I’ve been reading some comments about public libraries and VHS. Interesting all (including those from people who seem to think that DVD is a passing fad and the durable ol’ VHS is really what counts)–but there’s one odd subrefrain.
Namely, all those people who just can’t afford a DVD player, so it’s important that libraries keep VHS around.
To which I have to say…Huh?
I know we’re in tough times, I know lots of people have very little income…
I also know that DVD players start at $18. That’s for new players, not Goodwill specials.
What we’re using at home? $0. Safeway was giving away a couple hundred over a weekend to celebrate the remodeling of the local store. It sat in our garage until our old Sony player’s laser gave out (the first DVD player we ever had, so it was probably 8-9 years old). We hooked it up as a little joke until we purchased a Proper Player.
It’s been the better part of a year, maybe more, and we’re unlikely to replace it until we go big-screen. In some ways, it’s more advanced than the Sony was–and apparently good enough quality that, as we discovered on our recent cruise, Holland America purchased a few thousand to go with the flat-screen TVs in their cabins. (The current equivalent seems to sell for $30 or so, but an $18 Coby looks an awful lot like our CyberHome.)
What am I saying here? That DVD players are now such a commodity item that they’re really not much of a barrier for people who want to get movies and other videos for free from their libraries.
No, I’m not advocating dumping your VHS collections. That’s a local decision. I am saying that trying to maintain such collections–quite apart from being literally impossible for newer material–is really hard to justify. Heck, you could probably buy a fleet of cheap DVD players for what it would cost to try to replace videocassettes and just hand them out as needed (no, I’m not suggesting that you do that either).
Oh, by the way: If you do have patrons for whom $20 is a real hardship…well, they’re in trouble come next February. There’s a $20 difference between the typical price of a digital:analog converter and the $40 government coupon they can get (if they know enough to ask for it, if they have access to the internet, if, if…). Without that converter, they’re not going to have any TV next year. (Government decision. Different discussion.)
What’s that you say? They have cable, so they’re covered? Well…if they have cable, they can afford a DVD player.