Blue-Ray formatted discs are cool and many of the patrons in our libraries are asking for them. But it’s my opinion that there are quite a few problems with creating a blue ray collection in your Library. To explain why, I came up with seven reasons not to purchase Blue-Ray format discs in libraries.
1) Blue-ray players are backwards compatible with DVDs, but DVD players will not play blue-rays.
2) If you invest in blue-ray discs, the investment for the patron is that they need to have a blue-ray player to access your collection. Also, to really gain a value in quality for a blue-ray player, a person must also purchase a Hi-Definition television. I don’t think there is yet a critical mass of patrons with both a Blue-Ray player and a Hi-Def television to necessitate a Blue-Ray collection. However, as DVDs, players, and televisions have become fairly ubiquitous there typically is no new investment needed for the patron by only providing a DVD format.
3) Blue-ray DVDs don’t really add anything to the value of the information contained in the item. For example, a documentary on Sharks is still the same documentary in Blue-Ray as it is in the original DVD format. In other words the quality of the information doesn’t improve with the increased number of pixels.
4) There is yet to be a significant number of films that are only provided in the Blue-ray format. Typically, if it’s available in Blue-ray, it’s also available in DVD and the DVDs can be played on a patron’s Blue-ray player.
5) What is the Blue-Ray format longevity? I’m not sure, but it seems to me that we are going to pass over Blue-Ray fairly quickly and we are fast moving towards movies on demand via computer downloads and cable networks. (I can’t remember the last time I purchased a physical copy of a movie in any format) In these cases, an even higher quality film can be provided digitally as the amount of information is not limited to the space available on a Disc nor would a person have to worry about scratches or other damages to the disc.
6) The cost of a Blue-Ray disc is still much higher than the cost of a DVD.
7) Blue-Ray discs don’t solve the fundamental problem with discs and that is that discs scratch, warp, crack, get dirty and otherwise become unreadable with the severe treatment of them from our patrons. This means that replacement and maintenance costs will be dramatically increased with the new format.
So, if it were my decision (luckily, it’s not my decision in my current position) I would hold off on purchasing Blue-Ray DVDs unless you are in an area with a patron demographic that has the investment capital to purchase the resources necessitating blue-ray format movies (player and television), or the Blue-ray format price comes down and a critical mass of people starting using the format exclusively as happened with the switch from VHS to DVD, or movies become available only in the Blue-Ray format. Except for the “cool” factor I don’t see much added value for the library with the inclusion of such a costly collection. Of course, I could be wrong. What do you think?