An interesting opportunity from the current download ‘buy to own’ is ‘rent to read’. As libraries of works become permanently available why would you want to own digital books, which are hard to share and offer little other than convenience? Why not rent on demand? It doesn’t stop the consumer buying perpetual access, or a physical digital bundle; we merely question why you would buy a download that could be as obsolete as an 8 track in only a short time? The file could be read online with rich functionality, reference linking, multi media materials such as podcasts, videos and even games tied in. Imagine you want a quick read and log on via the mobile, you continue your read in a café via a laptop, then at a friends house via their PC and finally to bed with the physical book itself. The digital access control is not in the device but the centre making it friendlier.
If library can offer digital books for free, why buy them anyway? Now is that wise?
Emphasis added by me.
For me it's still wise to buy and own.
In another post he slams the Plastic Logic device this way:
Imagine carrying a tablet around with you with a screen 2.5 times larger than the Kindle, weighing two ounces more and a third of the Kindle's thickness. It will enable you to read your daily news digitally and is the latest ebook eink device to hit the market. Today many of us get our news feeds free direct to our mobiles and PCs, but that obviously is not seen as the answer for these technology people. Some may say that it is technology for the sake of technology.
Emphasis added by me.
I'd say his argument for rental over ownership is "technology for the sake of technology" too.
How many disasters must we witness? New Orleans after Katrina. Houston after Gustav. And even small personal ones: the missed train, the delayed or canceled flight.
In the case of Big Disaster, no electricity. No WiFi. Sometimes not even cellphone service. Oops. There goes the rental model. Whereas, with ownership, advance notice of possible disaster makes a person fully charge their devices. And with eBook ownership, those books are right there to be read on-demand.
In the case of small disaster, there is no guarantee of wireless access. Will the plaint of the future be, "I wish I had downloaded it!"?
And, oh, notice in the first quote he mentions a physical book. What, a rental? (No, I won't allow you the wiggle room of a library loan. That is premised on "infinite libraries," having every book a person wants. In New York City, the NYPL doesn't have every book I want.)