Blockbuster has crumbled under the competition with Netflix and Redbox, and its no wonder really. As sad as I am to see our neighborhood store shut down, it was no big surprise. This is just one more nail in the coffin of tangible media.
What do I mean by that?
When was the last time you walked into a music store? I'm not talking about the CD section at Wal-mart. An honest-to-God music store? I can't remember either because most of them vanished more than a decade ago with the rise of Ipod and downloadable music. The shops that remain tend to sell vintage albums and such, and the CD sections in other stores are shrinking.
Then Borders bit the dust in 2011. The advent of e-readers and digital books took down the once mighty corporate giant, and we all felt the earth tremble beneath our feel as it fell.
And now Blockbuster.
Doesn't this feel like a massive tipping of the media dominoes? Newspapers have faced massive declines in subscriptions as more and more people access their news online. The goes with movies and TV shows. And word has it that Barnes & Noble isn't feeling so hot these days, although it's doing its best to compete with Amazon and the Kindle e-reader.
For a while I felt kind of sad about all these changes. What will the world be like without music, books and movies I can hold in my hand? What will living in an all-digital world be like? Well, I don't know just how soon physical books will disappear, or if they ever will, but we are on the precipice of a world of all-virtual movies and music, so it really isn't difficult to imagine books may eventually go the way of the dinosaur, too.
But is that really a bad thing, or even a sad thing? I do love reading "real" books, the texture of the paper, the turning of the pages, the smell of a new book. It's an experience I treasure, and I think as long as my generation lives, we will still have books. But for my kids and their future kids, life is all about digital, downloads, uploads, and E-everything. That is what they will know, what they may prefer. And that's okay.
Change, progress, is what living in the 21st Century is all about. And it was no different in the 19th & 20th Centuries. I imagine my parents sighed a little when 45 records disappeared. My dad still has an extensive collection of originals that we play on an old turn table once in a while. My grandma loved her 8-track tapes. My husband loved his cassettes. But remember, recorded sound, recorded music has only been around for a little more than a hundred years! Recorded movies even less. And the forms these recordings have taken have been transforming and progressing ever since.
Now, books have been around for a lot longer. The Guttenberg Bible was printed in the 1400s. But books - the way we know them, stories and information accessible to the masses, have only been around since the mid 1800s, less than 200 years. In the grand scheme of history, that's not really all that long. Before that stories existed in the form of either oral traditions or stage performances.
My point is that change is not so bad. The format in which we access our music, our stories isn't really as important as the fact that we continue to have music and stories. Whether via my Ipod, or E-reader, or some future electronic implant in my skull, as long as I have my stories, I'm happy.
What about you?