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April 11, 2005

Harry Potter and the WHSmiths employee

So I was in WHSmiths on Saturday (buying an A5 notebook if you really want to know) and I handed it to the guy at the till he said,

"Would you like to preorder the new Harry Potter book?"

I'd heard him say this to everyone else in the queue in front of me, obviously WHSmiths are trying to drum up some business. Anyway I looked at him with a tired expression and shook my head (I hate that sort of sales approach). He said

"I'll take that as a no."

"I will buy it," I replied, "but I'm not going to preorder it." Although the truth is that I'll probably preorder it from Amazon.

And then the guy said, "Well they'll have probably scanned it in as soon as it's released and you can download it off the internet."

I was a bit aghast, I couldn't believe that a WHSmiths employee was suggesting I just download a ripped book! Perhaps he thought he was being cool?

"Actually I prefer reading books to reading on a screen," I said. But by then he had given up any interest in the conversation.

Now let me clear up my feelings on the subject. I'm not a rabid RIAA style IP crusader. But ripping books seems like such a waste of time. Just buy the book! Of course it will be great when books exist in digital format as well as physical format, then you can do all the searching, mashup, addon shennanigans you want. But I'll probably still buy the book, and I'm quite happy to pay for the production (although give more money to the authors please). An example of this, I downloaded Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom (UK/US) but then bought the book to read it, all for reasons that have been well documented by Charles Stross [1] [2] and Cory Doctorow [3] and probably many others.

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