Is It Truly Necessary To Actually Own Digital Books?

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de...

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de eBook Беларуская: Фотаздымак электроннай кнігі Русский: Фотография электронной книги (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When a piece of software is being updated often enough so newer features can enhance a user experience, people tend to care little about the terms of the agreement which came with the software .  Perhaps, the terms of the agreement for different software are varied in terms, and some might allow the buyers of the software to actually own the software.  Other software might come under the terms of licensing only, and by these terms the buyers of the software might not even know that the software they had purchased are not truly theirs.  This is understandable, because most people would gloss over the terms of agreement when there is a big ooO button which says click here to agree with the terms before you can install the software.  Have you ever purchased a software that would present you the terms of agreement first before you pay up?  To the best of my knowledge, I don’t remember any software purchase I had made over the Internet (i.e., digital download) would ever present me the terms of agreement before I already had paid up with a credit card.  Has common sense told us that we should have only agreed to something first before we purchase anything?

The digital age is rather convenient but senseless as hell.  Why is that?  Not only software front is unclear about who own what when a transaction has made, other digital types of purchase are being challenged in the same sense.  NBC News came out with a piece with the title “You don’t own your Kindle books, Amazon reminds customer,” and as I read this an anger simmers inside.  I’m not angry at a particular entity or a person, but I’m angry at how we, the consumers, have allowing the murky water to darken otherwise a pretty clean understanding of what a purchase really means.  When people are forking over money for any good, whether it would be digital or not, people should have a guaranty of some sort that their purchase would not end up be meaningless when the meaningless is not of their own fault.  This means, as long a buyer of something isn’t breaking something on purpose after he or she had purchased the product (digital or not), this very person should not bear the brunt of a complicit understanding that the access to a purchase isn’t in the control of the eventual owner (i.e., a buyer of a product ).

I love books, and sometimes I have to admit I purchase books for the thinking that I will read them later on.  Sometimes I do read some of the books that I’ve purchased on a moment of temptation, and sometimes I forget about them completely.  Then there is that time that I pat myself for purchasing a book early on, because such a time inspires me to go on and read and not have to go on and ponder on the prospect of owning such a book.  As a book lover and a reader with a small brain that can hardly contain much after a reading, I think highly of a book purchase.  I want to know that whatever book that I want to purchase will be able to allow me to have access to it for its entire lifespan.  With a physical book, physical damages can definitely shorten a lifespan of a book.  With a digital book, a file corruption can just be as lethal.

Since digital books have become so prevalent today, it’s in our interest to ponder on the meaning of purchasing a digital book.  Is it truly necessary to actually own digital books?  The prevalence of digital books have upended the possibility of actually owning a book as the case in which NBC News had reported, and knowing this is truly saddening me.  It’s saddening me not because I might not be able to revisit the same book decades later, but it’s more of a case of knowing a digital book outlet can turn off one’s account to prevent one from having any access to a digital library that supposedly being owned by…  Perhaps, owning a digital library is not actually owning?  When one cannot truly own a copy of a digital book, is it worse than a book burning?  Of course not, because a book burning equates to eradicate all copies of a book from the existence, thus some important knowledge might as well be lost.  With having said blocking one from his or her digital book library isn’t as bad as book burning, this is still pretty serious.  This begs us to ask, isn’t digital-information age is all about spreading more knowledge and not about having barriers between a woman and her books or a man and his books?

It’s understandable that some degree of greed is tolerable.  A good example of this would be a software which gets update often with newer features… and the buyers don’t have to actually outright owned this software as they’re more of renting it even though they are actually buying it.  I think it’s intolerable for digital books to be treated just the same as software.  Even a technical, digital book that gets update often with newer knowledge, the buyers still have to purchase the updated version of the book with the same or even at a higher price.  There is no guaranty that any software that is being updated will have a cheaper upgrade price, but it’s mostly the case that we see newer versions of many software get cheaper upgrade prices.  The same thing cannot be said for most books, digital or not.  With this understanding, I think vastly different digital products should be purchased and owned in different manners.  Personally, I think the acts of buying and owning digital books should equate to  the acts of buying and actually owning digital books.  How come I didn’t compare the acts of buying and owning of digital books to the acts of buying and owning of physical books?  It’s because I think the acts of purchasing and owning digital books should speak for themselves.  For an example, nobody should have to ever again fear that one cannot have access to her or his digital book library just because he or she might anger a digital book outlet overlord for whatever reasons.  Sure, a person can just go to another digital book outlet to purchase the same books to build a digital library again, but this means this person has to spend more money for the same things.  One has to wonder though, what if several specific books would only be carried by the digital book outlet which had banned a person’s access to his or her digital book library?

