Over the years, I’ve been concentrating so much on entertaining others that I’ve slipped in my efforts to entertain myself; and right now, I have a yen to improve my life by re-immersing myself in the many forms of entertainment media I’ve collected over the years. But because of their formatting and my need to upgrade my collection, that will require digitization. (Don’t ask. It’s all my stuff, reformatted for me alone. No copyright infringement here. Move along.)
I have totally embraced digital storage, backup and delivery of my media content: It is much more efficient than filling rooms with reams of paper and vinyl that are difficult to consume in any quantity anywhere else but in that room. I want my collection of media to be capable of traveling with me… all of it. All the time. I haven’t bought a new printed book in years, and precious few CDs… which I have quickly converted into MP3s soon after purchase. It’s time for the rest of my collection to get the same treatment, and become the totally portable source of pleasure that it yearns to be.
Foremost is my music collection, a great deal of which is jazz from the 50s and 60s that I inherited from my Dad (when he decided not to take them to his retirement in Florida). I’ve got a ton of albums, some of which I still haven’t even listened to, and all of which needs to be turned into digital files. I used to hook up my laptop to the stereo system and use third-party software to digitize the songs, one by one; but the software I used is dated, and the setup needs improvement as well. I’ll probably buy a turntable that has a USB output, so I can go directly to computer with it, and update my editing software to make it easier to break an album side into multiple cuts, massage them to get out artifacts, adjust fades, etc. Once I’m done, I may never have to buy an old song again. Well, I probably will… I don’t have everything. But I won’t need much!
Next will be my novels. I’ve still got novels on shelves and in boxes, many of which were my favorites, but which I haven’t touched in awhile due to switching to an almost totally digital reading habit. So I need to start digitizing my existing novels (and probably throwing out any that I discover I don’t want to digitize). That will free up a lot of space on the shelves, which, these days, are beginning to compete with my growing DVD collection.
Novel digitization is tricky, because it’s so easy for available software to do a bad job translating physical text to digital files, wrongly translating letters and entire words, screwing up punctuation and spacing, etc. Each book really needs a proofing pass to catch those anomalies, so it takes a lot more personal effort to digitize a book. But with a significant amount of the books I have, the effort will be well worth it.
There are a few devices that are designed to ease the novel digitization process, mostly using multiple cameras or mirrors and special mounts to hold the books… some can be assembled yourself, if you’re a decent builder. (I may have to buy.) I could also use my flatbed scanner, though that can be incredibly slow and involve more steps to digitization. With all the stuff I have, I’m probably better off spending on the new equipment and making my life easier.
And finally, there are my many graphic novels. The good news is, you don’t need to do any proofing of a digital image file. The bad news is, you still have to scan each page separately… and I have a LOT of GNs. They also take up a lot of digital space at good resolutions, so I may find myself buying a dedicated hard drive just to hold them. But again, if it means I spend more time enjoying all of that choice content… it’s well worth it.
Don’t think I haven’t considered that some of this material has already been digitized by someone out there, and that it’s just a matter of getting online and downloading copies of many of these books and albums. Personally, I prefer not to do that; I consider that as part of the reason I have been unsuccessful as a new writer. So I will resist the temptation as much as I am able, and do the work myself.
So at least I don’t have to worry about being bored as I bring my writing sideline to a close. I’ll get back to enjoying the reams of fantastic content I’ve enjoyed over the years, most of which is better than anything I was ever able to produce. And after all, literature and art aren’t worth a damn if someone isn’t actually enjoying them. Right?