The Kindle and other e-readers are fantastic products, but you can’t wrap a digital book and put it under your tree. Surely there’s a solution so that we can keep on giving (and unwrapping) books at Christmas?
Last Christmas Ben Stevens bemoaned the fact that the digitisation of music, books, films and even magazines was robbing us of the traditional staples of the Christmas giving period.
We can give digital gifts anyway, but it’s a shame to lose the ritual of gift opening – even if it’s obvious what it is!
It was with this in mind that I informed my friends and family not to buy me books this Christmas – not because I wouldn’t like them, but because I’d prefer to read them on my Kindle. I confess to a pang of guilt as I said this, as I’d just made everyone’s Christmas shopping that little bit harder.
I was then reminded that the film industry has tackled and solved this very issue. The majority of major Blu-ray releases now come packaged in ‘triple packs’ where you get the Blu-ray, a DVD copy and a digital copy that can be copied to your PC for use on mobile devices or PCs. Why can’t the same be done for books?
The pros and cons of free digital books
There are probably a dozen ways this could be done – ideally books in shops would come with a token or code that could be used to redeem a digital copy. This would be the most convenient solution, but there is a fairly obvious flaw – what’s to stop people redeeming the digital copy and selling the paper copy on?
This doesn’t happen with films because the digital and ‘high-def’ versions are fundamentally different in terms of quality, but most of the time this can’t be said of books.
A more straightforward solution might be a simple trade-in scheme. Upon returning a book to a store, it could then be traded for a code to get the digital copy. That way publishers and retailers wouldn’t lose out on a sale, and customers will get the book they want in the format they want.
Maybe all this is just impractical, or there’s a better solution to the problem – perhaps we’ll just resign ourselves to gifting vouchers in place of the real thing? But for me I’d prefer not to lose the delight of opening a present and discovering a book that I’d never have thought of buying myself, but which turned out to be brilliant.
Either that or I should stop being so fussy. You decide.