters. Oh wait. With digital content anyone can publish. So if the oligarchs try and corner the market, some Facebook wannabe will do a google, Facebook, eBay, crags list.......etc The economics of scarcity in a digital melieu is a false premis. Artificially depressing supply will only work as long as you control supply and delivery.

dcolbert
dcolbert

"First. Your view of wealth distribution and the evils of the market place are misplaced." You're presenting a free-market political philosophy as factual data here. The problem is there are all kinds of examples where this doesn't work out the way a free market model would predict. "If there is a demand, someone will supply it". Not necessarily - and often not in a timely manner. You're also placing trust in the market to *demand*, rather than to settle. I've made the "automobile safety" argument before in regards to this. Basically, if something becomes a basic necessity in daily life, a thing without which you are at a disadvantage to others in competing for limited resources - then the manufacturers, producers, vendors, distributors - have a significant leverage point in providing *less* than what the market demands. So I disagree, the model of digital content is potentially economically disruptive and damaging to the distribution of wealth through a society. It cuts out too may steps in the middle and concentrates wealth and control at the top. Utlimately, I don't trust the consumer society I am part of to make the smartest choices on influencing the free market. The second analysis, I agree with you on - elsewhere I've referred to it in what I'll call the "Alas, Atlantis" scenario. I've also come to think of it as the "Canticle for Lieobowitz" theory. It is entirely possible that a sufficiently advanced society is bound to store content not just in a digital format, but in an always available cloud format - and at some point to lose touch with more analog formats of content distribution and record-keeping. If that society should have a ma.gnolia style epic crash at just the right time - well... there wouldn't be much left at the end of it all to show how far they got. Maybe some mythical and scriptural tales passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation.

rclark
rclark

First. Your view of wealth distribution and the evils of the market place are misplaced. If there is a market for hard copy, it will be satisfied at some level by people who wish to make money supplying that need. If the need is not there, they will still try to fill it and the results will be a less valuable hard back copy in a garage sale somewhere, somewhen. Second. I do not worry about the rate of change in society over going digital. Every advance in technology seems to chip away at society for awhile and then all of a sudden is absorbed into the main stream and we don't know how we lived without it. This acceptance factor is working on ebooks and the like. The real problems with the advances in the last 50 years are that they were so compelling that we are far removed from the roots of the actual human condition, at least in the 1st world. I know there are places where this is not so, but fewer and fewer as years go by. Now, here is my main worry. Once everything is gone digital, and there are only 100 copies of books, or designs, or tools, or any of the million and one things that make life as we know it possible. Now along comes a sunspot, or a religious nutcase, or a dictator who would rather die than be less than first, and we will be catapulted backwards not 50 years, but more than a thousand. We no longer have the capability to survive without our advanced society and that society is dependent on advanced technology. Forget the economics of it. Worry about the horseshoe and the nail. There are a lot of nails made of eggshells and spun sugar today. We are on the cusp of giant leaps in technology today. Alternative energy, and methods of distribution, with advances in storage and information processing, instant on and total emersion in both online and inline information sharing. The world we know today is changing faster than we can adapt, and truthfully, faster than we can know. The economics of yesterday will not be a concern for us tomorrow, as what we spent money for then, will seem like foolish waste tomorrow, and what we spend for tomorrow seems now a foolish extravagence. We are where I live, still relatively close to the land. We know what, where, and how things are grown, constructed, consumed. But for most of the country, that is not so. When I was a child, we made what we consumed or we did without. Then we graduated to saving for what we wanted and buying it. Then we went to buying on credit, then to revolving charge cards and now instant purchases. Everything changes, and each change divorces us from self reliance. The lesson of the hoe and handle is not lost, but at the same time; today, we are much more specialized than our fathers and grandfathers were. For the most part we are experts in very narrow fields, not general survivalists. My children are growing up in a time where everyone is expected to rely on society, where will individual excellence be? The other side of that coin is that technology allows even the less than stellar talent to broadcast their creations. So long as society holds together, we can advance at ever faster rates, but be aware, it is all held together with eggshells and spun sugar.

