Second, and more importantly, the vinyl revival has shown the value of the premium product. It’s as if music became so debased and so disposable that it has become virtually worthless – at the least, difficult to assign true value. The return of the record as a high value, (comparatively) low volume premium product shows that there is room for quality collectable technology, no matter how analogue.
How long will it remain comparatively low volume? Retailers such as Barnes & Noble and even Wal Mart in the US now stock records en masse, as does Tesco here in the UK. Tesco introduced vinyl just before Christmas last year, for the first time ever, and made headlines in June for stocking rare pink vinyl versions of Sound Affects by the Jam and green and pink copies of The Clash’s classic London Calling.
As the vinyl revival has moved into the mainstream, what so for other versions 1.0? (Of course, technically vinyl records are not v.1.0, but are v.1.0 in the canon of modern culture which incudes the printed book, the magazine, photographic and movie film and recording tape.) We’ve seen a glimmer of hope for print and for direct mail, as marketers have been searching for ways to cut through the e-marketing dross, especially in an age when personal mail has reduced to a trickle. Quality is now paramount in all commercial print – the more memorable, the more tangible, the more likely to make an impact.
Photographic film has also transformed into a high quality format. Its decline has stabilised, and in some manifestations (e.g. Lomography) grown. Indeed, Fujifilm has had great success with Instax, which combines the feel of film photography with a Polaroid-style output. In the words of Nick Riviezzo from Fujifilm North America, Instax: “does something very special in our all-digital world – it produces a tangible photo that beautifully captures an important moment in time”. Instantly.
Finally, as reported in the Guardian in May, printed book sales in the UK rose for the first time in four years, in tandem with a decline in e-book sales. Publisher’s Association Chief Executive Stephen Lotinga said: “Digital continues to be an incredibly important part of the industry, but it would appear there remains a special place in the consumer’s heart for aesthetic pleasure that printed books can bring.”
It’s clear that there’s room for version 1.0 in matrix of the modern world. Just how far it re-establishes itself it remains to be seen. However, don’t be surprised if you see a brand or marketer going all ‘version 1.0’ on an individual project level, as a form of reverse creative destruction.