I'm trying to translate: "Why the book should cost double in digital format"; this simple surprise/disappointment that a digital format costs more than paperback version.

I came up with:

Cur liber in forma sua digitali altero tanto pretium habet quam in forma sua physicali

But I'm not satisfied with this. First, I'm not sure it is even grammatical (in particular the altero tanto + quam); Second, I'm not sure what a handy way to simply say something like "it costs more" (plus pretium habere does not seem spot-on). and Finally (and less important), what an appropriate translation would be to paperback/hardback versus digital e-book?


2 Answers 2

  • 'to cost more, less' is plūris, minōris (cōn)stāre, or vēnīre 'to be sold for' (conjugated as īre)
    • note that these two adjectives along with quantī, tantī are only used in the genitive; all other price expressions use the ablative: magnō, cārō, minimō, vīlī, trīgintā minīs; and sometimes adverbs: vīliter, vīlissimē, bene, cārius
  • 'twice as much' is bis tantō (in explicit comparisons) or bis tantum ('twice the amount, 2-to-1', with the comparison implicit)
  • an e-book is the straightforward liber ēlectrō̆nicus (vowel length depends on what you derive it from)
    • liber digitālis means 'finger-book'
  • a print book is liber (typīs) impressus, or cōdex... for 'book as a physical object, volume'

Hence: (Quid est) cūr liber ēlectrō̆nicus bis tantō cōnsta/et quam typīs impressus? (the subjunctive optional regardless of subordination, adds the wondering 'should' flavour).


An alternative way to say “twice as expensive” would be duplo carius, e.g.

Cur liber electronicus duplo carius constet quam exemplar tangibile, non intellego.

Another way to say “twice as much, half as much” is duplo pluris (the latter word being a genetive), dimidio minoris, etc. For example, Cicero writes (Ad Atticum 13, 29):

Tecta igitur ambulatiuncula addenda est; quam ut tantam faciamus quantam in Tusculano fecimus prope dimidio minoris constabit isto loco.

So a canopied walk has to be added; if I make it just as big as the one I made at Tusculum, it'll cost almost half as much as in that place.

So you could also say:

Quam ob causam, miror, liber electronicus duplo pluris constat tralaticio?

  • duplum as a word is a good mention, but I think you aren't using it correctly with plūris. It already means bis tantum 'twice as much', so when you join it with cārius or plūris you get 'twice as much more (expensive)'. Neither duplō nor bis tantō need any more specification with prices - you just say duplō ēmī/vēndidī, although duplō cārus = bis tam cārus 'twice as expensive* is fine.—Besides, I don't see duplō used with cōnstāre - I guess it should have been the gen. duplī like quantī, but in fact it's only found in legal actions: duplī āctiō, poena, damnum. Apr 24, 2022 at 12:13
  • Another questionable choice is the use of liber trālāticius - this is most readily interpretable as 'pass-down book, a book received as heritage or legacy'. In fact it might seem you're contrasting a new book with a second-hand one. In the sense 'usual, ordinary, typical' it contrasts with novus 'novel, unusual, atypical', but here you have a much more concrete distinction. To me, understanding your choice requires back-translating it into something like 'traditional book' and understanding the much more concrete and limited English use instead of the Latin. Apr 24, 2022 at 12:22
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    @Unbrutal_Russian It may seem that duplo pluris should logically mean 300%, but it is not so. See grammars such as this one, or e.g. the L&S entry for triplus, which translates triplo plus scortorum as "three times as many." Interestingly a similar quirk exists in English and is quite controversial. Apr 24, 2022 at 20:37
  • The interpretation of liber tralaticius as an inherited or second-hand book to me seems unsupported by the actual usage of this word. And maybe I'm old, but an ebook is (a) a novel thing and (b) cannot be "new" like a printed book. Apr 24, 2022 at 20:42
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    @Unbrutal_Russian that is difficult to argue with, because I did in this case use a dictionary, but, with all respect to Asconius, the word is quite frequently simply used like consuetus, usitatus, etc. Although it is true that the sense generally seems to be “the usual thing as opposed to an ad-hoc creation” and not “the usual thing as opposed to a newer thing.” May 2, 2022 at 19:24

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