Is It Me or Is It The Media? or Convenience, the next Plastics

If you follow me on the Zuckerberg Experiment, you saw a quick note on how the companies I have worked for fared. I could look up the actual post, but we all know that I am way to lazy to do that.

I have essentially worked for three companies or institutions over the course of my life. Some of these were bought out by other companies which were in turn bought out by still other companies
1 but that really doesn't matter all that much for what I am discussing here.

My first job was at Waldenbooks.
2 I started working there in high school. I worked there all the way through college. I think. Everything around that time is a little fuzzy, I'll be honest with you. Anyway Walden's was absorbed by Borders. A few years ago Borders began closing their nonprofitable stores. I bought a lot of books at discounted prices. Eventually the company filed for bankruptcy. A number of different reasons were given for Borders' demise. One of them was the change in the way people shopped for books (i.e. it's all Amazon's fault). Another was the rise in digital readers (I think it is way too early to start talking about the demise of the printed word due to digital reading). Whatever the case, a number of people blamed the march of technology for the company's downfall.

My second job was at Blockbuster Video. I was hired in as an Assistant Manager. I moved through a couple different locations, finally spending most of my time in the Novi store. Recently, a number of Blockbusters have been closing their doors. Non-profitable stores and stores whose leases have expired have closed. I have purchased a number of movies and discounted prices. A number of different reasons have been given for the Blockbuster's demise. Chief among them is a change in the way people rent movies (i.e. it's all Netflix fault). Another is the rise of low priced, high speed internet access and the rise of personal devices capable of showing movies. When it took half a day to download an hour and a half movie, renting via the internet was not a viable option. However, now that many (most? some?) can stream a video fast enough to watch it in real time this is no longer an issue.

As you can see, an argument can be made that in each case, the business in question suffered losses because they were purveyors of an older
5 medium. I won’t go that far, but I will say that the businesses in question suffered because their competitors offered a more convenient way of acquiring the material the customers wanted.6

As I write this it is dark and snowy and I know that I would not want to venture outside in order to pick up a new paperback or drop off a video rental. I would have to put pants on! To Hell with that idea. It is far more easier to download a new book (in fact I downloaded 6 earlier this evening) or to rent something via satellite or stream it to my iPad.

Perhaps Mr. McGuire’s advice can be updated to where the “one word” is convenience instead of plastics.
I feel bad for the scores of people who will be losing their jobs as Blockbusters close. Do I think that this is the beginning of their own march toward bankruptcy? Actually, no. I would not be surprised to see this as the first step in the elimination of the chain’s video rental locations, but I think that they will attempt to maintain a competitive edge by competing against Netflix and other services by shifting the majority of their focus to home rental (either by mail or by internet).

Then again, what the Hell do I know?

I also feel bad for the people like me out there, the collectors, the hoarders, the “why do you have so many cats” people. Sure, it is just as easy to buy a whole bunch of digital books and movies and keep them on a hard drive. To me, this lacks something. There is a thrill to being able to look over all of the books/movies/CDs/action figures/whatever you collects. There is a thrill which is somehow lacking when the material is just kept digitally.
7/8 There is a certain satisfaction to being able to point at a shelf full of books/movies/CDs/action figures/whatever you collects and say “Yep, that collection is mine. I built it up over years.”

Of course, the up side to the digital collection is you never get embarrassed when someone comes over to your house and finds your collection of guilty pleasure books/movies/CDs/action figures/whatever you collects.

PS. Company three was a hospital. If they start closing their satellite clinics it
is my fault.

1 It's the circle of liiiiiiiiife.

2 Yeah, I know. How long ago was

3 1986.

4 Again, too lazy to look up the statistics. I just know that until a few months ago
I was one of those people who had to wait half a day for a movie to download. I can’t tell you how nice it it to have updated my home internet connection.

5 I’m sure some would say outdated or even antiquated but you will never hear me talk about a book like that.

6 It wasn’t my fault, man. It wasn’t my fault!

7 I’m not even going to get into the whole question of losing your entire library due to a power surge of hard drive failure. I am assuming that there will be ways of reacquiring the stuff you have lost without repurchasing it. Actually, this is an argument
for digital downloads, isn’t it?

8 There is also the question of loaning material out. Some of my favorite books and movies have been acquired because I borrowed them from a friend and just absolutely had to have them in my collection.

9 Of course what happened was I borrowed and read the book/watched the movie, returned it, then saw it in a brick and mortar location and said “Oh Yeah! I loved that!” then bought it on the cheap.

10 Really? All of the Police Academy movies?