At what point do we stop investing in a format?
By Tyler Rousseau
My wife and I just bought an HDTV as a spoil-ourselves gift for our five year anniversary. Of course, being a type-A compulsive who needs to take things about one step further than necessary, I started looking for ways to extend our viewing pleasures.
While a Blu-ray player would seem to be the next logical step for most, I was a little wary.
I decided to head to the local electronics store and ask their opinions on the matter.
The employee recommended I buy the PS3, which comes with a Blu-ray. When I asked for any other suggestions, he was ‘hesitant.” While he clarified that there was nothing wrong with Blue-ray players (quality of video and sound was definitely superior to other options) he wasn’t positive that this format was the way to go when upgrading your media.
It was an interesting lecture (I hesitate to call it a conversation). Since his answer took well over 10 minutes, I am just going to try to highlight his argument in bullet points.
- If Blu-ray were to take off it probably would have done so by now. It took audio CDs less than ten years to overtake audio cassettes. One of Samsung’s Executives made a statement that he thinks Blu-ray will be gone in another five years. Not a very optimistic outlook.
- Netflix has taken off in a seriously big way and that is not really a good thing for DVDs or Blu-rays. It means people may be watching Blue-rays but they are actually buying less. In fact current economic conditions have led more people to renting nowadays.
- On the topic of increasing rentals, Redbox isn’t helping the situation.
- Blu-ray is already in a new format war…
- Downloadable movies are looking more and more like the next big format. Whether through your cable provider or the Internet, the instant gratification of streaming movies, in HD no less, is a tough thing to compete against for the casual viewer.
- While not quite ready, many TV manufacturers are looking to include wi-fi connections to their products.
- There was one other point; something about not having to buy things, possessions being fleeting and sticking it to the man or whatever, but I’ll just skip over that one.
While this did nothing in terms of getting a sale from me it was definitely food for thought.
The lecture got me thinking about the difficulties of introducing new medias into a library collection. It then got me thinking about old collections; more specifically, when to stop funding the collection.
Obviously, changes in formats are nothing new. Even in the relatively short time I have been in the profession, I’ve seen libraries stop buying audio-cassettes, CD-Roms and videotapes. More so, I’ve seen them stop purchasing the paper copies of publications in order to invest in the cheaper online versions.
And while I definitely applaud libraries who have decided to invest in Blu-rays I do wonder about how long this media has. While 5 years seems a little short to me, I would not be surprised to see it obsolete within 10.
By all means, let me hear it; at what point do we back out from a format?
By Tyler Rousseau