In conclusion, it might be wrong of me to think that it’s almost OK for one to complicit in renting a software even though one actually is purchasing a software.  It also might be wrong of me to almost compare the case of being banned from a (paid for and owned by) digital content library as to a case of book burning.  Nonetheless, I think we have to admit that having a common sense on owning digital contents is really really important.  Furthermore, to narrow down our focus, I think it’s super important for us to have a common sense on owning digital books.  After all, digital books have become so prevalent!  Digital books are so prevalent in a sense that people tend to reach out for them more than otherwise.  Whether people want to acquire knowledge conveniently or not through the mean of digital books, digital books are so ready to be purchased on a moment of temptation.  Perhaps, digital books will become one of the few preferable ways for people to acquire knowledge fast and cheaply.  As digital books may become even more prevalent than how they already are, it’s in our interest to know and question our digital book consuming behaviors (i.e., buying and owning digital contents).  Thus, I wonder is it truly necessary to actually own digital books?


Best Buy’s Weak Online Presence Adds More Doubts To Best Buy’s Future

Logo of Best Buy, US-based retail chain

Logo of Best Buy, US-based retail chain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not too long back, I had posted an article on Best Buy’s closing down of 50 selected stores.  In the article I had mentioned how brick and mortar stores such as Best Buy can actually survive the onslaughts of online juggernauts such as Amazon.  Unfortunately, lately I have the feeling that Best Buy might never be able to recover and will find itself to go down the path of failed big box retailers such as Circuit City.  How come?  So far, Best Buy does not show any sign of taking customers away from its main competitors such as Amazon, and so Best Buy’s in store strategies are definitely not working to Best Buy’s advantages.  Meanwhile, personally and recently I had a bad online experience with Best Buy which confirmed my thinking now that Best Buy might never be able to regain the market dominance.

So, the story went like this.  I purchased Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings with Best Buy’s website.  I went for the digital download version.  I thought digital download version would be quicker than just drive to the store and grab a physical copy of the game.  I was wrong!  After the purchased of the digital version of Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings, I waited for at least forty five minutes to one hour more (something like that) before I received a confirmation email that contained the instruction and detail of game download.  Unfortunately, Best Buy wanted you to download Best Buy PC App first before you could download whatever digital contents you bought with Best Buy.  So I went ahead and downloaded Best Buy PC App, and I found out the app refused my login credential even though I had log into Best Buy account using the browser just fine, using the same credential of course.  I called up Best Buy for help but got redirected couple times before someone was able to help me solve my problem.  So, I thought finally everything would be smooth sailing!  Unfortunately, I found out that through Best Buy PC App, the download of the game was way too slow.  Sure, the game was huge in size, around 13 GB, but I had downloaded many things around this size so many times faster than the download speed that I got from Best Buy PC App.

My Internet connection was and still is capable of downloading stuffs up to 24 Mb/s, but my download with Best Buy PC App felt like the speed was lurking below 5 Mb/s!  I wasn’t downloading anything else at the time!  The download with Best Buy should not have any competition, therefore it should be able to download much much faster.  It wasn’t the case as you already knew!

