Jeremy Dylan doesn’t share my zeal for renting movies:
In a recent episode, August and Mazin presaged a dystopian future in which entertainment exists only in an ethereal online space and nobody owns anything. Apparently, we are marching inexorably towards this brave new world and any attempts to halt the approach would be futile.
I like owning things. I own The Philadelphia Story. I own all seven seasons of The West Wing. I own The Last Waltz. I paid a one-off charge at a store at some point, and in exchange, I own these things. I can watch them as often as I feel like, whenever I feel like, in perpetuity, and it costs me nothing further. I don’t need to be connected to the internet to do so. And no one can take away my ability to watch it. If I come across someone who’s never seen The West Wing (seriously?), then I can lend them my copy. While they have it, I can’t watch it, which is only fair. If they get bitten by the Sorkin bug, they can trot off and buy their own copies, and enjoy the associated privileges I listed above.
Valid points, every one of them.
I think one reason DVDs (and Blu-rays) have been so successful is that they hit a sweet spot of being cheap enough and small enough that you can afford to keep an extensive collection in a normal-sized apartment. If, at two in the morning, you suddenly have a jones for the second season of 24, you can pull out the discs and start watching.
That is, as long as you’re at your apartment. If you’re in a hotel room in New York with your iPad, the ability to get that through streaming is much more appealing.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been travelling so much — or because I’m going through a general discardia phase — but I’m much happier to not own things. If a book is the same price in hardback or on Kindle, I’ll always take the Kindle edition.
With movies, yes, there’s the risk that I won’t be able to watch what I want when I want it. But that’s my argument for more pervasive licensing and rights-packaging. With HBO Go, I can watch that episode where David gets carjacked and confirm that oh shit, yeah, that was insane. It’s like having all the DVDs to all the seasons of all the HBO shows, and I’m happy to pay for access to it.
But that’s me. I rarely re-watch movies. I rarely re-read books. For folks wired the other way — which I suspect is a sizable majority — ownership of atoms makes a lot of sense. I think we’ll continue to have ways to buy physical books and movies. It’s not either/or.