dcolbert
dcolbert

We're getting into some murky waters, here. I'm pretty sure because I'm agreeing and nodding my head at the same time I find myself thinking, "but..." In this case... the *emotional* appeal can create value, as well. "Cup that Justin Bieber drank out of" - is that rarity value or emotional appeal value? Regardless of rarity, it has no value to me. But my 9 year old daughter might consider it priceless. You would argue emotional appeal on this. But the rarity would also attract speculative investors in this piece of memorabilia with larger piggy-banks than my daughter. Rarity, then? It must be a little bit of both, in many cases. I think the tangible and the digital travel different economic paths, currently. The digital copies do not generally have an impact on the tangible. Again, we may be caught up on the title, or it may not have been clear enough in the article itself - but my argument is that digital content erodes its *own* value. Just because a hard-copy of the latest Harry Potter costs $45 on opening day and people are lined up around the corner doesn't mean that the digital copy, released the same night, can also command $45 - or anywhere *near* that price. The hard copies are going to run out, and if you don't pay up the $45 and grab it then, you might have to wait days, weeks, months, before it gets restocked. On the other hand, the digital copy is available to as many people, in whatever order they arrive, where ever they are in line, provided the servers can handle the load, as want it, from the day it becomes available. Along with the other advantages of the tangible, this means that the tangible retains value - while the digital copy, with the other liabilities we've mentioned, starts off with less value to begin with and has no residual value once consumed (other than the opportunity to read it again and again). So, I see your points, but I think that digital content *does* erode value - at least the value of digital content.

Zahra B.
Zahra B.

"But if the cap were signed by the entire team - then you've got an emotional value that is tangible, transferrable, and that creates value. (It is worth noting, that in general, if the cap had been bought in Akron or Barcelona makes no difference, if it had been signed by the actual team)." The autographs have a commercial value (by virtue of rarity), but the emotional value? That one is a personal judgment call. For me, autographs obtained by other people (as in, a friend goes and has a book autographed) means that they thought of me (and it's very sweet of them), but the signature itself? Not worth much. It's going back the "if you are attached to memories of clutter you should be throwing away, take pictures of it so you can look at them and revisit those memories" argument. It works for some, and not for others. An autograph, to me, is a reminder of an encounter, a visual clue to help me remember it (and sometimes a pretext to go and have the encounter). If I didn't go and get it myself, the signature doesn't mean much. The fact that it doesn't mean much to me, doesn't mean that it has no commercial value (though I do consider the commercial value being driven by irrational emotions such as wanting to have what few people can have, or wanting to have a sample of everything pertaining to a person). It seems to me that, commercially speaking, the autographs are not an emotional, tangible, transferable value, but a rarity value. Does the fact that digital items are not unchangeable mean that rarer, physical duplicates (by virtue of rare, numbered editions, autographed copies or printing accidents) are worth less? I would argue the opposite : if content goes digital, most people won't happen to have a physical copy lying around waiting to be signed (less copies will be made of rarer editions and misprinted copies will be rarer because physical prints are smaller). Rare items will become more scarce and that should drive their value up. Going back to the original article, as long as physical, transferable copies are still being produced along with digital content, physical copies should see their long term value increase (as long as we are talking collection-quality copies : autographed, annotated by celebrities or rare by some other criteria). So, your original argument holds true only if physical copies are not being produced along with digital copies. I don't see that happening soon (after all, we're still selling manuscripts of authors, songwriters, etc. unprinted content still has a big resale value).

