NY Times reported earlier this week that Netflix introduced a streaming subscription that is cheaper than their DVD rental service! Wow! This marks to me the end of the physical era for movies. Last year I witnessed the closing of the last Virgin Megastore in NYC which was the end of the physical Music era (it is now really hard to find CDs in NYC!).
Shopping streets will never again look the same: gone are the young crowds at music stores, folks renting movies for the weekend in the local video rental store and gone will be the shops filled with book lovers browsing the latest titles. It is just a matter of time… That is… unless existing shop owners are able to differentiate by adding complementary services and products. In Finland this has been happening in video/DVD rental stores for a long time: they have gone en mass in selling candies, ice cream and other sweets. That is of course not going to be enough to justify a shop.
What else besides music, movies and books will be digital soon?
Update November 25: NY times “Netflix a Fast-Growing Rival to Hollywood“, duh, that is an easy one!
Virgin Megastore is leaving New York City and the USA altogether! To me this truly marks the end of the physical music era and the beginning of digital for the masses. Surely, digital music sales have gone up for a long time already and many (independent) music stores have closed over the last years but the fact that Virgin stepping out is a big thing. Virgin did after all start as a record shop called Virgin Records and Tapes!
Personally I am sad that Virgin Megastore is soon no-more. Why? I just loved going there to browse around, touch the physical CDs/DVDs and above all watching people in the store. Did I buy in the store? Yes! I found myself buying every time I came to the store. Will I continue buying physical CDs/DVDs? Yes! That is for most albums… I just really like to rip CDs in the quality I want. The most important part of a physical CD is however for me the album art work and the booklet.
Thinking about the art work: when moving from the big Long Play records to the small CDs I felt a bit similar: nothing was going to beat the big cover and booklet. It just was part of the whole music experience. And it was art! I somehow learned to live with the small CD booklets and so, maybe I will learn to live with digital art too.