Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Digital Dilemma

This is something I’ve been going back and forth with for a while now. Tonight I went to Borders to play Cashflow with my brother and some of our friends. While over there I picked a copy of Bill Phillips’ Transformation (was curious about it since he wrote Body for Life), and looked for the new Shonen Jump.

It occurred to me later on that there might be electronic versions of those – maybe at Amazon, maybe Borders.com or some other outlet. Would they cost the same? Maybe less? I’ve been doing this with my music increasingly over the years and I like it. Because of this, I know that there’s a couple big perks for me:

  • No clutter. I’ve been thinning out my stuff and not having to worry about storing physical copies of things would be great. Having everything on my computer and making my computer my library is appealing, especially for magazines and other periodicals.
  • Portability. With an eReader, be it on a cell phone, tablet/pad or computer I could take them anywhere I want pretty easily without putting anything at any real risk.
  • Security. I can back up my digital media fairly easily. If I lose or damage a book, well, I’m out of luck.
  • Free stuff. There’s a lot of legally, legitimately free things out there.

The idea of being able to have a practical library with me like that is highly appealing. Books, magazines, whatever. Heck, I’ve even got a few RPG’s that I bought in PDF format so having them like that would be great for reference. And since I can make PDF’s through various applications I’ve got, I know I can make notes and reference materials for myself that way too.

But, there’s also a problem, too. Okay, lets say I buy something digitally. None of that money stays here locally. Given Hawai’i’s economy I think that’s important. I’m not worried about the sales tax – its just that when I buy something online the company on the mainland keeps everything. None of that money sticks around here, helping with local jobs, helping the employees I know and love at my local Borders get paid.

Now, some things this matters more than other things. I do like stuff that doesn’t get carried here, so that’s really not a big deal. I’d have to order away anyhow, and honestly some stuff would never survive in retail anyhow. But things I can get here? It does bug me a bit. Now, one could go ahead and use the old cliche, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too,” which is an odd cliché when you think about it (its in my hand – why can’t I eat it?), but what gets me is it doesn’t have to be that way, you know?

I’m considering writing a letter to Borders later - something for higher up on the management chain than my local store manager. I would be very inclined to get an eReader from them (maybe a Kobo) if I knew that I could still support my local Borders.


  1. I too am debating the real-book vs ebook idea. I have, at this point, three different ebook readers installed on my MotoDroid (one of which is Kindle for Android). Ebooks are a bit cheaper, better for the environment, blah blah blah, but, I love books. I love the feel of books, the smell of books. Also, with the RPG books in PDF concept, while much more portable, PDF's are much harder to read on my Droid screen, for starters, and also, I can't tab, dog ear or highlight things for quick reference rules disputes. As the tech improves though, I can see myself going digital just for the lack of clutter, as you say. ;-)

  2. PS. If an Android based tablet comes out (as is being suggested) and is reasonably priced, I'll be even more likely to start grabbing ebooks since a tablet screen would be much easier to read than my Droid screen.