Jul 27, 2011

Paper demand response

For long I've been a subscriber of alerts from the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN). Today I've received an email informing me of another service they are offering resulting from requests from both authors and readers:
"In response to requests from authors and readers to purchase printed and bound hard copies of papers on SSRN, we provide a 'Purchase Bound Hard Copy' service for most free PDF files in SSRN's eLibrary.FAQ
Clearly an(other) argument to build upon the affordances of paper beyond all the digital offerings available and being built that shows market demand for paper products. 

Just yesterday another argument crossed my information spaces. In short, Paula Simões compared the consumer costs associate with buying a paper Book versus buying an eBook with DRM (Digital Rights Management). Albeit the immediate cost of acquisition favouring the eBook, after the purchase the costs are much higher for the eBook then for the paper Book. Those costs, besides the need to have additional artefacts to actually decode and read the product (eReader, computer, etc), concern social factors and even use factors. While we can lend books to our friends, sell them in second hand markets, and even leave them to our family or donate them to libraries, eBooks with DRM do not allow such affordances. And this is no minor issue. The original post as receive a lot of other comments that are adding layers of costs associated with DRM (you can use the google translate if Portuguese is a barrier).

Thing is, most of us do not have the required time to undergo an exhaustive study of all our artefacts restrictions so things like DRM might go unnoticed for quiet a long time... until the day we realize by self experience or by reading about others' experiences, that DRM restricts the social behaviour of sharing information by restricting the product to a specific artefact and only for the person who acquire it.

Am I missing something or this is one more point in favour of good old paper? Since people are talking way beyond their geographic limitations, will people keep on paying for eBooks with DRM? Seems that in Portugal, two large national editors are going to have to rethink their product restrictions policies.