E-Stuff

Ever since I was a young nipper at home, I have always loved books. Somehow it was drilled into me from a very tender age that reading equalled power.

And never was I more in my element than with my nose in a book. Of course, as a child I loved playing outside with my friends, tearing around on my bicycle, kicking old leather footballs with my mates… you know, kid stuff.

But once the excitement was over, especially in hot, dreary, dragging afternoons, there I was again, a fan wafting cooler air over me as I got lost in adventures, dragons, spaceships, soldiers. Whatever it was, I wanted it.

I read books everywhere. On my bed, in the bath, on the toilet. Everywhere. And when I read, I zoned out to the rest of the world. It was as if time stood still.

When I grew up a little more, perhaps reaching fourteen or fifteen, this interest in books remained, but an intruder crept in. And this took the form of computer games.

So it is hardly surprising that people thought of me as a geek. Or a nerd. A book-reading, game-playing, heavy metal nerd. Yep. Seems about right.

As one can imagine I had an impressive book collection, fuelled by my desire to absorb more every week. When I started adding computer game collections to my books…. Well, you can see where this is going.

And if one thinks that books took up space, just imagine what computer game boxes did! You would have this 9inch by 6inch by 2inch high colour durable carboard box which held, at most 2 floppies, and sometimes, a manual.

Add to these an ever growing collection of LPs and comics, and suddenly space became a premium I could no longer afford. The beauty of all this printed material was that you could FEEL that you were getting your money’s worth.

Artwork was beautiful on the LPs…I mean, have you ever SEEN an Iron Maiden sleeve? Simply awesome.

With CDs, that disappeared into a 5inch square reproduction. Hardly inspiring. The sound was, on the other hand brilliant. Gone was the much maligned sybillance at the end of the album sides.

Naturally I had a huge huge collection. Bear with me for a while. This will all come clear at a point…

Roll on some years later and technological marvels came to light. In the audio industry the MP3 file format was released, spelling doom for many sellers. With online stores like iTunes and Spotify, a subscription means you can listen to all the albums you want for a monthly pittance.

And lately, books became available in electronic format.

Now don’t get me wrong, as I find there is space for both formats, but in my opinion, an ebook has too many advantages over a traditional mass-produced paperback, and here I am talking about novels, not coffee-table books.

One, and most importantly, ebooks are available for download immediately the day they are released. Two, they are invariably cheaper. Three, you can fit a LOT of books in a clear e-ink display device weighing less than 80 grammes, and finally, there are nefarious ways to obtain ebooks through illegal means. Not endorsing it. Just saying that there are ways.

Far too many times I have been drawn into endless, pointless discussions on how a dead-tree book is far better than an electronic text. I will say this and no more on the matter. It’s the same bloody story! Ok? Ok. Moving on.

Games too have had their hit, and are now conveniently packaged in a downloadable format which has its advantages, but just like the other entertainment issues above, has its problems.

Let’s get down to the real nitty-gritty then.

What happens when one dies?

What happens to my Google account? My iTunes library. My Kindle account? And all my Steam games?

Where is the resale value in all this? Perhaps with the Google, Kindle and Steam accounts, they can be still kept open.

But what if my kids lose my password? And what if they do not want to continue paying the iTunes subscription? Will they lose their music?

The answer is. Yes. We have become so tied electronically with our devices, that it is impossible to re-sell these items. I own about 50 games in Steam format. They can still be played. But certainly not resold.

Unless one sells his email account. Can’t imagine the hell that this would bring about!

This is the danger of tying everything to one’s mail. It is all a very grey area which needs exploring. We have to be honest here. I am not sure my kids will want to play my games. It is also evident that they will not be able to resell them just like I did with my older ones.

As for the itunes albums, that is a dead cert it is never going to happen. And that is why many people pirate games, movies, comics, books, music.

For too long, the business moguls have been knocking people around for far too much time. They have grown fatter with the spoils of sales, giving little lee-way in return.

There is only so much you can pressure consumers into.

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