Elephants, Unicorns and Other Ancient Beasts:
So this week we’re taking on the elephant in the room and discussing the issue of keeping hard copies in a digital age. Now I know there are many advantages to going digital - digital copies are lightweight, easily transportable and take up negligible storage space when compared to hard copies (be they books, blu-rays/DVDs or CDs/LPs) so are easier to keep in high numbers in our homes, especially for those of us who live in smaller urban spaces, or share our homes with multiple friends, flatmates or family members. And don’t get me wrong, there is a certain appeal to travelling light and living in an uncluttered, airy home.
Marie Kondo and similar advocates got us thinking about what possessions we truly needed to be happy and the stir-crazy state we were left in post lock-down left many of us gasping for air, ready to hurl all but our skin suits to the wind. But now that we have dealt with the initial shock to our systems, passed through the various lockdowns, re-emerged into the world and been given the opportunity to overcome the hysteria and claustrophobia that the sudden change of lifestyle and our forced retreat inside our plaster walls caused us, perhaps it’s time to revisit the issue - does living sparsely, with only digital copies, really spark joy? Is holding on to all our hard copies the answer or can the most joy be found from treading the middle path and choosing to incorporate both digital and hard-copy elements into our lives and living spaces?
Like Prince Gautama, I’m going to suggest that I believe the path to joy is in fact the middle way, and that neither the path to self-gratification/self-indulgence (in this context, purchasing every hard-copy you could possibly desire until you are eventually crushed beneath the weight of your earthly possessions as the piles and shelves finally give way) nor self-mortification/self-denial (surrounding yourself with only digital everything - which is great until the power’s down, your digital photo albums all become corrupted, you discover all those songs you once paid for individually on iTunes will one day no longer be supported and you’ll still have to contribute to an Apple music or Spotify membership in order to listen to all those songs you love, or you you have 4 or 5 subscriptions to digital TV suppliers and there’s still nothing to watch) is the answer.
Wouldn’t it be better to invest once in a selection of your favourite films on dvd/blu-ray (which can often be picked up cheaply both new and second-hand) than have to pay per view or invest in expensive digital copies? Isn’t it nicer to experience albums as complete audio experiences (as the musicians who created them intended them to be) on CD/LP than have songs reach you in a sometimes jarring cacophony on random/shuffle playlists (as we often have our digital music platforms set to)? Kindles are great for reading on public transport and taking on holiday but snuggled up enjoying books on an evening at home does on-screen reading really compare to the tactility and warmth of turning actual pages or the enticing oaken smell of the printed page? Is flicking through on-screen pages of a beautiful gardening, design, architectural, photography or art book for instance, really as good as enjoying a coffee table book in all it’s large-scale, glossy or matte splendour? I’d argue technology is great and digital formats have extended our access, portability and variety of content but if we’re honest with ourselves as much as we may wish for convenience’s sake that they could, digital options still can’t entirely replace the slow-living immersion and experiences of our hard-copies of old.
So the message people is that havens like Dorothy Dickens are still very much needed and we’re here to keep you supplied and connected with all your hard-copy needs. Happy Reading from the DD Team!
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