The moral of the story was that Best Buy’s online capability is so limited that it hurts just to buy stuffs from Best Buy’s online presence (i.e., website).  The idea of downloading digital contents from Best Buy is to save time from driving to a store — an illusion of instant gratification.  Perhaps, I think in certain scenarios even this notion might not be so true when one does the math, to be exact.  (What if you live so near to a Best Buy that you can just walk to it?  So driving to the store might get you the game faster than downloading a really huge game over the Internet, right?)  Unfortunately, Best Buy’s online presence is too slow to deliver its digital contents, therefore Best Buy’s online competitors may not have a hard time in pulling certain customers away from Best Buy.  Don’t Best Buy know that their online customers might also be their brick and mortar customers?  When a brand is as huge as Best Buy fails to beef up its online presence, it tells the customers that Best Buy brand isn’t a serious brand anymore.  The feeling of Best Buy isn’t serious enough might translate into something much worse for Best Buy brand, because Best Buy isn’t the only brand in town that can deliver the goods.  So, I think Best Buy needs to beef up its online presence quick and they have to do it right or else time is running out for Best Buy, I think!

In summary, I really want to see Best Buy and other brick and mortar stores survive and thrive, because these stores allow me to experience an illusion of instant gratification — as in driving to a store and grab something quick.  Nonetheless, when these stores fail to please customers on their premises, their only chance might be all about their online presences (another potential for delivering an illusion of instant gratification).  If these brick and mortar stores have weak online presences, in general isn’t this means that these stores are deliberately delivering a slow death to their brands?  It won’t be a good thing for customers when brick and mortar stores go away, because waiting for one day delivery is still one day waiting.  Sometimes, more days of waiting for a delivery can happen at chances.  So, I really want to see Best Buy and similar brick and mortar stores shape themselves up, quick and fast!

Google Turns Up The Heat Against Competitors With Google Play, Allowing Googlers To Enjoy All Of Their Media In One Place Online

I don’t know what to make of Google Play just yet in practical sense, but it’s available now!  Nonetheless I dabble on…  It seems to me Google Play is how Google turns up the heat in competing against Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iTunes.  Google Play seems to boast of allowing Googlers to access all of their media in one place, but the beautiful thing about Google Play is that Googlers can access all of their media in one place online.  So, as long a Googler has an Internet connection and necessary equipment (e.g., laptop, iPad, iPhone), he or she can basically browse their media with Google Play.

Of course, users who actually have been buying and consuming Google’s media will definitely experience eureka with Google Play, but users who are so far only consuming media from Amazon or Apple might hesitate to try out Google Play — they might not want to invest their money in Google Play when their vast archives of media are already stored with Apple or Amazon.  Nonetheless, I think Google Play looks awesome and might be an awesome all in one online media destination for Googlers, because Googlers get to check out their books, movies, music, and so on all within Google Play.

I’m pretty sure that Googlers have to sign into their accounts before they can fully enjoy Google Play, because Google Play links all of their Google’s media accounts together.  How do I know this?  I can actually browse my Google Music within Google Play.  Of course, once you have a Google account, I think Google Play is pretty much made itself available to you.

Update:  Oh, one last thing I forgot to mention in this post is that Google Play is also making Android apps available to Googlers!

My Heart Is Tingling With Joy, But Will Not Sing Unless The Price Tag For The First Solar-Powered Kindle Cover Prices At A More Reasonable Price

English: Latest Kindle (2011) showing Esperant...

Image via Wikipedia

Nothing makes my heart tingling more with joy than having electronic devices that aren’t so depending on the traditional power sources.  For an instance, keyboard that is powered by solar cells would be something that I won’t hesitate in having to yearn for.  Now, my heart just a tad happier than usual since there is now a Kindle cover which uses solar cells for powering the Kindle, and this solar-powered Kindle cover will make its appearance in CES 2012.

I’m a Kindle user, and my Kindle rocks in term of lasting for days if not a week before I even think about recharging it.  Nonetheless, the idea of prolonging the Kindle’s battery life per charging cycle even much much more, to a point of forgetfulness is almost making my heart sings.  Why almost?  Unfortunately, this solar-powered Kindle cover will cost around $79.99.  You can check out this solar-powered Kindle cover at


Why Do Shoppers Bother With More Than Few Successful Online Stores?

