“Films by post?! Next, you’ll be sending a minidisc using smoke signals via fax”.

So I have endured almost a decade of mockery for having a Lovefilm account. It began in 2008, when I had just moved into my own flat, and was seeking some cheap entertainment on an evening. I probably could have worded that better.

Anyway, for less than £10 a month (the average price of one visit to the cinema), I could create a list of new and classic film titles, and Lovefilm would post two of them through my door at a time. I watched them, put them back in the funny pre-paid envelopes (side note – it took me a while to work out how to use them, so initially I used my own envelopes!), then a couple of days later, two more randomly selected films from my list arrived.

These services had a huge number of subscribers at their peak. I have a vague recollection of WH Smith and HMV launching their own rival versions. Netflix, the behemoth of streaming millenials everywhere, began its life as a postal film service too.

I knew the writing was on the wall for Lovefilm way back in 2011. Not because of the falling numbers of subscribers, but because once it had been swallowed up by the Amazon mothership, its days were always numbered. Even though the film selection was huge (around 80,000 titles) compared to those available on streaming services (which often feel like a trawl through the bargain bin at Woolies), Amazon wasn’t bothered about it really.

Almost exactly ten years to the day I first signed up as a customer, I received a very robotic E-mail informing me of the US giant’s intention to close the service down on Hallowe’en. Not as much of a shocker as a badly executed trick or treat doorstep visit, to be honest.

I get asked so frequently ‘why don’t you just embrace streaming’? My answer to this is that it is pleasing to receive post that is not a charity envelope, a demand for money from my bank, or a dog-eared menu for my local greasy kebab emporium. I also value my film watching time, and don’t just want to flick through endless menus of unappealing movies, watching the first ten minutes before deciding they are all crap & paying Sky £5.49 for something decent.

I have done my research and found that Cinema Paradiso has even more titles (90,000), including lots of interesting World Cinema & other stuff which simply won’t exist on Netflix or any of the other streaming services. I have cancelled my direct debit with Lovefilm, denying them the final two payments of £7.99 (that will show them, ha!). My first CP films arrive in the post tomorrow.

I may be a bit of a luddite, but once these things disappear, people get misty-eyed about them. I might as well enjoy them before they become a hipster thing. See vinyl for details. For the record, I also still post birthday cards to friends and even write the odd letter. Also cool things to do.

Right, best click publish and fax this blog onto the internet. Bye for now. Alex xLovefilm

 

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