I can purchase a hard drive more cheaply, so can I just download the eGranary onto it?

No, sorry. Legally, only the WiderNet Project has permission to make copies of the eGranary content. While the content of the eGranary Digital Library is essentially free, the prices above reflect the actual costs of purchasing, testing and troubleshooting, dealing with failed drives, preparing and handling hardware, as well as providing technical support and updates. We believe that all formats of the eGranary Digital Library represent a fantastic bargain, though the prices may change as we learn what it takes to make this effort self-sustaining. They may not be the least expensive drives, but we believe they still represent a good bargain. For a longer answer, please see here.