Oxfam online shop advert

Image by net_efekt via Flickr

Why do we even bother to shop at different online stores even though we hardly have to physically move about?  Perhaps, it’s convenient for us to just type another web address into the browser’s address bar, but it is not so pleasant for us to have to land on mediocre online store after mediocre online store, right?  Time in minutes does worth something so to speak.  Also, how can we trust new, mediocre online stores when we have huge online retailers such as Amazon?

Besides the conveniency of visiting online stores and trust factors, what more for us to consider having more online stores would be the way to go?  Perhaps, online shoppers are always onlooking for better online deals?  Obviously, the Internet is making it unbelievable easier to search for better deals than actually move about from one brick and mortar store after another.  Huge online stores such as Amazon makes it even easier, easier for online shoppers to search their stores for great deals of the day, the month, and the year.

Still, the question lingers in my mind is why people even bother to shop at different online stores even though the physical movement isn’t a part of the shopping equation?  Usually, the right sight, smell, taste, and touch of various shopping items might lead to an enhance shopping experience.  Even the smile from a retail clerk and a conversation with a friend in a retail store might lead to unwise spending but a happy shopping experience nonetheless.

Online shopping is way more private, but it can be done with social elements.  I think though, online shoppers prefer shopping in disguise more than announcing what they want to buy to the world.  In brick and mortar stores, shoppers will only have to worry how couple friends or family members with them at the time would know what they want to buy from the get go or how unwisely a purchase they make on the spot, but online shoppers can unwisely allow the whole Facebook know what they have done at what online stores.  Perhaps, announcing to the whole world (i.e., the Internet) of what you have purchased or shopped for is not as pleasant as just having few people around you in a brick and mortar store know what you have purchased or shopped for, right?

What online stores lack can be covered with providing shoppers with extra unique information and great amount of testimonies.  Unique information such as product comparison charts can add more values to online shopping experience than otherwise.  Online testimonies such as product rating and comments from other online shoppers can help online shoppers make their decisions on purchasing whatever online.  You certainly can’t do something as reading countless product testimonies in brick and mortar stores as easy as online stores, but it can be done.  Nonetheless, I don’t see brick and mortar stores have yet installing high tech equipments to allow shoppers to experience something similar to how things go when shopping online.  Of course, they can provide mobile apps to allow brick and mortar stores’ shoppers to experience product rating and testimonies, but this might also require brick and mortar stores to garner certain credible online presences for shoppers to use their mobile apps.

Without further nitpicking the differences between brick and mortar stores and online stores and what are the advantages and disadvantages between the two retail universes have, let me make a bold theory on how the future of online stores might become.  I think, online stores will eventually consolidate into only few big online stores.  Online shoppers do not actually need to venture to different online stores since they can’t really feel that they’re actually sweating from their shopping walkabout of brick and mortar stores.  Online stores aren’t for sightseeing, but these stores are for finding the best deals there are.  With that in mind, I fear mediocre, mid size online stores won’t have a chance of offering as many great saving deals as how bigger online stores can.  I think eventually, only few biggest online stores will stick around, mediocre online stores die out, and unique mom and pop online stores barely survive but survive nonetheless for these might have the ability to offer unique local products that can be found nowhere else.

How about brick and mortar stores of the future?  It might be so obvious that only big online stores such as Amazon would be able to have huge and successful brick and mortar presences.  My prediction for the future of brick and mortar stores will follow a similar pattern to how I’ve foolishly and boldly predicted the pattern of the future of online stores with a twist.  It’s that brick and mortar stores of certain attractive local hangouts and tourist destinations might end up to last with or without the need for a successful online presence.  To end my foolish predictions on retail universes, I have only to say that nobody knows the future, but one can instinctively project one’s thinking of the future of something; in this case of mine, it’s about the future of the retail universes.  (And I could be dead wrong!)

The Kindle Fire isn’t the Apple iPad

Please take heed of this specific warning:  This article wasn’t written by the founder of this blog (i.e., Vinh Nguyen).  This article had been submitted by a contributor, Olivia Lennox, and so the point of view, belief, and other values profess in this article might not be the same values that holds true.  If there are links within this article, please use to check to see if the link is indeed free of virus, trojan, and malware.  Also, you might want to use Google and other well known online resources to validate the contents of such links.  Enjoy!

