There’s a certain something about looking up a physical copy of an album or DVD in a shelf in one’s living room that surpasses the digital library on a computer screen.
Vinyl sales in the UK last year went beyond three million, the highest since 1991. Whilst this amounts to a very small percentage of overall music sales, it is nevertheless a sign of some defiance against the digitalisation music age.
The ease of jumping from artist to artist whilst using streaming means the traditional album is dying.
When listening to a vinyl record, one tends to listen to an album in its entirety – who can be bothered to get up and manually move the needle, after all? Yet the process of selecting an album, pulling the LP out of its sleeve, placing it on the turntable and delicately setting the needle on to the opening track to be greeted by the heartwarming crackle is an experience in itself.
Another advantage of owning records is the ability to fully appreciate the artwork of albums. Often album artwork becomes as iconic as the music itself: the pulses of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures or Andy Warhol’s banana art on The Velvet Underground’s debut album. Looking at album covers whilst listening to the music fully completes the experience of an album.
It is not just music where physical ownership is making some form of a comeback. In the last couple of years, Waterstones have stopped selling e-readers in response to an increase in physical book sales.
As convenient as e-readers can be – the ability to store thousands of books on a single device is quite incredible – they can never reflect the feel of a real book. Everything from the smell to its place on one’s bookshelf brings something that an e-reader can never encapsulate.
For collectors, owning box sets will always surpass using sites such as Netflix. Titles’ positions on streaming sites are rather precarious – they may be available for viewing one day and not the next. Moreover, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are aware of their need to develop their own programmes to keep customers paying £5.99 monthly.
Both Netflix and Amazon have produced stellar exclusive titles such as House of Cards and The Man in the High Castle respectively. However, seldom do films that have just been released on DVD appear on these sites. Usually one would have to wait a couple of years before their site acquired the title, if they do at all.
As a 20-year-old student, one might find that such a commitment to vinyl, physical books and DVDs surprising (or simply a case of pseudo-hipster behaviour), yet there are real benefits to enjoying music, literature and films on something other than a computer.
Jack Cannon is from Dundee. He is currently in his third year at St Andrews University where he is studying Classical Studies