With all the talk of the digital age running amuck of the publishing industry (which is of particular concern to me), books aren’t the only media being negatively affected. Blockbuster Canada is in receivership with the remaining outlets facing closure.
Netflix, video streaming and even Amazon are progressively replacing the video rental outlets as the consumers preference, just as I-tunes and similar download sites threaten the existence of the music stores. RIP Sam the Record Man.
Maybe my age is a factor, but this news scares me. I am computer savvy enough to have tried all of the above media downloading and I am less than impressed. Yes it is great for finding the hard to find stuff (sometimes) like out of print low volume books, old songs, even old TV shows and movies. I have to say though, that it is more comforting to me to have the physical product in my hand and not have worry about the storage/supply site crashing and losing all that I’ve collected (insurance does NOT cover data recovery as of yet).
The thing that is lost in this whole digital frenzy is the brick and mortar stores. Do you remember going to the local record store and spending hours browsing and listening to the most recent hits and some golden oldies. It’s like wandering a bookstore. The smell, the hushed reverence, the stories almost literally whispering amongst the shelves. The same can be said of the bookstore’s younger sibling, the video store with its hint of popcorn, its movie theatre lobby feel.
Granted the industries themselves have accelerated the process with their bloated pricing, putting much of their product out of the reach of the average wallet.
The dark side of all this is that the internet has bred a ‘free’ mentality. If it’s on the net, it should be free. And it will be. It already is.
What’s this mean? For the ease of finding what you want to watch, listen to, or read at your fingertips for free (if you look hard enough) the people who work hard to produce a quality product won’t be able to anymore.
The uneducated response is that the writers need to be more creative and work harder to sell their wares. The reality is that they already are.
Writing is work. Hard work and not all of it is spent in front of the computer. We use our own money to travel to the places we write about, we spend time observing people and nature. We talk to experts in various fields to ensure our product, even fiction, is grounded enough in reality that the reader can connect. And for all that leg work, the research, the sweat, tears and frustration that comes with struggling to make a living writing, we get paid very little, sometimes not at all. At .99 cents a book, how many would we have to sell to break even for a year plus worth of labour?
I don’t know how this will all play out. Maybe it will chalk up to another Aikenheads moving in and forcing out all other hardware stores. But that didn’t happen, did it? Sure some small hardware chains were lost but the big ones adapted and survived.
That is what I am hoping for. That the industry will adapt and that writers, musicians, movie makers and artists can continue to produce quality work and be compensated for it.
There will always be people like me that prefer the hardcopy as opposed to the digital copy. I hope that you too will continue to support the local brick and mortar stores that care about what you want and that love the work they’re in. That is where you will find the true gems, the book/movie/album that you WEREN’T looking for.
Until then, you’ll find me haunting my local Blockbuster Video or my local bookstore Blue Heron Books, looking for those gems along with my favourites. Who knows, maybe one day my book(s) will be there waiting for you to find it.
Remember, you get what you pay for.