Digital vs Physical Media

How I’ve decided to consume media and support creators

Last summer, City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty was on sale for something like two bucks for Kindle. I had heard good things about the book, so I picked it up and eventually got around to reading it. Not only did I love it, but it ended on a hell of a last sentence. I was all in for book two in the trilogy, Kingdom of Copper.

The covers of these books are as gorgeous as the words inside, so I wanted to get the hardcover when book two came out. I searched for it through Powell’s books, and luckiest of lucky days, they had a used hardcover of the first book too. So I preordered book two and ordered book one. Again. In a different format. 

A lot of avid readers buy books they love in different formats, especially if they come out in special editions or they’ve shredded their copy from over-love. I don’t usually buy multiple physical editions of books, but I do buy ebooks for cheap or borrow books and ebooks from the local library then, if I love them, buy my own copy. If I love a book this much, I try to buy the prettiest edition I can. I don’t do it constantly, but I’ve got maybe a half-dozen books on my shelves that entered my life as electronic or borrowed copies. 

It’s Not Just Books

I also support musicians this way. I have a paid Spotify account that gets heavy, heavy usage. It’s playing ad-free music most of the workday and often in the evening (while I’m reading, of course). But Spotify royalties are laughably small for most artists, like fractions of pennies per listen.

When I hit on an artist I love, I visit their website and click on the merch page. Then I’ll buy the vinyl of whatever album I’m listening to and probably sign up for newsletters so I can buy the next one too. Records usually come with a digital download, and maybe a sticker or some other little gifty for supporting the artist. I’ve ordered special edition vinyl from Neko Case and St. Vincent this way. 

Maybe this is a “pay a little, and pay a lot” model, but I appreciate the time and work that go into creating something new, and if a book or a song gets its hooks in me, I’m happy to be reeled in. 

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