Experiment: Digital Permanence and Ownership

Annika Backstrom
in misc, on 1 April 2012. It is tagged #Computers, #Freedom, #drm, #ebooks, and #kindle.

When it comes to digital goods, I'm hesitant where I throw my money. Value is subjective and situational. I'm not a huge movie buff and I rarely rewatch, so \$8.99/monthly for Netflix isn't bad. On the other hand, I loathe the idea of subscription-based music: if I wanted to listen to it once, I will want to listen again in the future, and I don't want to be at the mercy of someone else's uptime and pricing scheme.

I've bought a handful of technical books from O'Reilly, but never any fiction. So, an experiment: I've purchased Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games from the Amazon Kindle store for \$5.00. This book is DRM-locked, and can only be read using a compatible application. I'll use this post to track the lifespan of this purchase. At least if I remember to.

Hm, I should also buy the paperback for a true comparison of digital vs. analog.


Amazon appears to be a stable company with a long future, though the eBook market as a whole lacks cohesion and predictability. If the Kindle (or at least the Kindle book market) survives, I expect modern platforms to always have a working Kindle reader. Older platforms may fall into disrepair, and fringe platforms may lack compatibility. I will always be able to download the book from the Kindle store.

I expect to be able to read this eBook indefinitely, though other "richer" forms of media may try to entice me to buy a more modern version with more featuers.

March 2012

I purchased the eBook the last day of March, 2012. I was able to read it on my HP TouchPad (a discontinued device) using the Amazon Kindle Beta application for webOS. I also have the ability to read this book through a web browser or the Kindle for Mac application.