I have always generally stuck to buying CDs for music except for some recent digital download-only EPs and singles but the other day I was made to wonder why.
I’d been looking at an album that was available as a normal version and a deluxe version. The deluxe had just three more songs but cost £17 as opposed to the normal version that had dropped to £5. I thought I’d just go without the extra tracks and bought the £5 one. All fine except that I’d noticed that there was a link to “download the MP3 version for £4.99” on the deluxe edition yet I’d still bought the physical CD of the normal version for 1p more. At first I was fine with this but then began to feel confused, I felt a bit daft for buying the CD when by downloading I could have had more for the same money – was the plastic and paper really worth it?
I could have cancelled the CD, downloaded the MP3 but I still didn’t. I’m still at the stage where I only feel that I have a copy of the music (or book) that I can keep forever if I have a physical copy – for me it’s not even about the cover artwork or the booklet as I hardly ever look at these. But this experience, the doubt, showed me that even I’m accepting that the future of media is becoming more digital, increasingly virtual, that with digital booklets having the actual CD is less important than the music itself.
In many ways it’s better this way, content you effectively license can be accessed anywhere you can log into your account, a copy can be downloaded to your computer if necessary and even burned onto an old-fashioned disk. Should the worst happen you don’t lose your collection. It’s also more convenient to buy and store.
I’m still not so sold on ebooks though, I still like a paper book I can safely read in the bath but I suppose it’s only a matter of time before the waterproof Kindle Touch.
And as for my MP3 quandary, it turned out that the download wasn’t even the deluxe version after all so the decision was entirely virtual, ironically.