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

Well put. The little robot with the big head in the movie was a disasterous rendition of Douglas Adams' Marvin. I did notice the original Marvin had a cameo appearance in the movie. If they could give him a cameo, why not just use him for the actual Marvin? While watching it, I actually felt somewhat like the original (radio) Marvin: "I have a pain in all the diodes down my left side. I've asked for them to be replaced, but does anyone listen to me? No." I suppose for anyone unfamiliar with any of the BBC works, the movie would be quite entertaining - assuming they understand and enjoy British humour. But for those of us who go back that far, I should think that being drunk would be the best way to enjoy the movie. I have a suspicion we have strayed somewhat from the topic of discussion (in which I have been most enjoyably playing "devil's advocate). But then again, The Hitchhiker's Guide is more fun to talk about.

dcolbert
dcolbert

And I even understand some of the running gags throughout the series. I'll admit now to having seen the most recent movie adaptation. I found it entirely forgettable, though. I remember a robot with a big head. It is possible I was drunk at the time. :)

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

...I'm not the same AwgieDawgie, although I have been a BBC fan since the mid 70s. I've been told (and even shown) that I have a "twin" in appearance and mannerism, so it's not too surprising that there's another like me with the same handle. Mine was actually given to me by my Dad, in two ways. The nick he gave me is because of my initials, awg, which he gave me when he named me. But, I digress... So, you know the Answer... but do you know the Question? You may also be interested to know that I haven't read the entire book, but I did listen to the original radio series, and saw the original TV mini-series, and the more recent movie. (Quite frankly, I thought Trillian was a lot better looking in the BBC series than in the new movie)

dcolbert
dcolbert

The problems you outline as "distribution" challenges are unique to, and were introduced by, digital content. We're getting into a "chicken and the egg" argument down this path. Is it that the problem is with distribution, or is the problem with digital content? I suppose we're starting to see models that are able to profit from digital content distribution - but again, this introduces a whole set of other problems that did not exist with tangible content - most of which we've already discussed. Perhaps the free-market economy will catch up and be able to develop models that balance consumer protections with corporate protections while allowing the traditional liberties of actually owning tangible content. That would be great - and I think that was really the point of my article that was lost in the title. If we don't find that balance, there are two main possibilities: 1) We live in a word where the consumer has lost a fundamental part of their purchase. In the pre-digital world, I bought a book, it had some sort of tangible, residual, resale value - even if it was only a quarter at a garage sale. I saved up enough paper-backs, and I could use the proceeds to buy another one. Buy 40, get one free. The current model of digital distribution threatens to ERASE that residual wealth, and that, multiplied by a billion paper-backs sold for a quarter at millions of garage sales, is a significant chunk of wealth. 2) Consumers do not widely, broadly adopt this new technology, rejecting this model and the loss of control that digital content brings. I think we already see indications of this option being exercised - where BUYING movies via digital distribution has simply not caught on. People prefer Blu-Ray and DVD still in this market, and I think it is likely an unconscious manifestation of this understanding. So by addressing this, my goal, as always, is to get discussion going, and hope that a little wave I create here can help influence overall direction. If there are more and more people writing about this, making the same observations, and more and more people reading about it - hopefully someone at some point goes, "I've got an idea that would overcome these objections" - and it *works*. But until that time, as the model currently exists, digital content erodes value.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I used to know a guy in the late 80s who was a regular on the Sacramento BBS scene who went by the nick AwgieDawgie. There is so much about you that reminds me of him beyond your handle... I wish individual comments on TR could be given a thumbs-up, because I really enjoyed your THGTTG post. :) You might be impressed to find that I have never read it (although being so deeply entrenched in Geek-Culture, I know the Answer and I've got a pretty good idea of the overall plot line. I never got much past having my planet bulldozed in the Infocom game.) :)

