Physical vs. Digital: Do You Miss Having “Things?”

By: Bryan Faux

When was the last time you bought a physical CD or a novel in paperback?  If you’re like me, it was probably last week. My resistance to digital media is slowly eroding, and I’m learning to embrace the digital age.  I still enjoy reading books the old-fashioned way: feeling the weight of the book in my hand, turning the physical pages with a cup of coffee nearby.  Listening to music doesn’t feel like a complete experience until I’ve held the CD case in my hand, studied the cover art and thumbed through the liner notes.

I’m not arguing that physical is better than digital.  I just prefer to own physical, tangible media. Digital books, movies and music are certainly convenient and I’ve reluctantly begun using them more frequently.  Kindle and Google books are great for staying entertained on the bus, as are music streaming services like Spotify or Amazon Music.  I have built a digital movie and TV collection in order to watch stuff on the go and less space is needed to store physical versions.

Tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 (pictured), allow consumers to experience all kinds of media digitally.  Apps such as the Kindle or  Google Books  (pictured) offer consumers a digital reading experience. Photo by Bryan Faux.
Tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 (pictured), allow consumers to experience all kinds of media digitally. Apps such as the Kindle or Google Books (pictured) offer consumers a digital reading experience. Photo by Bryan Faux.

In an era where everything from groceries to razors can be bought online, it is inevitable that some physical media will disappear from retail stores.  If you walk into Best Buy, the CD section is a fraction of the size it once was.  This would concern me more if I couldn’t buy physical CDs from the Internet.  My hope is that physical media is never eliminated entirely.  I want CDs, mp3s, Kindles, books, Blu-rays and Netflix to live in harmony.  Physical and digital media each have their pros and cons, but I don’t think we’ve reached the point where one should take over as the only way consumers can enjoy media content. Perhaps 20 years from now people will be accustomed to digital media, but I’m convinced I’ll still long to turn the pages of a proper book rather than run a finger across a tablet screen.

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