There’s nothing quite like the feel of a new book, the smell of an old record, or the joy of heading to the comic book store every Wednesday. Sometimes, though, those physical collections can be a burden — like when you’re starved for space or want something more portable for travelling. Here are 10 forms of media you can take into the digital age.
10. Scan Photos to Your PC
You’ve probably already switched to a digital camera for most of the photos and video you take, but is any of it organised? And what about all your photos from the pre-digital days? If you have a flatbed scanner, take some time to scan those photos into your digital collection and touch them up. If you have the negatives, those can often produce better results. Once you’ve got everything in digital, don’t just leave it sitting around — come up with a good organisation scheme, whether it’s just in folders or using a photo management app like Picasa or Lyn.
9. Subscribe to Your Radio Shows as Podcasts
Radio may be convenient, but it doesn’t offer many other advantages. If you have a lot of radio shows you really like, chances are they’re already available online as podcasts, sometimes with pretty extensive archives. And, with the right app and a little configuration, you can turn all your favourite shows into a custom radio station that you can stream from anywhere, on your own time. Check out our favourite apps for iOSand Android, and our tips on how to supercharge your podcasts for more.
8. Play Your Video Games, Old and New
If you play video games on a PC, you’ve probably already started using steam to buy and organise them all — after all, why would you want to buy a disc, especially when online stores have such great sales? But when it comes to those classic games from your past, you may still have a few old systems knocking around. Those are great, but if you want to play on-the-go, you can turn your smartphone or tablet into a portable retro game arcade, or create one for your house that combines all those systems into one. You can even create your own retro arcade table for some serious playing.
7. Turn Your Recipes and Cookbooks Into a Digital Database
Everyone’s gotta eat, and cooking for yourself is the ultimate way to save money and eat great food. But once you start building up a good collection of recipes, it can become hard to sort through. Either you’ve got a shelf full of cookbooks or a box full of disorganised recipe cards you have to hand-write yourself. Luckily, all those cookbook recipes are probably online somewhere, and you can import them right into a digital recipe organisation or meal planning tool. Then you can search for the recipes you want, plan your meals for the week, and even create a shopping list from the ingredients. You’ll never go analogue again.
6. Read Your Newspapers and Magazines Online
Some of you digital mavens may scoff at those of us who still read old school newspapers and magazines, but they’re perfect ways to catch up on news or keep yourself entertained when you don’t have time to dig through RSS feeds or crawl Twitter. However, paper news does have one downside: it takes up a lot of space and wastes a lot of paper, especially once you start building up a collection. Luckily, going digital is easy: just grab your favourite news and magazine apps on your phone, tablet, or rooted ereader. Apple’s Newsstand and Android’s Google Play have some pretty great collections, and you can also get a lot of cheap magazines from apps like Zinio. If you’re looking for old issues, you can often find them via Google Books or other sources. And when you’re done, those old newspapers make great odor removers. Photo by Hector Alejandro.
5. Immortalise Your Journals, Drawings, and Other Personal Creations
Chances are you have a few old keepsakes lying around, from journals you wrote when you were younger to drawings and other projects. You probably don’t want to get rid of these, and you shouldn’t — but if you don’t have room to store them nearby or want to make them easier to access, you can scan them in just like you do photos. Going forward, you might consider taking some of those hobbies ditigal — for example, it’s really easy to keep a private journal online or get started with digital drawing. It lacks some of the emotion of pen-to-paper, but you can also do a lot of other cool stuff with it.
4. Consolidate Your Massive Comic Book Collection
If you’re tired of digging through long boxes just to read a few of your old comics, it might be time to take them digital. You can subscribe to your favourite comics from companies like Marvel and DC with apps like ComiXology, or use a CBR reader for old, indie, or other scanned issues. Check out the best comic book readers for the desktop, iOS, and Android for more, and start collecting.
3. Load Up Your ereader with Books
Physical books still have their time and place for sure, but when you don’t want to carry around a giant tome like Lord of the Rings, an ereader is the perfect option. Not only can you load up on ebooks for free or cheap, but a lot of ebook apps actually enhance your reading experience by helping you keep track of characters, look up words and locations, search through text, translate it, and more. If you have some ebooks lying around already, you can consolidate them and remove their DRM with Calibre for a truly organised collection.
2. Rip Your DVDs, Blu-Rays, and VHS Tapes
If your shelves are buckling under the weight of your massive DVD and Blu-Ray collection, maybe it’s time to go digital. Maybe you’ve already started with a service like Netflix, but when it comes to the movies you already bought, you have a lot of choices for downsizing that physical collection. Our favourite method, though is ripping those discs and crafting your own personal library of movies on a home theatre PC. You probably know how to rip a DVD, and ripping Blu-Rays is almost as easy, so what are you waiting for? Analogue formats like VHS are more complicated, but with the right equipment, it can be done.
1. Organise and Upgrade Your Massive Music Library
OK, so you probably knew this was coming — in fact, you’ve probably already gone digital with most of your music collection anyways. Ripping CDs is a breeze and music stores like iTunes and Amazon make it so easy to buy music you’ve probably ditched CDs altogether. But if your library’s a little overwhelmed, it may be time to go clean it up a bit — get rid of stuff you don’t want, make sure your metadata is all correct, and so on. Try out a new music player or upgrade those old, low-bitrate songs. Streaming services like Spotify and Rdio can get you pretty far, but they probably won’t replace your library 100%. And if you do still have some analogue music lying around — like old records — you can digitize and clean those up for your library too, so you can listen to them anywhere.