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

Your observations of what will happen on the all-too-often overlooked production side, rather than the consumer side, of the matter, reminds me of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the book, the original radio broadcast, and the original TV mini-series, not the 2005 muddled up mess that was made after the author's unfortunate demise), and its recounting of the industry of luxury planet building, operated from the planet Magrathea, which charged insane amounts of money for the building of luxury planets, custom designed for the galaxy's richest customers, while dispersing none of the money back into the galactic economy. "Very soon, Magrathea itself became the richest planet of all time, and the rest of the galaxy was reduced to abject poverty, and so the system broke down. The Empire collapsed, and a long, sullen silence settled over the galaxy. Magrathea itself disappeared, and its memory soon passed into the obscurity of legend. In these enlightened days, of course, no one believes a word of it." Magrathea undoubtedly denied all along that anything could possibly be wrong with the system, or at least denied it long enough for themselves to retire, and die, very rich. Much in the same way that anyone producing this digital content of ours will deny that it could have the slightest effect on our economy right here on Earth (which, as you may recall, is actually a custom planet itself, commissioned and paid for by some very wealthy pan-dimensional beings we know as "mice"). Now, of course, anyone who has NOT read - or at least watched - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, would be thinking that I've gone stark-raving mad. But then, any such person is probably also NOT reading a discussion thread on a tech website, now are they?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

it's the inability of the established distribution methods to figure out how to profit from it. Look at television. For decades there was nothing you could hold in your hands besides the set itself. The programs were delivered over the air on the networks schedule. In most cases, a show didn't start making a profit until enough episodes were shot to syndicate the show to local stations. If it wasn't popular enough to run three years or so, it was dropped and the production costs were written off. Then came VHS and the marketing of movies. The format that worked for movies wasn't really convenient for TV; no one wanted forty single-episode cassettes or to forward through three episodes to get the fourth one they wanted to see. Now anything can be profitable after a single season via DVD sales and international distribution. People who see one or two episodes may go out and buy the DVD to see what they missed, sometimes buying multiple seasons. The digital format lets them skip around, and behind-the-scenes content and other extras add value previously unavailable. "If they could figure out a way to make a digital file something *owned* - that couldn't be easily copied, that *could* be easily transferred..." That exists, but a vocal group of consumers screams about digital rights mechanisms. The problem is many of the traditional distribution systems made an initial mistake: they gave content away for free. They did it for so long consumers became accustomed to receiving digital content at no charge, and are reluctant to pay for it.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Because we're all drawing down into a basic agreement here. I think I just touched on something else, something intrinsic in this equation of value and worth, up above in a response to the question of digital photographs. I don't want to completely repeat myself here, so hopefully you'll go back up the forum and find that post. But basically, it was this: Tangible media supports more industry, more jobs, more manufacturing, more economic activity. Tangible media creates wealth across a broader spectrum of society. Digital media consolidates wealth, erodes industry, jobs, manufacturing. You said above, "It isn't economics". Actually, once you dig VERY deep beneath the surface, it may have significant economic impact. I don't think you're just "shifting" jobs from one area to another. You're reducing jobs. You're automating. Corporations have looked at this as an opportunity to "increase profits" - but logic says that there must be a tipping point if you're increasing profits by reducing jobs. If you increase profits by reducing your entire workforce, and unemployment is at 100% - who is going to buy your product? In reality, if you reduce jobs enough, you reduce income potential enough - and that is going to drive the prices of goods down. I'm not saying digital content is responsible for the recession - but it is certainly indiciative of a bigger economic problem with increasing corporate profits and decreased consumer purchasing power. Something has to break down there eventually. That will generally happen in a devaluing of goods. Traditionally, material goods - but in modern soceity, digital goods, as well. There really is a sound economic reason on why digital content erodes value.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Fair enough question. It isn't the idea, the concept, the *content*. But I think we find that the value of the content, the willingess of the public to pay for that content - has clearly been eroded since it started to go digital. Everyone is trying to find a model to make money delivering content. If Tech Republic became a paid subscription site, would you still be here? Would I? How much less volume would there be in the forums? I imagine it would have a significant impact on the atmosphere around here. The why of it? Well, I think many of the things I point out above - things that go beyond the physical delivery method. The hard-to-qualify differences between *owning* a print copy and being licensed to read a *digital* copy. If they could figure out a way to make a digital file something *owned* - that couldn't be easily copied, that *could* be easily transferred... There you go. That is kind of the key and what causes erosion of value. If I can copy it freely while keeping my original copy - that erodes value. If I can't copy it at all, can't transfer it to someone else, that ALSO erodes value. If someone else controls that content, *that* erodes value, also. Now, even with real media, a person with enough desire can make a copy of it. Bootleg books, movies, and other goods have always been around. But if you can make it difficult to COPY buy easy to transfer ownership of - that would take a big step toward making digital content hold value compared to traditional media.

