Things have been overly busy here at world headquarters and when that sort of thing happens you go into a mode whereby the important things get done and everything else waits until you can either personally get to them or you can delegate to someone else. Case in point, I've been trying to teach our cats to reply to emails that arrive at the office while I'm in the field but so far no luck. Alas it would have been great if I could get the fuzzy little buggers to order some office supplies the other week.
Ya see, I finished up a shoot for a commercial client who wanted the raw files so that their in house GA's could process them for the advert but low and behold I ran out of jewel cases to ship the dvd in. No problem I thought, I'll just swing by the store on the way to the post office and get a big 'ol box of them like I always do. You see the foreshadowing going on don't 'cha? Well I go to my usual store and they don't carry the full sized jewel boxes any more. I only ship optical disks in the full thickness jewel cases or the big DVD cases so that they don't get damaged in shipment despite the padded mailers that they are in. The only ones that I could find were the fragile slim jewel cases. Two more stores later and nothing. Seems that the big office supply stores are phasing CD's, DVD's and all related supplies entirely out of their stock. Wha? Yep it's all USB thumb drives from now on. Ok I partially get that: I have a few of them for swapping files from one computer to the other but that got me thinking:
Is this actually practical for a business like mine to use thumb drives for file delivery?
Well they are pretty cheap, a 4gb thumb drive is all of about $5 these days and that is a pittance overall. Heck bill that to the client. Ok but I have always had a label on the disc which indicates who, what, where and all that so the client can easily look at it and know if that's the disc that they need. With my logo and contact info on it every time they look at one of my discs it is essentially a marketing impression. But on a thumb drive you can't put that info on the tiny thing. Ok maybe a simple logo but that's it. So you are asking the client to pop one drive into their system and open up your files just to see if that's the one that they need to access? I don't think so. Then there is the question of if you are going to be sensible and hold on to the original files as a backup, many of my clients do this as their archiving isn't what it should be, where do you store the thumb drives until you need them, a shoe box? Or maybe you just throw them away. Personally I send out easily 100+ jobs on disc a year. Multiply that by all the other people who need to do this. That freaks out my quiet inner ecologist thinking of the millions of thumb drives and all their toxic materials in landfills. Maybe send the thumb drive with a stamped return mailer so that you can get the drive back and reuse them.
So I contacted a few good clients, told them the story and asked for their thoughts. They were surpprised at the death of the CD/DVD in the business world. Thumbdrives were not the answer from their point of view for basically the same reasons as I came up with. So now what?
Luckily we can still get optical discs and cases online but not at Staples or Officemax or othe big box retailers. I wonder that the near future holds though as we need some manner of large file transfer that addresses these issues.