ode to hard copies

So have you ever considered how much the modern electronic age is changing the habits of consumers? In the past year I have not purchased a single CD, though I have purchased a substantial amount of music, I have bought only a few (5 or 6) paper books though I have bought many more books than that and just lately I have ended my relationship with my cable TV provider. In place of hard CDs, hard copy books and cable television I now use, purchase, read, listen and watch either on my computer or on a device that is updated from my computer. In place of albums I now purchase tracks from Itunes from all kinds of artists in many genres of music. In place of paper books I now read ebooks on a Sony Reader buying them from stores all round the world, getting books I never would have seen in my local Chapters store. In place of cable TV I (and my family) have been watching BBC (from England), CBC (from Canada) and sitcoms from the US, all streamed to our computer in HD quality and most days displayed on our HD television.
In most cases the switch is painless, inexpensive and rewarding for the breadth of material that comes available. In Itunes I can (most times) find music I would not find in local stores, sample tracks and then buy individual tracks or whole albums. Some retailers though just don’t get it, book sellers are the worst. For instance the other day I was looking at a new “World of Warcraft” novel (yeah I know it’s crap and will never replace Tolstoy as a classic, but it is a good read), the book in hard cover is $32 in Canada. You would think that the Ebook, with no shipping, no bulk should be cheaper right? Wrongo! The Sony ebook site wanted $25 US for it (not really any cheaper when translated into Canadian dollars) and WH Smith in the UK wanted 20 pounds for the same book. I thought the hard cover was too much at $32, I am certainly not paying a similar price for the Ebook version. Makes no sense. Some of the music vendors are similarly afflicted charging hard copy prices for electronic goods.
Balance will come though as more and more consumers start to buy electronic versions of books, music, television shows and other consumer products. A great many stores, industries and services are still finding their way in the new world of electronic commerce, discover what they can sell and how to sell it. I for one can’t wait, though I do keep draining the damn batteries in my music player and my reader and my PDA … sigh.

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