Whether we’re downloading the latest New York Times Bestseller to our e-readers or streaming the latest blockbuster to our TV sets, we’re indulging in a wonderful new system of content delivery. Thanks to this system, the content we want is only ever a click away. We have instant access to the entertainment we crave, but there’s a cost:
The most significant casualty in this emerging system is our good ol’ fashioned “pride of ownership.”
Brands and retailers left and right are retooling their business models to allow for more and better digital distribution options than ever before, providing us with easy and affordable access to all sorts of media. At face value, it’s an ideal system, as it means less time spent at the retail stores and more time spent in the comfort or our own homes; less time searching for entertainment, more time enjoying it.
We delight in the convenience of it all, but we tend to forget that such convenience is a double-edged sword.
As of now, the hard copies of our media (our music, our books, our movies, etc.) might as well be on the endangered species list. To be fair though, there are a number of reasons for this. For example, why pay 10 to 15 bucks on a CD when we can stream all the same songs online for free? Likewise, why pay for an individual movie rental when we can subscribe to a huge catalog of films and stream them at our convenience from the web? And books? Well, why buy the printed version when the download is cheaper?
Before we know it (and perhaps sooner than we realize), hard copies will be gone entirely, and we’ll have only our “playlists” and “queues” to keep us occupied.
Will that be enough? Will we miss having our movies, music, and books line our living room shelves? In years to come, will we really take as much pride in our digital media as we once did in our physical media?
Think of it this way: it’s easy to take pride in a collection of 100 or more books, albums, or movies — especially when they’re on your shelf, waiting to be enjoyed. It’s tougher to take pride in having a list of options in front of you and simply choosing the best one to read/listen to/watch.
But it’s a new era of consumer culture, and it’s inevitable for us to part ways with notions that belong in the previous era. As the trend toward digital distribution gains more and more support, pride of ownership, sadly, may prove to be one of those notions.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments!