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Disappearing Act: Is Demise of CDs, DVDs a Good Thing?

Disappearing Act: Is Demise of CDs, DVDs a Good Thing?

Kirk Baird, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio

Alas, poor CDs and DVDs, we hardly knew ye.

After an all-too-brief relationship, your shiny-silver, coaster-size discs are being replaced by an invisible stream of numbers hidden away on some faceless hard drive.

Tangible is giving way to convenience.

And yes, there is something to be said for that.

It’s great to have access to most of your music collection while on a six-hour cross-country flight. And the ability to stream thousands of movies and TV shows through content providers like Netflix and without leaving the comfort of your living room or office is the bee’s knees, so to speak.

But does the evolution of the digital revolution, as we embrace mp3 and mp4 files, really mean the end of physical media?

The sales numbers, particularly for CDs, would strongly indicate yes.

In 2008, CD sales dropped almost 25 percent from the previous year, while album downloads was up nearly 34 percent from 2007, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Meanwhile, according to an article in Variety, sales of DVDs continue to decline, down 9 percent in 2008 from the year before; however, sales of Blu-ray discs, the superior successor to DVDs, grew to $750 million last year, or three times what it was in 2007.

But missing in all the decreasing sales percentages and dire pronouncements of physical media are the advantages to owning a physical copy of your favorite album or movie, like the ego-stroking self-satisfaction of showing off your CD and/or DVD library to others. Collecting the discs is akin to the theory that the more books you own, the better read you are.

But try that with two terabyte hard drives filled with mp3s and mp4s, and gauge the reaction of friends, family members, and neighbors. It’s just not the same. Hard drives packed with media files will never be as impressive, visually speaking, as owning the entire CD catalogs of Miles Davis and Bob Dylan, or the DVD box set of the uber-massive and uber-expensive United Artists 90th Anniversary Prestige Collection.

Next: And what about the extras that come with CDs and DVDs?