I note that Libby Purves argued in a recent Times article that the ‘age of free-ness must end’. Her views tie in remarkably closely with mine, only I have to say that you’d have heard them first reading this blog. There is one additional argument she makes that I like: it is as she says the young who are most reluctant to pay for content, but they are the same kids who want to work in the media or the arts, and they’ll find there’s not much paid-for activity there. Or (and she doesn’t make this point) they may want to be an academic, but find that knowledge is less rigorous and literally cheaper, or a publisher, and find that there’s no such item as a book or even an e-book. They may all of them ‘change their minds – at least when they start looking for a job’.
One other thought.
Our minds are a knowledge store and in our student years that’s enough, but there’s a time a few years later when we like to put down waymarkers (copies of the books we read) and like to have hard evidence on our shelves of all that we’ve absorbed, or indeed might like to absorb. I’ve been wondering if that process would apply to the current student generation, and my hunch is that it will. In this case even e-books aren’t enough, it has to be the real thing, and that in the aftermath of all the e-book and digital talk at the Frankfurt Book Fair is a relief.