(Digital vs Physical) vs (Owned vs Licensed)

There are really two questions being discussed here, the question of format and the question of ownership. Cory Doctrow is only talking about the question of ownership, but I think both questions are interesting.

I am a total bibliophile, I have shelves lining all the available space in my tiny apartment. The feel of a physical book .. the pages under my fingers ... it's all part of the experience. But, when it comes right down to it, it is the story, and the content that is the most important. I have an even larger number of books on my computer as .txt or .pdf files. I own these books, and they are 'physical' just as much as a regular book is. I can pass these down to my children, I can lend them out, I can give them away ... I can also make an unhindered number of copies if I want to. And, in fact many of the electronic books I own have been downloaded from some site or another and are illegal to own.

Eventually, they will make ebook readers that are bound in leather, and are an artifact in and of themselves, rather than feeling like a stiff piece of plastic. I own a Kindle, and for the most part I'm pretty happy. It lets me read my electronic books in a more convenient way. Plus, free wireless :-)

Now, the other question, that of book ownership, is a huge deal. The first question is a matter of preference, and no one cares which way you like to read your books (well, they might care, but it's not really their business). Adding DRM to a book is to deny you complete ownership. If I buy a copy of a physical book, I can photocopy it, and then bind it up to make it into another copy. I just have to pay for the paper. There are devices that will let you do this very quickly and efficiently. Creating duplicate digital copies is much easier, but it is the same principle. Before this, book publishers just banked on the majority of their readers to be too lazy to go to all that trouble, and they would only loose a small percentage of sales. But, now that it is so easy anyone can do it in seconds, they are afraid that the percentage of people who won't go and buy a copy will skyrocket.

To solve this problem, they have tried to limit that facet of ownership, but in doing so they have also limited a large number of other ownership rights, for example the right to lend an item to another person, the right to pass down a copy to a relative, and the right to not have to worry that it will disappear if the company who sold it to you goes out of business. Some of these problems have been addressed, but the idea remains that you do not actually own the book that you purchased (or game, or movie, or song, or operating system, or whatever).

The World

I made the following map - it is not very scientific, and was done by eye. This is a map of browser preference by country. It is very interesting! Internet Explorer (Blue), Firefox (Orange) and Opera (Red) are the only browsers with a majority in any one country. Chrome shows up as a major contender in a few countries, but is never the top browser (yet).