Since I’ve been packing to move house, I’ve been startled to realise just how much my media consumption has changed over the last few years.
I’ve rediscovered boxes of video tapes with things I once recorded off the TV, or cassettes with songs from the radio. I’ve found copies of the same film on video and DVD, or been reminded of things I watched over and over years ago, when we still had a video player in the house.
It might be a morbid thing to consider, but I read an interesting article recently about what happens to your iTunes library or your Kindle books when you die. The main thing that struck me was the observation that we’re moving away from a culture of ownership and instead entering into subscription services, whether we realise it or not.
Just because you’ve paid to download a copy of a novel or an album, doesn’t mean you retain the rights to keep it, or pass it on to someone else. You’re only licensing it.
When I was younger I hoarded books and films and music, steadily growing my collection whenever I could. Now much of it stands untouched, taking up precious space. But it seems a shame to throw it away, even if some of the technology is outdated.
Of course, books are slightly different. Most readers are passionate about owning their favourite novels and holding them in their hands. They still want to maintain a library, rather than accessing everything electronically.
I’ve always enjoyed surrounding myself with the things I love, the stories I find meaningful. They reflect who I am and what my interests are. Glancing at the shelf and catching sight of a particular book or film can bring the story rushing back, giving me a fierce desire to read or watch it again. If everything is out of sight, it’s out of mind too.
It makes me a little sad to remember formerly favourite films that have slipped from my memory, unwatched for years. They’re just as good as they ever were, but buying the video as a teenager wasn’t enough to make them a permanent part of my collection. And it seems like a scam to repurchase each film every time another medium becomes popular.
But my (not so) little library will always be a feature in my home, and at least packing has allowed me to make a list of a few old favourites that I’m going to rediscover over the winter.