Tech backlash: the resurgence of film, vinyl and paperbacks

Technology has advanced art - for better or worse - at a speedy pace in recent years. But with the recent growth in vinyl sales, and the ongoing trend for film photography, is it really all over for analogue?

Tech backlash: the resurgence of film, vinyl and paperbacks

We know that the arts are advancing at an exciting but often terrifying speed due to technology - everything is going digital. We have had digital cameras for photography and digitised special effects in film for a long time, e-readers have been around for nearly a decade and even the most recent boom, music streaming services, is old hat to people who have been using Spotify for years.

So with all of this available at the touch of a screen, why has there been such a huge resurgence in older forms of media, particularly records and instant cameras?

Sales of vinyl in 2015 grew faster than any other format, including digital downloads and CDs (Guardian). And with shops like Urban Outfitters filling their entrances with records and instant cameras, it's clearly not just the nostalgia of middle-aged dads which is driving this trend. It's also a fact that e-readers have increased the sales of physical books in general. So why are people embracing these non-digital forms?

The speculation is that many of the records being bought are not even being listened to. Instead they are kept as potentially valuable collectors' items or simply used as retro decoration. Equally, instant cameras probably aren't being used as standard cameras, particularly as the film is so expensive. Instead they have become novelty items to be used alongside a more convenient phone camera. Books may well see the same trends, with classics and fancy hardbacks used to decorate shelves while Kindles are used for more popular reads.

But are we likey to abandon digital formats anytime soon? It's highly unlikely, particularly if we look at film, which hasn't taken quite the same trip down memory lane. When we can immediately stream any film we want, why would anyone want to return to the awkward and lower quality form of the video tape, while film reels and projectors are perhaps a bit too cumbersome and expensive. That's not to say the nostalgia isn't there as many directors, such as Quentin Tarantino and Wes Anderson, have returned to shooting on film, and novelty gifts like smartphone projectors are floating around everywhere.

The nostalgia, and for young people the novelty, of old media is fun and is probably something which will stick around in its own small way. However, as it's more of a retro trend, it is unlikely to offer any big competition to modern technology. We certainly won't be seeing vinyls everywhere instead of Spotify.

Image via Flickr


Ellen Orange

Ellen Orange Contributor

I am a 24 year old Marketing Officer from the North East with a passion for arts and writing. I did a BA in English Literature and an MA in Twentieth and Twenty First Century Literature at Durham University, because I love books and reading! I have experience in writing for a variety of student publications, as well as having contributed to Living North, a regional magazine and Culture magazine, a supplement to regional newspaper, The Journal. I have been part of a Young Journalists scheme writing for NewcastleGateshead's Juice Festival, a young people's arts and culture festival, and have since become a Team Juice member. As well as reading and writing, I love theatre, photography and crafts.

Recent posts by this author

View more posts by Ellen Orange


  • Bhavesh Jadva

    On 15 April 2016, 16:40 Bhavesh Jadva Voice Team commented:

    It's a big talking point is the intervention of digital into art and culture.

    It is interesting to see the return of paperback and vinyl. I've even seen some more hipster friends of mine with their old cassettes!

    In a world as rapidly moving as ours, I think nostalgia is more important than ever. Always nice to look backwards on how simple it all used to be! More than that though it keeps us grounded. As much as technology makes consuming culture easy, in some ways, people are more against this convolution more than ever. I still prefer writing down than typing them on my phone/laptop! I'd never remember them if I didn't, in honesty.

    Similarly, the purity and low maintenance of radio is making...waves(!)

    On a side note, though, I think physical film never really went anywhere. Digital filmmaking is such a new things that people at the tops of the field - just like Tarantino and Anderson and their cinematographers in their 30s-50s - never learnt to make films digitally. I feel like we're yet to see digital truly take over in that way.

    But it serves to ask the question: will digital takeover with the rise of fantasy and special effects-heavy films like Marvel's only to later disintegrate and return to form with physical film?

Post A Comment

You must be signed in to post a comment. Click here to sign in now

You might also like

Jonathan Pie: Heroes and Villains Review

Jonathan Pie: Heroes and Villains Review

by Kashmini Shah

Read now