RIP iTunes

images.jpgApple has unofficially announced that it is decommissioning their iTunes program. Word on the street is that this should have happened years ago: the iTunes concept of purchasing songs or albums is no longer relevant.

I remember when all this started. Napster was willing to give songs away for free and Apple’s concept of charging a reasonably small amount for each tune made sense. Other services attempted to grab the market, not by selling songs but by selling instances of listening to a song. I was probably unduly biased in favor of Apple but I thought this competing business plan was stupid.

Well, it might have improved with maturity but now I listen to all my tunes on Spotify Premium for a very reasonable monthly fee and the iTunes store is finally being shuttered.

I notice that there is a similar battle brewing between competing methods of making a buck off a book or magazine. Today most books are purchased, whether online or in a brick and mortar emporium, but there is also the public library model. The library practice is to allow a book (or magazine or nail gun) to be borrowed for a short time, occasionally requiring a small fee, and returned so that additional patrons may request it. Some digital book services work this way—selling the right to borrow an electronic version of the book.

With the problems publishers complain about and the increasingly higher prices of books, I wonder if we can  project a Spotify-type service for books: read any book at any time for just a low monthly fee: sort of Project Gutenberg For All.

Since I read a book and pass it on (or discard it), this business model doesn’t seem that different from the public library concept that has worked quite well for many many years. Besides, think of all the trees we would be saving, both in the books themselves and also in the bookcases we would no longer need in our homes.

What are your thoughts on this?

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