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

You make several valid points. I never said you didn't. But you seem to be largely (not completely) restricting the definition of "value" to monetary value. There is a lot more to value than just price. I'm not trying to say digital does not reduce value - both monetarily and otherwise - for many people, including you and me. I've never bought a digital book, and I don't ever intend to. But for my friend who travels with his family, the space-saving advantage of digital over printed far outweighs the monetary degradation. To him, digital is much more valuable. I'm not ignoring the absolutes, but the absolutes are only a part of a thing's total value. How much a part depends on each person. I didn't say it was only the content that matters. If that were true, you never would have had an opinion on it at all - because it wouldn't matter. To some, however, content is what matters. Personally, I would much rather have a first printing of a classic novel - even if it's got dogeared corners and stained pages. To me, that's just as valuable - even treasurable - as having the book at all. I would much rather have an original painting, even if it's a little tattered and torn. The Van Gogh print would mean nothing to me, because I would know I could easily (relatively speaking) replace it, and because I wouldn't enjoy looking at it nearly as much as the original. To me, the package is just as important as the content. I buy hardcover because they will last longer. If I can get it signed, even better. If I could get an original manuscript, I'd never let it out of my sight. But not everyone cares about that. Everyone bases their definition of "value" on a different set of criteria - for some it's money, for others nostalgia, and for others it may be based on things neither of us has even thought of. Because of that, you can't say that digital content absolutely erodes value for everyone. I can and do agree with you that it does erode value - for me. In fact it is SO worthless to me that I would never pay for it. But I know with just as much certainty that being able to have their content in digital form increases value for a number of my friends, and I'm fairly certain they're not alone. Very few of my friends are collectors or nostalgic, and none of them are out to get rich, so the monetary and the sentimental values of most things don't make much difference to them. It's still relative to what each person values, or considers valuable.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Why have we put such a huge arbitrary value on a shiny yellow soft metal for so long, or bits of sand that got caught in a clam, or hunks of coal that were under tremendous pressure for long enough?" Beats me. Fortunately, my wife doesn't get it either. :D "Digital content will erode value ..." Again, what is it that is having it's value eroded? The idea, or the physical delivery method?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

For that matter, the printed books are copies too. From that standpoint, only the original manuscript of a book has value. Oh, wait, nobody writes or types physical manuscripts any more. Those printed books you're valuing so highly are the delivery method for content the author created ... (wait for it) ... digitally!

