Material vs. Digital

Yesterday when I went out to the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, I was silently in my mind enjoying the fact that there would be a big Virgin Megastore in the mall. Cool albums, books etc. to skim through and buy.

When I got there, I started noticing a certain behavior in me getting stronger that I’ve lately also seen with my oh so wonderful joy of “shopping paperbacks in the airport” experience.

Every time I found something that I wanted to buy, some album or a great book, same thought came to my mind: “I can get this online, with same amount or less money, and can thus take it with me wherever I go. I don’t need to buy this, concrete thing”. 

I can have my books synced with my iPad, Samsung Galaxy and my Macbook Pro (and what might come after these later) in a much more agile form; my songs in my laptop, iPod, cell or just in the cloud in Spotify. And I don’t have add extra weight when traveling.

I think it goes without saying that my buying experience is slightly ruined. I still love going to the bookstore and feel the books in my hands, but most of the time, I don’t feel like buying them in paper anymore. And also, if for example a brick for a book, “Steve Jobs”, is something like 40 € in paper and 13 $ in an Amazon Kindle version which I can take with me wherever I go, I don’t have to ponder a long which one I’ll take.

But this makes me wonder:

  • In the future, if my ‘disease’ spreads wider, how’s it going to be with Christmas presents? Dull e-gift cards for everyone, or what? Everyone just sitting with their mobile devices around the Christmas tree, downloading their gifts?
  • What happens to the satisfying shopping experience in a real store?
  • And most importantly: What happens to the “I bought this record/book back in 2011” thing when you have them all in digital form? With Kindle, I can’t anymore do the thing I do with my paper books: write the time and place where I bought them to the first page.
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One thought on “Material vs. Digital

  1. I have never had this problem here. “Not available for download in your region.” is the common mantra of all things digital here…

    If it’s not available in concrete form and they refuse to sell me the digital form, what are my options? In my mind, a refusal to sell something is akin to encouragement to steal. Almost all of the digital material I have is a reminder to me that if you are going to pretend to be in a market, you should meet the needs of your customers…

    What happens to that satisfying experience of shopping for concrete things? It just disappears. I download a lot of digital music (legally purchased!) and what happens is that it just disappears into the swampy morass of my music drive, sometimes never to be seen or heard from again. It would take me years to listen just once to every song I have. In years past, you would purchase a disc (vinyl or plastic) and listen to it until you couldn’t stand it any more. Then purchase something new. Now I purchase things and, because there is no physical reminder, forget it’s even there.

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