Links and articles about technology, design, and sociology. Written by Rian van der Merwe. Follow @RianVDM
Sharing books and music: not as similar as we might think
Nicholas Carr looks at the differences between customers who buy/share books vs those who buy/share music, specifically within the context of piracy. In Books ain’t music he notes:
The unauthorized copying of songs and albums did not begin with the arrival of the web or of MP3s or of Napster. It has been a part of the culture of pop music since the 1960s. There has been no such tradition with books. Xeroxing a book was not an easy task, and it was fairly expensive, too. Nobody did it, except, maybe, for the occasional oddball. So, even though the large-scale trading of bootlegged songs made possible by the net had radically different implications for the music business than the small-scale trading that had taken place previously, digital copying and trading didn’t feel particularly different from making and exchanging tapes. It seemed like a new variation on an old practice.
His observations are fascinating. It shows that even though record labels certainly deserve their share of the blame when it comes to the dismal state of the commercial music industry, the history and context of music sharing has an enormous part to play in the rise of modern-day music piracy. The publishing industry has a very different historical context, so we can’t just apply the “lessons” from the music industry to the challenges introduced by digital books.