Sunday, September 15, 2013

Let's Get Physical!

Or not...

I've been reading a lot of posts lately on different forums, in particular with the digital release of Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs, that some people are upset that there is no physical option available for purchase. Being the writer that I am, I looked at this frustration through the lens of eBooks.

I'll admit that I was hesitant to go all-in on Kindle at the beginning. I viewed eBooks as a novelty and not a necessity. After all, I was one of the millions who plunked down cold, hard cash at big book retailers to buy Harry Potter at midnight releases, and even now, I still prowl the book sections at both local BullMoose outlets, looking to feed my hunger for a paperback or even the occasional hardcover.

But, are we really losing anything when it comes to a physical product? More important to note, in my opinion, is this: In many cases there isn't a physical product simply because it doesn't exist. In the case of indie book publishing, this is almost always the case. Unless you go with CreateSpace for a paperback, a physical book like you would pick up at a store just doesn't exist. It's not hidden somewhere - not locked away in the Disney Vault (which still hasn't given me my Aladdin on blu ray!). The product is the digital file, as you can see with the whole Amnesia issue.

Why is having a digital file scary?

Well, I can say that people are always worried that their collections are going to just become deleted someday, and that's fair enough. I went through a year or two when an album I'd purchased on iTunes was unavailable due to a contract expiration and, since I hadn't backed up a physical copy of this album, when my iPod crashed, I was without that album. Poof, goodbye.

But, with the cloud and Amazon, I am not afraid that my eBook collection is going anywhere in a hurry. In fact, I have downloaded books I bought back in 2010 to my new Paperwhite, and they were exactly the same as they were when I purchased them. I believe that is the plus side of all this digital marketplace business - the products don't age.

I can't tell you how many books I've purchased as physical objects that are now collecting dust and wearing away on my shelves at home. They get old. Nothing lasts forever. The surprising thing is, once my eReader becomes obsolete or battered, I can get a new one. My books remain the same quality as they did on day one.

So, as you shop for eBooks and other digital goods, keep in mind that the shelf life doesn't expire on these goodies. This means a lot less dusting in my own home, for which I am always very thankful!