If you ever bought an ebook from Microsoft, you better give it a good read quick — they’re being deleted.
Welcome to the dark side of the digital age.
In Gizmodo’s story “Ebooks purchased from Microsoft will be deleted this month because you don’t really own anything anymore,” writer Matt Novak tells us: “Microsoft announced in April that it would stop selling ebooks and that any books the company already sold would stop working in early July because the DRM servers were being shut off. Yes, you read that correctly. Those books that you ‘bought’ are going to disappear. Even the ‘free’ books that you downloaded through Microsoft will be deleted.”
That’s why I refuse to dive head first into having digital-only libraries of anything. Call me old school, but when I spend my money on something, I want it to be mine. The seller shouldn’t be able to take my money and then at some point take away the product. Knowing that’s a risk, I’ve invested little — and I do mean little — into owning ebooks, and those I do “own” were bought with discounts.
That goes for movies and video games, too. When I buy a movie that’s packaged with a digital version, I’ll jump through the hoops and add it to my library. But ask me to buy that digital version outright, and it better come with a deep, deep discount.
Panic set in earlier this year when movie service UltraViolet emailed to inform me it was shutting down July 31, and I needed to link my account with another retailer so I wouldn’t lose my movies.
Sony in March nixed PlayStation Plus and Store support for the Playstation 3 and PS Vita. If it wasn’t for the discs I own, my PlayStation 3 would be a paperweight like my PSP Go, a digital-only, portable PlayStation system and predecessor to the Vita. Fortunately, the Vita uses cartridges, so it’s still functional.
Obviously, I’m a technophile. I love technology and I love the convenience of carrying more information in my back pocket than most libraries had access to through 1999. I love the ease and access streaming services provide (if we could see the digital streams coming into my home, it would look like the Mississippi River), but “digital only” anything isn’t an investment. It’s a risk, even when it’s free.
I’ve seen digital archives of newspaper websites vanish as they switched service providers or upgraded to new internet standards. If not for their print versions, years of information would have been lost forever — like it was in March when MySpace botched a server migration and lost any photos, videos and audio files users uploaded before 2016. So much for any birth or marriage announcements there.
It just goes to show that entrusting information to social media is folly, no matter how popular the platform. Vine, a Twitter video service, amassed 200 million users before it was shut down in 2017. Google Plus met its end April 2. And dare I mention Friendster, shut down in 2018.
Sure, it’s free to post birth and wedding announcements on Facebook or through digital news sites, but your children and your children’s children may never see them because technology will change or those sites will go down. This is why print (newspapers and books) and other tangible forms of media storage (DVDs, Blu-Rays and such) are so important — they have value far beyond the few dollars you spend on them. And they’re yours to keep. Forever.