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Published on January 7th, 2010 | by travors

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The evolution of entertainment media

It occurred to me a few weeks ago, just how much I’ve changed the way I collect and store entertainment media. Eventually I put it down to 3 factors:

1. The reduction in the cost of hard drives has had a huge impact, making it possible to store an entire music (or movie) collection on one hard drive, and all for the cost of 5 or 6 CDs.
2. The cost. The price of a digital download is generally cheaper then buying a cd or dvd.
3. The convenience. I can download an album in 5 minutes, as opposed to a trip to the city centre to visit a music shop. Also, the storage convenience: 300 CD albums take up a lot of room, 300 mp3 albums need just one iPod.

Looking back only three years ago, I would have added to my CD collection at least every few weeks, now my entire collection has been ripped to mp3 and stored on an external hard drive. I can copy my favourite tracks to my iPhone and listen to them whenever I like, including in my car, with help from my precious FM transmitter. Now if I buy a new album, it’s always an mp3 download.

guinness & ebook reader

It’s probably not even worth mentioning digital photos, but really it wasn’t so long ago (if you’re an old fart like me anyway) when we stored these, on paper, in physical albums.

Likewise my movies are downloaded, streamed or ripped and stored on a multimedia drive connected to my TV. My DVD collection hasn’t grown in a long time, but I’ve just upgraded to a 1 terabyte multimedia player, which can also stream internet video direct to my TV.

My most recent jump from “old media” has been with electronic books. The evolution of e-paper technology has made reading text on an electronic device, just as comfortable on the eyes as reading a book or newspaper. If you’ve used a computer for any length of time, you probably know how uncomfortable it is to read from a backlit screen; e-paper works just like normal paper, so no migraine inducing eye strain here. The first time you see e-paper at work it’s fascinating, it looks just like a normal paper page of text (albeit with a slightly darker background), and appears strangely tactile, yet with the press of a button it’s wiped and the next page appears.

When it came to books though, convenience and price just wasn’t enough to tempt me to ditch my beloved paperback. I really like my books, the smell, the feel, the look of them sitting on a book shelf. In the end though it was a Stephen Fry quote (of all people), who persuaded me to give them a try, he said:
“You don’t throw away your books when you buy a computer. You keep both. The beauty of living in the present day is you don’t abandon the past. The past co-exists.”

Buying a Sony PRS 505 ebook reader has turned out to be one of my best buys in years. I love the thing. I haven’t read so much since I was a teenager; the convenience of my ebook reader has given me back my passion for books. Here are some of the advantages I’ve discovered:

  • It sits flat on a table (unlike a book which keeps trying to close itself), so you can eat or drink while reading.
  • One charge lasts a long time; 6,000 page turns on my device. I used it for 2 months before it needed it’s first recharge.
  • You can store a huge amount of books, mine holds 160 but there’s also the option of adding extra memory. Going on holiday? No need to weigh your bag down with holiday reading.
  • Pop it in your pocket or bag and bring it anywhere. A 1,000+ page book is no longer a hassle to lug around.
  • Download adobe files (.pdf files) from the internet and now you can read them on an eye friendly screen.

I still buy books, but now I keep my money and bookshelf space for favoured books, beautiful collections and classics.

How have technology advancements influenced how you collect entertainment, if at all?

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About the Author

Dan Walsh is a musician, artist, nerd and cubicle dweller from Dublin, Ireland. In early 2008 Dan started the webcomic GarfieldMinusGarfield.net which went on to become one of the most celebrated blogs of 2008. It has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Rolling Stone Magazine, The Washington Post & The New Yorker. He received a book deal with Ballantine Books and Garfield Minus Garfield the book was released in late 2008. His personal blog is travors.com.



6 Responses to The evolution of entertainment media

  1. Keleher says:

    How much is that Sony e-book going for Travors ? Is it better than a Kindle ?
    The real pint looks good 😉

  2. Ruth Crean says:

    Over the past 8 months or so I’ve developed an audiobook addiction. At the begining when I had to go to the library and get cds/tapes and lug them home it looked like it was just going to be a brief but enjoyable fling. But I’ve started getting them online and putting them onto my mp3 player. I’ve listened to loads of books this year, far more than I would have been able to read. Just recently I got the whole Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series to listen. It’s a mammoth collection that now lives happily on my computer!

  3. travors says:

    @ Keleher I bought mine for €220 in Waterstones in the Jervis center. I think they stock a new model now, which costs more but is touchscreen.

    @Ruth I like the idea of audio books when on the move, but I rarely travel for long enough to warrant sticking one on.

  4. Keleher says:

    Thanks Travors, I used to go into Waterstones between Grafton and Kildare Streets. That costs a bit, how about the books, cost same as print version ? Wondering where ye’d go online to purchase as well, thanks.

  5. travors says:

    @Keleher You get 100s for free on a cd-rom when you buy the reader. And most book retailers sell digital books from their websites. Prices range but are usually cheaper then the print versions.
    By the way I won’t be going digital with my pints any time soon 😉

  6. ruth crean says:

    I have my own craft business so I spend hours and hours a week sewing or cutting etc. a book makes a little bit more exciting. A bad narrator can really kill a book though. I did love that the guy who did the Lord of The Rings sang all the songs in different voices, very cute!!

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