The Perils Of Digital Buying

Late last week, the company behind the Edges and Angus & Robertson guide chains put them into administration, citing mounting losses in the physical store space. Online sales of books (and other items) may have performed a part, and to a lesser extent, mainly because it’s still quite a nascent marketplace, e-book sales.

Borders Australia was obviously a keen seller of eBooks, advertising the Kobo platform as its own, as well as selling Sony’s e-readers in the stores. One of the first stories to come out from the collapse of Borders in Australia came from Kobo representatives (it’s really a Canadian company) stating that will Australian Kobo e-book purchases would certainly still be valid and could still be accessed even if the physical Borders stores proceeded to go under. I’m not sure what will occur to the physical stores, but the spectre of online sales vanishing in the puff of data centre is definitely something that I suspect we’ll all of have to face in the not-too-distant upcoming.

Considering that it is now possible to buy textbooks, movies, music and software since purely digital goods, spread across devices that may have their own storage or may rely on “phoning home” to a specific server to verify that you’ve got the rights to play them, it’s a problem that’s only likely to grow in scope. As an example, Nokia made a lot of noise a couple of years back with its “Comes With Music” service, which promised unlimited music downloads for specific phone models as long as a subscription was paid, however the take up of the offer (and Htc smartphones in general) hasn’t been excellent. Nokia’s virtually axed the service outside of a handful of countries (Australia’s not one of them), so if you pick up the Comes With Music phone, you’ve got a lot less value than you might think, particularly if you’ve not verified your play-back rights, or if your PC dies on you.

With physical goods, an individual has always got something that you can open up to read, pop into a player to hear or view, and, naturally sufficient, sell on to other people. Digital items don’t have those benefits, although these kinds of are easier to buy, sometimes cheaper and much simpler to store.
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Good backing up is actually essential, but be wary if you’re buying goods that require some kind of DRM validation (Digital Rights Management); that could come back to bite you if the DRM support goes offline.

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