I can tell you the exact moment when I changed from DVD to download only. It went something like this.
‘Daddy Daddy, look what I can do.’
‘What’s that sweetheart?’
‘If I press this blue button the DVD player opens.’
Game over for the DVDs there and then. What followed wasn’t pretty. Sticky fingers, bent disks, crayon, felt tip and glitter. None of which is conducive to good play back. But worst of all, putting the disks back in the wrong boxes.
It took about of week of this for me to figure out that it just wasn’t financially practical to buy the Toy Story trilogy on a weekly basis, so I embraced download. Now while there are some negatives issues for downloads (more on this in a minute) there is one overriding argument that trumps everything – there is nothing for the little people to get their sticky little hands on. Pure genius, simple as that – ask any parent. So I now sit slightly smugly on the couch when watching Woody and Buzz for the gazillionth time, safe in the knowledge they are safely ensconced inside an old 2006 Mac Book Pro, placed well out of the reach of little hands.
So this is good? Well, yes and no. Honestly, I miss my DVDs. You see I have always liked collecting movies, starting with videos and then DVDs. I love the way they look on the shelf and the surprises I got when I came across a forgotten flick or two. I take great comfort in knowing they are there and acting as my own personal video store that I didn’t need to travel to or get dressed to visit. They looked after me when I was feeling sick, a bit blue or just in need of a quick pick me up. Each one was carefully chosen and had earned their right to sit on the shelves. I loved the process of buying them; whether this was carefully choosing one in a shop or excitedly discovering a lost gem in car boot sale. They were my friends, who occasionally went to visit other shelves, but always came home.
Downloads have none of this. They are arguably more convenient, cheaper and will probably last longer, but I feel strangely detached from my iTunes library. I miss titling my head to one side and scanning along a shelf before stopping at an old friend, picking them up and reading the synopsis on the back. Scrolling on a screen doesn’t quite have the same affect, no matter how good the fancy graphics are that Apple come up to with in an attempt to replicate DVDs on a shelf. Clicking on ‘add to basket’ or ‘purchase this movie’ doesn’t have the same satisfying feeling as crossing someone’s palms with your own hard earned silver.
But it is this point that brings me to the single biggest benefit for me in regard to download, which is the price. After years of overpricing the iTunes UK site has suddenly become quite competitive and I am often able to pick up a new film for 9.99 (GBP), which when you compare this to a new DVD here in Australia which costs $28 (around 18 GBP, so almost twice the price), the numbers speak for themselves. Download wins by a long way.
So, since that fateful button pushing day, I have not purchased a single new DVD, but I continue to mourn the lack of growth in my DVD library. While it is not goodbye, I am concerned about the future. Having cross platform collections is notoriously difficult and often ends with one platform forgotten. If you need proof then just ask the VHS’s in the attic. Downloads are cheaper, easier to access and not able to be thrown across the room by an all consuming temper tantrum from a two year old. But they lack the tactile attachment of their DVD cousins, but unless Apple is able to do something very clever with touchscreens, maybe we just have to accept that we can look but not touch.
If you liked this, then try My Cinematic History: The Origin Story.