We all remember the good old days, or at least most of us do. Going to our local movie rental store and staring at those brown boxes with a laser printer cut outs for a cover. It was Showtime Video for me. That was such a big part of my life and I didn't think it would ever be any different. And then came along Blockbuster.
Blockbuster was like Showtime on steroids, and 10,000 more movies. Blockbuster became the Walmart of movie rental places. Sure you could still go to your little tiny local store, but why would you? And Blockbuster rode this wave for twenty years and seemed to have life licked. They treated customers like this and issued their ridiculous late fees. They gave you basically one day to watch a "New release" and return it, and charge you basically the price to outright buy it when you didn't. I honestly remember feeling this way and noticing these things 3-4 years before their demise. You could almost feel them ripping you off when you walked into the store to rent a video for the night. And then the online frenzy started and it was all downhill from there, until now.
Blockbuster took 4-5 years to realize what was happening. Even though it was fairly obvious to everyone else, they failed to realize they could be digitizing all their movies and making them available online. NetFlix was basically the only company doing this and they would have had little competition. Instead the continued to operate business as usual, not recognizing the huge loss of customers. So now after financial devastation, Blockbuster has come out swinging. From DVD rental kiosks to streaming video over the Internet to your TV or cellphone to downloading movies to memory cards at a store. These ideas are great, but are they too little too late?
Kurt Scherf, principal analyst with Dallas-based market research firm Parks Associates, said Netflix and others simply adapted to changing trends faster than Blockbuster. "Blockbuster had that opportunity a few years ago to set the standard," Scherf said. "I'm just amazed that they got passed so quickly by all these other players." On top of this sentiment, they lost 193 million dollars last year. So how does this tie into publishing?
Publishers had to have seen self-publishing and Ebooks coming. The history of publishing has shown many examples of self-published success and advancements in technology. Publishers seem to fight this tooth and nail, yet the market is clearly shifting in that direction. Throw in an economic downturn and authors counting their pennies, it almost seems laughable how major publishers have refused to budge. Now I do understand that publishers do not want the world to fully turn into an Ereading society and for books to be totally eradicated. Frankly, who wants that anyway? The major problem publishers are having is cutting out their middle men and accepting more legitimate authors they are turning down. Publishers should be helping more authors with legitimate books and stop chasing around the "flavors of the week" like Amanda Knox.
So in summary, I would advise major publishers to learn from Blockbuster. Once you lose your customers, they are gone. And if they all are doing it a different way, adapt quickly or perish forever.
I've been saying this for a while. E-books and e-readers are the new thing that's just going to keep getting bigger. And I'm not saying that publishing companies will be non-existent, but if they don't reform themselves with the times, they're going to keep going down and ending up just like what you said, down with Blockbuster.
My biggest issue of all is seeing books processed through the traditional publishing companies selling for like $10+ on the Kindle. It's ridiculous when you can buy it cheaper in paperback. It's not like it takes ink or paper to print these books...
I'm actually doing a persuasive speech in my public speaking class about why now is the time to self-publish over going through traditional publishing companies. Because they just keep doing it to themselves...