I must admit that I’m a late adopter to the latest trend in purchasing music. Although my daughters have been downloading music from iTunes for years, and I’ve been known to also download music, I still like to walk into a store and purchase a CD. There’s just something about seeing the “cover artwork” and reading the lyrics.
I also have the benefit of two daughters who expand my listening tastes beyond the usual mindless music played on the popular “top 40” radio stations, as well as the classics from the 60’s and 70’s. A few weeks ago I went to Borders and Best Buy to purchase a new “Belle and Sebastian” album (notice that I still refer to it as an “album”), and was shocked to see that what used to be rows and rows of CD’s is now just two aisles. As an indication that this desire to touch and feel our music is just for folks over the age of 40, all the selections were circa 1970. Then it hit me – things have moved from albums, then CDs and now downloaded music. According to the latest statistics (2008) from the Recording Industry Association of America, the digital downloads/internet purchases of music increased from 2.4% in 1999 to 28.1% in 2008 (latest statistics) and one can conclude that there has been a significant increase since 2008. On the flip side (forgive the old reference to an album flip side), record store purchases have declined from 44.5% to 30%. With this in mind, we can safely assume that within five years, the only way to purchase new music will be via the internet; however, there will still be young and old who will pay dearly for the collectible records and CDs.
As I write this at a Barnes and Noble, I can only project that the iPad, Kindle and Nook devices will have the same impact on books. As an avid reader who loves to meander through a bookstore for hours, I can’t fathom a world in which I can’t physically touch the books I read and then file them in my library with the thought that “I’m going to reread that book one day”. I admit that more than once in my life, I’ve walked into a friend’s house and felt a gravitational pull to the bookcase to see if we have similar reading interests. (At least don’t go through their medicine cabinet). Perhaps one day I’ll see the benefits of using an electronic device to read a book. You know – less waste, more efficiency…and I’m sure that there are other reasons that I can’t currently fathom, but, for now I’m going to go buy a new book and enjoy the artwork, the typography and the story.
Watch out…before you know it, the bookstore will just be an electronic kiosk of choices to download. I just hope that they still have a coffee shop, so I can browse and get caffeinated at the same time.