The Joys of a Physical Catalog

In this era of e-commerce giants and streaming platforms, don’t underestimate the pleasures of flipping through a printed catalog. Catalog

Earlier this year, I ordered several classic Hong Kong action movies from, which specializes in obscure, hard-to-find, underground, and cult films and TV shows. My experience was great — I received my movies in less than a week — and I thought nothing of it, other than I’ll probably order from them again as my budget allows.

Well, that “probably” has since become a “definitely,” and for one simple reason: sent me an honest-to-goodness physical catalog in the mail. Even though it only contains a fraction of their online catalog, there’s something immensely satisfying about holding a printed catalog in my hands, flipping through its pages, glimpsing at the artwork, and reading the synopses (some of which are pretty over-the-top given the number of cult/exploitation titles they offer).

I won’t deny that some nostalgia’s at play here. Thumbing through the catalog reminds me of looking through my family’s old Sears catalogs, and drooling over the Star Wars and G.I. Joe toys. It also reminds me of staring at the array of lurid and exotic VHS covers in the video rental store, knowing full well that my dad would never rent Ninja III: The Domination, Def-Con 4, or Piranha II: The Spawning, but being intrigued nonetheless.

In this era of e-commerce giants and streaming platforms, it’s easy to forget about the simple, tactile pleasure of looking through a physical catalog. (See also: Combing through the bins at used record stores.) Doing so may be less efficient than searching on a website or filtering in an app, but websites and apps don’t really grant the same rewarding sense of exploration and discovery.

Don’t take my word for it, though: sign up to receive your own catalog in the mail.

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