Print vs. Digital
Kendra Kaiserman
4

My viewpoint on digital vs print media continually fluctuates.

Physical media (books, newspapers, magazines, CDs, Vinyl, etc) have a greater sentimental value largely fueled by nostalgia, and each age group is different in how the nostalgia affect is characterized. Depending on who you ask, a different answer will ensue based on the “norm” of what that individual had, at the time, experienced and eventually grew accustomed to. My grandmother refuses to read digital media — books and magazines have been produced her entire life; e-readers and iPads are simply too unfamiliar and unpredictable in the eyes of someone who has developed the understanding of reading material on paper. The same concept applies to music as well: music purists (and hipsters) argue that vinyl possesses the greatest quality of sound despite thorough research proving otherwise.

Purists argue that physical media creates a certain experience that simply cannot be matched by digital. I understand that viewpoint; however, I can argue that digital media can create new, better experiences that harbors on both convenience and quality without destroying the humanistic aspect. Media companies have been continually creating new reading experiences for books, magazines, and other media by adding features and content that’s enticing and beautifully crafted. How that content is delivered, however, is a separate problem. Many publications go under or give up on digital content simply because getting their publication to their target audience (and advertising to non-subscribers) is fairly difficult. The story on digital music is a different conversation with the transition into streaming services that, some feel, are hampering the value of music. I own around 20 vinyls & I’ve found that they’re mostly for show, to prove my snooty music hipster self that I am “real” with my 20 albums despite the fact that 99% of the time I listen to music digitally. They gather dust and take up space. So much for an experience.

Driving to a Barnes and Noble and shopping for books is also a great experience. The vast selection, coffee-house atmosphere and picking up a book in your hands, feeling the pages slip between your fingers is a great nostalgia trip. However, when it comes down to the core foundation of Barnes and Noble’s existence: reading books, that’s where I tend to gravitate towards the digital experience. Scouring the iBooks store for the latest read, downloading an excerpt to perk my interests, and having a limitless library that doesn’t require me to organize heavy books on shelf is a superior experience to me. I’ve read numerous books on my iPhone (even back in the iPhone 4 screen size days, the 6 makes it that much greater) and iPad and the digital experience trumps all. My library is always with me, I can read in the dark without having to light my entire room, and I read content from all different sources (Medium has become the #1 because it’s written by people, y’know, that whole humanistic aspect).

Why can’t we make digital products more human instead of piggybacking on nostalgia? I would rather have more trees than books & listen to more music than an unused CD and vinyl collection. I care about the albums I truly love: I buy them on iTunes. Guilty-pleasure songs? I stream them. The artist gets paid. I don’t have another useless CD filling up space in my drawer. Win-win-win. Go experience life instead of riding the nostalgia high, because life only moves forward.