A word, and an acronym for you:
It's easy to digitize them. The reason people don't is because it is priced competitively with what it is worth, hence there is no large incentive to "pirate". CDs and DVDs are not worth $20-$80 apiece. They are worth about $3 and $8, IMO. Answering why books aren't being "pirated" cuts to the heart of the copy controllers argument.
Books do not have built in mandatory advertisements that you must read. You can freely choose any page you wish to read, or any chapter. Books don't force you to only read them under certain brands of lightbulbs. Books don't have builtin password and copy mechanisms that prevent you from sharing them with a friend, nor do they chop off your fingers or write nasty e-mails to email@example.com if you try to open them up. Lastly, books don't force you to sit and stare at a big red "FBI Warning" statement for 3 minutes before you can read it, nor do books enforce this every time you want to read them. And if you want to rip a book in two, throw away half of it, burn it, wrinkle the pages, or anything else you can. You can even quote a book - without being thrown in jail for it (wow!).
DVDs have all of these characteristics - mandatory advertisements, copy control mechanisms (DIVX is now dead, but it'll be back, trust me) like macrovision, or the inability to "fast forward" to the sections you want to watch, won't allow still-shots to be taken off the disk, etc. DVDs are consumer-hostile, DVD players, the media, and their manufacturers and supporters all believe that YOU are the enemy.
This might, possibly, theoretically, contribute to consumers not wanting to pay $40. It also isn't worth it -
Most people will watch that DVD once, maybe twice. Then it goes on the shelf and only dug out once in a blue moon or when company comes over. CDs are the same way - they bundle songs you don't want to listen to onto them, cost a small fortune, and while they do have superior audio quality almost all consumers do not have a system capable of that level of quality, nor do many have the funds or inclination to purchase a system with that level of quality. Even if they did, consumer electronics for audio is crap - they're made using low quality components, prone to noise / RF interference, and in some cases can catch on fire due to poor design (using reinforced carbon-paper for the "circuit boards") - and these are the $1000+ units!
The personal computer has all of the characteristics of a modern and high quality audio-visual system. It has extremely high visual resolution - 1600x1200, photo-realistic color, combined with state of the art 2D and 3D video cards with little noise problems. The industry is transitioning to LCD panels, assuring a fully digital video system with extremely high quality reproduction.The audio subsystem of most computers is better than can be found in almost all consumer-level audio offerings, capable of rendering CD-quality audio for low-wattage speakers and/or headphones.
This combines to form a system which is cheaper and higher quality than the offerings by the media cartels. In addition, internet access can realize the dream of instant entertainment. With HDD capacity doubling every two years, it is only a matter of time before you can store DVD-quality films by the thousand on your system.
This adds up to a grave near and long-term threat to the RIAA, MPAA, and related media cartels. Their response has been to legislate, legislate, legislate, to cripple the technology and force people back to their legacy distribution network.
Why, as a consumer, should I have to put up with high priced, inferior quality, entertainment? The long and short of it is, I shouldn't.
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.