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To Have and to Hold

12 May, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold

I've just completed the arduous process of converting 10 years of Arnold family home videos to DVD. I noticed two behavioral traits that, if they apply to others as well, could have an impact on the future of packaged media.

1) I bought a box of plastic Amaray keepcases and software so I could print up my own box art. I took it all back the next day, after deciding it made more sense to store my DVDs in slim jewel cases.

2) I had no qualms whatsoever in erasing the finished video from my hard drive, as long as I had four copies (yes, I tend to overdo things) on DVD — two locked away in a safe, one for everyday use and the fourth for my parents.

Let's interpret my actions — again, under the presumption that I am a typical guy who would fall under the “active DVD consumer” description, meaning that I buy DVDs and watch something on DVD virtually every night.

First of all, we're all running out of space. There's simply too much stuff in our homes. The more DVDs we get, the less precious they become. I used to love the keepcases. Now, I wish all DVDs were sold in slim jewel boxes. Even my CDs are beginning to look bulky in their standard jewels.

It could be argued that storing movies on some far-off file server, for instant access at the click of a computer button, would solve my storage issues and, at the same time, mean the death of packaged media, but let's not be too quick to draw conclusions.

The concept of having something to stash away is still compelling, as evidenced by my four-DVD policy and disdain for storing irreplaceable family movies on my computer, even though I could easily, and cheaply, buy hard-drive space.

The upshot: I desperately want to cut back on clutter, but I don't want my precious media to be stocked away where I can't see it, feel it or touch it. I want something tangible, something lasting.

So at least for now, I don't see packaged media ever going away completely. Consumers are certainly going to be more selective, and the actual form of packaged media will likely shrink — although how much it will shrink (DVDs the size of a penny?) is anyone's guess.

I just don't think it will shrink away completely.

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