dcolbert
dcolbert

It touches on a lot of the points you are making here. As far as typos, I used that phrase where I probably should have said, "type-setting errors". Missing pages, wrong pages, inverted pages, accidently included material not meant for distribution. The author spelling "the" "teh" on page 135, 3rd paragraph, is unlikely to result in a skyrocketing value - I think we can agree on that. And sure, all value is subjective. But that gets pretty philosophical relatively quickly. Why have we put such a huge arbitrary value on a shiny yellow soft metal for so long, or bits of sand that got caught in a clam, or hunks of coal that were under tremendous pressure for long enough? Oddly enough - some of those precious things have turned out to have some unique properties ideally suited to a technological society (we're back to "maybe we lost all ancient knowledge because it was all digital, but we remembered that gems and gold were important" area of this discussion). But I guess that *is* important to this discussion. Digital content will erode value because we agree on this as a society, I think for a variety of reasons (some subjective, like collectable value, others tangible, like the limitations and rights that you gain or lose with one format over another). Not all of us, clearly - but it doesn't matter. A lot of people don't want or wear jewelry because they don't get it - they see no value in it. That doesn't reduce the value of precious gems and metals - globally. Collectively, for a variety of reasons, digital content is eroding value, overall.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Then why does the original Van Gogh sell for *so* many times more than an inexpensive print? If it is just the *content* that matters, then the price should be comparable, because the experience of enjoying the content should arguably be the *same*, original, print, or forgery. I mean, your explaination tries to touch on this - but to the starving college student, the print *isn't* worth everything. It is worht $9.95 at the poster shop and he resells it for $.25 at a garage sale or dumps it in the garbage when he moves out of his dorm or flat at the end of 4 years. Everyone *knows* the print isn't as valuable. There are tangible reasons why the eBook isn't as valuable. Ultimately, I think the market bears this out. Apple's pricing strategy on digital content bears this out, the relative failure of digital magazines on the iPad bears this out. People ask, "I can subscribe to Wired and get a paper copy for $1 a month, but the digital copy is $4.99 per month. Why would I buy the digital copy?" There is a consistency in this response among the comments on iPad digital magazines. I can't cut the pictures out and make a project collage for my kid's science project from a digital National Geographic. Depending on the format of the digital version (and the RESTRICTIONS that the publisher enforces on my license to reuse my digital license as I see fit) - I may not even be able to print parts out. Again, those are the non-intuitive but tangible ways that electronic content erodes value - in this case, once again by removing ownership and turning it into being a licensee and giving control to the content publishers. If I want to use Nat Geo for toilet paper, I can't be stopped with the print edition. My options are generally far more limited with a digital copy. There are relative, subjective arguments, but there are tangible, absolute arguments here, too. I think you're ignoring those.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

My leaf blower is worth to me what it costs to buy another one - $100. (Only the naive insure homes for the the purchase price; smart people insure it for the replacement cost.) I don't care what the leaf blower is worth to someone else, $20 or $200, because I'm not interested in selling it. As to relative value, you're comparing the two distribution methods without considering the owners. I'm talking about the value being relative between owners. Nothing has any inherent value; value is agreed on between a buyer and seller. Lowe's says a leaf blower will cost me $100; if I buy it, that's what I agree it's worth. If misprints and inverted Jennys sell for more, it's because someone agrees to pay the higher price for the rarity. That doesn't mean normally printed editions or regular stamps are selling for any less than their retail price. "Digital content erodes value." What exactly is it eroding the value of? It can't be eroding the value of collectible hard covers. Besides, part of your original argument was the value of mistakes and errors. Electronic tools in the publishing industry (spell checkers, formatters, etc.) have eliminated many of those goofs anyway. Have those tools also 'eroded value'? Digital can't be eroding the value of the idea either. It's just another distribution method. You might as well say printed books erode the value of hand-written ones, or that movies on DVD erode the value of film, or music in a digital format erodes the value of vinyl. It's a distribution method; the content is the same. Are you saying the medium is more important than the message?

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

... you say it erodes value, but it still boils down to what someone considers valuable. To someone who reads books solely for their content, a digital copy can be just as valuable as a printed copy - perhaps even moreso, because it takes up less space, and is therefore more portable. To a book collector, however, the digital copy isn't worth the bandwidth to transfer it. But it's not because the content has changed, but simply because the collector values the printed copy - especially if it's signed - more than they value the content itself. It is true that digital content has little to no potential for an increased return, as would a signed copy of the same book. To me, that signed copy would be worth more than any price someone could offer me, but that's because I am a collector. But for my friend, who travels a lot with a large family, and has little space to carry around an entire library, that digital copy is worth far more to him than my signed copy is to me. To my brother, who reads simply to read, it would be worth the same amount whether it was a signed copy, an unsigned copy, a beat-up copy from Goodwill, or a digital copy, just as long as all the pages are there. You talk about "relative value," but you're only seeing it from one perspective. Change the context - to an art collector, an original Van Gogh is invaluable. But to someone who likes it entirely because it looks nice on the wall, a print is just as good as the real thing. To him, it's about what he SEES, where to the collector, it's about what he HAS. Then for someone else who has limited wall space, a collection of high quality digital prints from various painters can be just as good - maybe even better - because they can create a slideshow on their big-screen TV, and view several paintings without taking up any more room. To the serious collector, that digital copy, and even a print, would be an insult, because it's not the original; there's no texture; it doesn't look any different no matter how the light hits it. To him, it's worthless. To the starving college student in a one room flat, it could be worth everything. That's relative value.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

