With literature it is a different case. The physical book is not inseparable from the text. With modern literature in particular the text is everything. The book form is merely the interface to the text. Paper and boards and printers ink. Typefaces, typesetting, margins, frontis and, end pieces. Similar in many respects to the much lamented album cover of analog, vinyl LPs. We get along without album covers these days, why can we not get along without printed books for literature? There is a conundrum here that bears examination.
The advent of the paperback novel - a cheap and less substantial format than the hardback - was widely expected to herald the death of the hardback but it didn't happen. What happened instead was that the paperback simply grew the audience for literature into a demographic previously untapped. Some enterprising music labels (Pickwick, Pye with their Golden Guinea line) in the sixties attempted to emulate the success of the paperback in broadening the market for music by producing cheaper versions of proven popular products but failed miserably because they misunderstood the market. They believed that the music was the important thing and so they produced versions of popular music by unknown artists and groups, not realising that the performance was a major factor in determining the popularity of the copied piece. As an aside, their catalogues of popular classical pieces where nobody cared overly whether it was the Vienna Philharmonic or the Portsmouth Sinfonia playing The William Tell Overture, did indeed increase the market for recorded classical music.
Why then is the book such a popular interface? With the digital texts of many major masterpieces of literature available to me via resources such as the Guttenburg project do I download so few and continue to buy so many novels in book format? I could cite being able to read, in bed, on the beach, in the bath. I could mention making margin notes, curling page corners (which I never do), being able to refer back to a finger stuck in a previous chapter. I could enthuse about the smell of books, the luxury of leather bindings. I could wax lyrical for hours about the sight of a shelf of book spines and dust jackets and the sheer luxury of pulling a beloved volume from a shelf and riffling through the pages. The answer, I feel, is all of these and more. What we have with the book as a carrier for literature is the ideal, perhaps the Platonic, vector. An interface that has, over the years become an intrinsic part of literature. It has, in the same way that the art establishment cemented the original as the only worthy version, established itself as inseparably part of literature. In the same way as the digital interface for watches could not supplant the analog drawn from the sundial, no matter how much more accurate, efficient, or accessible so the printed book has become one with literature. The book is literature and until the advent of on-demand publishing at home the widespread piracay of literature is pretty much inconceivable.
At bottom we are looking at two forms - literature and fine art - where the de-materialisation (the abandonment of physical vectors) of the product substantially damages the appreciation of the art contained. With music, video, and broadcast this is not the case.
We have, we believe, established the following points so far in our discussion of the piracy of largely digital assets, and copyright: there exists a "will to pirate" such assets which, we have asserted, is founded in an unfair contract of "sale"; that some similar works of authorship have resisted this "will to pirate" by making a total dematerialisation unattractive whereas the publishers of those most regularly and readily pirated forms have connived at the opposite effect (see note 1).