This morning I was having a chat with Steve from Pulp Fiction and the subject of stuff came up (tangible goods vs. digital books). Unsurprisingly ebooks aren’t exactly good for his business but it seems we’re at least in accord about many things surrounding the topic.

Thinking about it in terms of linear vs. random access really gave me some perspective on the matter. I enjoy books but they fall into the two previously mentioned categories.

On the one hand there’s linear books like novels. They are experienced page by page and as such there’s no real reason the words need to be available as a whole at any one time. An eReader can take the place of a library of novels without a problem.

Magazines and reference books on the other hand just don’t work for that. My novels rarely end up “well thumbed” but I know my way around Da Uvver Book blindfolded. I’d rather have them as tangible things that can be strewn about and cross-referenced.2013-04-12 22.43.13

(It hadn’t crossed my mind until she mentioned it that Jenny could actually patch up my original copy of the book! I keep forgetting that she’s a conservator by trade…)

Similarly with music if it’s individual tracks I want random access. An entire album on the other hand (assuming it has been designed for it) can be a much better experience if dealt with in a linear fashion. For those sorts of things I adore vinyl records.

Regular readers will of course know of my aversion to CDs and DVDs. I loathe mass marketed clutter.

The thing being that I actually don’t hate possessions. I’d rather be a bit more minimalist, certainly, but I’m not actually against stuff. I don't like that mass marketed merchandise has cheapened our appreciation of the quality of tangibility.

The value of a film on DVD is not the disc, it’s the film. A vinyl record and its contents are one and the same on the other hand – playing back a recording of it isn’t the same.wazbag

A counter representing an Ork with the iron mask bionik and two six-shootas isn’t the same as an actual model of it. Certainly the rules will work the same but the overall atmosphere is diminished by it.

Tangible objects have plenty of value just like physical shops do. I just wish that value hadn’t been so watered down by unnecessary tat that doesn’t take advantage of its medium.

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