Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I'm glad I asked

The textbook was about $135 new, no used copies. But oh, it says here I could get an e-book. I'm sure that would be cheaper.

It was, about $40 cheaper. Sounds great!

I'm glad I asked about the restrictions on it. In my initial naivety I had assumed it would be something like a password-restricted PDF or maybe some sort of online format that I could access anywhere but couldn't copy or print. Ha.

Instead it was something like unlimited use on one computer, limited ability to print, temporary use on two other computers. Let's go over that again.

I pay $40 less. In return I save them the costs of printing, shipping, storage, just about all costs associated with the book minus the creativity cost (which admittedly is still a huge part) plus a penny for digital access. I guess that's not enough savings, so they create pretend savings: making the product worse at no benefit to themselves.

The physical book I could sell back for something like half the purchase price at the end of the semester. That would take the effective price from $135 to only about $70. I can afford to 'lose' the $40 now in order to get back the $70 later. I can't sell back the e-book, and if I interpreted what they said correctly, it expires after a year anyway. While I am unlikely to keep the physical book pasta year, there is some small chance and that has a dollar value (a small, vague dollar value), in addition to the dignity of actually owning the book.

So in the end I chose to pay more for a product that is mine to write on and resell and carry around anywhere and no one can take it away because I violated to terms of use. It is my property, not a rental to be stolen at the convenience of the vendor.

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