The Personal Media Collection in an Era of Connected Viewing

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Book Chapter

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Publication Title

Connected Viewing: Selling, Streaming, and Sharing Media in the Digital Era


Over the last five or six decades, collecting media content has changed from a fringe activity, practiced by fans and self-styled collectors, to an everyday mode of media consumption in which many consumers participate. As it has changed, so too have the economics of media production, as media industries have become increasingly dependent on the sale of media content in collectable form to consumers. Even in the film and television industries, which among media industries came relatively late to the idea of their products as collectible, the sale of content for personal collections has become an essential part of profit models. The growth of connected viewing in the form of digital distribution and the development of cloud-based services for online consumption, however, have considerably complicated the practice of consumer collecting. Whereas the logic of collecting practices has historically been premised on the physical or objective qualities of material goods, digital goods are (despite their foundation as binary code) functionally immaterial and for this reason, often treated by consumers and scholars more as information than as objects. Though such a conception may yet prove compatible with traditional collecting practices -- or may, indeed, give rise to new ones--media companies have introduced additional complexity by advocating and widely implementing a model for digital goods in which behaviors taken for granted as being natural corollaries of ownership (such as organizing and reselling) are restricted or disabled. Collecting practices thus face an uncertain future in an era of connected viewing.


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