when you write this in detail. What is the fair price for a book made out of? If you take out the printing and distribution, how much is left? Is this comparable to the price of an e-book? Also, what does a person feel about a book, dog-eared and beaten up, with no resale value - on account of being read time and time and time again? I do think the collectability issue is a non-issue to most. But I also think that we probably will feel less attached to digital content.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

"Do No Evil" is an anagram of "I No Loved" How apropos. ;-)

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

Nearly every comic (or any book) collector I've ever known has been so not as an investor, but as a collector, and like you, they collected the comics they liked. They didn't handle their books with kid gloves and store them in plastic to maintain their monetary value, but so they would always be in mint condition, so every time they read them would feel like the first time. It reminds me of what a Sean Connery character once said, "Most people buy art just to show it off; I collect art for me." My brother started collecting comics when he was about six. The last thing on his mind was how much they'd be worth today, although had he hung on to them, they'd be worth quite a sizable sum. He did make a considerable profit when he sold them, and that was nearly 20 years ago. If there had been such a thing as a digital copy of anything available back then, he would have still bought the printed copy, but read the digital copy. I read digital comics if I can get them free, but I still buy the printed ones. No one can guarantee me that the digital copy will be free or even available the next time I get the urge to read it, so if I have to pay for it, I'm only paying for it once - and that's the printed one. Quite honestly, the only things I know about e-readers are that the 'e' stands for electronic, and you read stuff on them. I can do that on my laptop, and the screen is bigger. I assume there is some sort of subscription involved, plus maybe even a per-book fee. Personally, I don't get paid enough to waste money on that. If I think I'll read a book more than once, I'll buy it. If only once, I'll go to the public library and check it out.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I forgot you're kind of a late-adopter about mobile personal electronics on the one hand. That seems a little ironic. It reduces the consumers ability to effectively control the market by giving the content publishers a much higher level of artificial control over how that content is distributed and managed. It also effectively allows publishers, the distributors and vendors, and anyone with a subpoena or warrant to effectively keep a list of every piece of digital content you've ever consumed. You can't exactly buy a digital book under the name "cash". Not that I've got a huge tin-foil hat on about that - just another casual observation. But, eReaders have become inexpensive, and they'll continue to drop in price. You'll have your opportunity sooner than later.

rob123q
rob123q

I could only dream of having Action Comics #1 although I am not a Superman person either. My collection consists of mainly Marvel, Amazing Spider-man #6 graded at 8.0 and some X-men issues 10-25 are some of the best I have. I also love the work of Jack Kirby and do collect his DC works also. I also have picked up some older comics from the 40's and 50's and like the Atlas and Charlton works. I am not saying that when I aquire one of these I do not read it, but protecting it from further abuse is a priority. I guess what it really comes down to is preference. Reading a digital comic or book does not ever compare to holding the actual item in your hands and reading it. Digital will never totally replace the real thing for us old timers, but the option is there.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I didn't read Superman; Action #1 had no appeal to me. I read the X-Men, and GS #1 meant far more to me than Action #1 ever would have. Digitally, I can afford either or both. The only reason I haven't jumped to an e-reader is I can't afford the initial outlay. I'd convert about 90% of my books to digital format right now if I could do it for free. I still think there's a 'book club' marketing model waiting to be developed, something along the lines of "Buy eight books and we'll give you the e-reader free!"

dcolbert
dcolbert

I haven't ever handled my comics with a white glove treatment, and I've got some pretty nice, plastic-bag stored 1st editions myself. But does a giant sized X-Men #1 really compare at all to a mint Action Comic #1 original print?

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