Life through the eyes of a gun-loving, redneck rivethead from the country trying to live the libertarian dream in the not-so-big city.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Physical Media Is Dead. Long Live Physical Media.

Alan had a recent post doling out the smackdown to a young purveyor of faux wisdom.  I started what I thought would be a brief a comment, but as it got longer, I decided it really belonged over here on the blog.

I love my gadgets and computers, but I can relate to what Sara Barbour was putting down on some level.  I still prefer CDs to downloads, mostly for the artwork and liner notes, but also for backup purposes.  My ripped and encoded files tend to get more play than my CDs anymore, but I would wager that anyone who lost his download-only music collection without a backup would be as devastated as someone that had a physical collection stolen.

I was never really interested in books for more than the purpose of reading them, so most collectable aspects of a book are largely wasted on me.  The physical medium, however, will certainly be more reliable if an EMP renders the ebook-reader useless or a revoked DRM key removes its content.  Furthermore, you can't really pass a treasured volume down the generations on an ebook-reader, if the file is DRM locked.  The ebook certainly does beat out physical media from a perspective of immediate utility and free ebooks and audiobooks are available which never hurts.  I'd rather slide one ebook-reader full of books in my backpack on a trip than haul around the extra weight of the physical media.  Since I don't often read one of the books I take on a trip, let alone all of them, I prefer to use a smartphone based ebook-reader and carry no extra weight.

Is the over-educated farmer's apprentice exceeding her daily allowance of smug emissions?  It's very likely, but there are good reasons to keep traditional print books around far beyond my expected lifetime.  I don't count nostalgia as one of them myself, and I don't expect to be turning my shotgun on any ebook-readers in the foreseeable future, unless a benefactor wants to sponsor an art project, or I happen to learn that the device was sent back in time by SkyNet to kill us all.


  1. Hear hear. I recognize the utility and ease provided by electronic-only media, especially when it comes to space and mass constraints, but for the time being, I will continue to purchase my data in "hardcopy" forms - DVDs, CDs, and bound books. The latter two I can arguably rip if I really want them on my computer (where and when legal, of course), and the latter... well, I just deal with it :). Given how DRM-locked most pay-to-play ebooks are, though, it surely would be nice if publishing houses would offer you free, or at least significantly discounted, digital copies if you buy the hardcopy...

    As for the "why", the primary reason is that I like backups, but the secondary is that both CD/DVDs and books are inherently more stable than computer drives. Both of those will eventually decay, to be sure, but so does everything :).

  2. I lost some music I had as download only from (before Cloud Player/Storage), so I can relate to that part. I didn't lose much, and I probably paid for little of it (free music from Amazon) but I spent several hours testing hard drive recovery tools trying to get it back.


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