Kindle Fire: Out of the Box

Image by Brian Sawyer via Flickr

The first five million or so customers now have their new Kindle Fire from Amazon. Over half of those have already played with their new gadget while the rest are being gift wrapped for Christmas. Will those people wish for an iPad instead?

Although people keep comparing them, the two are not really related enough to be an either/or purchase, but the price of the Kindle brings the tablet within the financial reach of most.

The Fire is going to set many people’s Christmas alight, but it’s what the computer doesn’t do that will disappoint so many.

Where’s the Fire’s Camera?

The recipient of your gift will want to know where the camera is. Sorry folks, there isn’t one. You might want to Skype with your new toy, but you will have to wait for the next model. The lack of a camera shouldn’t stop the purchase as everyone has a phone with a camera.

The iPad isn’t really set for camera work, either, though at least it has one. The megapixels are too low for good photography, but they will be enough to take some simple photographs if all you want to do is email them to friends or post on your favorite social media site.

All iPad owners will need a separate iPhone because holding your iPad to take shots will make you look foolish. Try imagining it: a camera that large.

Where’s the Microphone?

Looking for the mike? You won’t find one on the Kindle Fire. If you thought this could take over as your business tool, forget it. The option to take short voice notes or dictate an attachment to your essential email just won’t happen. You will still need to carry around your digital voice recorder. That’s another failing to go with the lack of Skype capability.

Where’s the Rest of the Screen?

You know as soon as you open the package that the screen is so much smaller on the Fire than on the iPad. If you use your calculator app you will find you have 21 square inches against the iPad’s more generous 45. That is less than half the viewing space, for the failing mathematicians out there.

It does give you a much smaller and more portable gadget. You can carry it anywhere and it will fit in a surprisingly high number of pockets, but this might make it the next best thieves’ target.

How the smaller screen will affect your game playing is down to your preferences, but those on public transport may prefer the smaller model. It will be interesting to see if Apple launches a 7 inch model like the Fire and the smaller Samsung or whether Amazon goes for a 10 inch screen first.

I Can’t Find My 3G

Like the Nook tablet, with the Fire you don’t get the option of 3G or, what the latest gadget people require, 4G. You will only be able to connect online via Wi-Fi with the Fire. This shouldn’t cause a problem in most stationary uses, but for those roaming in the back seat of an auto, the lack of 3G might prove costly. Wi-Fi has become free almost everywhere, so at least your 3G data costs will be low.

The Difference Is In the Price

It’s not really fair to compare the two toys/computers. While some will argue that the difference is in the availability of apps for the iPad, that bridge is closing fast. Soon that won’t even be a consideration.

Whichever model you choose, you will have to battle with the brand’s parent company who insists that you trade exclusively through them. That is Amazon’s selling point; everything is available at a click and for those replacing their Kindle reader with the Fire, as long as they aren’t outside in blazing sun, the experience may be improved.

The lack of GPS in the Fire shouldn’t be a deterrent, but the lack of gigabytes under the hood might be, so you will be forced to use Amazon’s cloud experience. (How long before they start charging for that, we wonder?)

The price difference will be the tightest call. At just $199, almost anyone can buy a Kindle Fire while the $500 to $650 required for an iPad might be a bigger stretch. Perhaps the answer is to stop seeing the Fire as an iPad competitor and buy a Samsung tablet (with better use of the screen, Android and apps) instead.

Olivia Lennox is a writer, bookworm, and gadget-obsessed ebook fiend. She loves digital books and the freebies made possible by paperless reading, but hasn’t quite been convinced to sell her paperback library just yet.

Please take heed of this specific warning:  This article wasn’t written by the founder of this blog (i.e., Vinh Nguyen).  This article had been submitted by a contributor, Olivia Lennox, and so the point of view, belief, and other values profess in this article might not be the same values that holds true.  If there are links within this article, please use to check to see if the link is indeed free of virus, trojan, and malware.  Also, you might want to use Google and other well known online resources to validate the contents of such links.  Enjoy!