Tuesday, January 15, 2013

His Master's Voice

Today the news of HMV entering the hands of the administrators broke. It IS a shame, of course it is, for the founders of the business (although no longer with us) and the 4000+ staff who are possibly about to lose their jobs.

But this is clearly a business that could not compete with the likes of Amazon. Either because they failed to see the future of music and film buying or because they did, but didn't make the necessary changes and plans to enable the company to absorb them. And because Amazon will eat everything in its path, skilfully dodging taxes en route.

A shame. But use it, or lose it. Our source of power comes from our wallets and purses. If you choose carefully who to spend your money with, you have the power to affect who stays in business and who doesn't. There's a reason the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury's own such an enormous chunk of the British grocery-buying public's budget.

So if you have a local record shop, patronise it. Even if you have to order in what you want and wait a little bit. The Record Store Day website will find your nearest record shop for you.If you have to order online, order music direct from record labels - Ninja Tune are an excellent example of this, along with online stores such as Bleep, Boomkat and Juno. For harder-to-find stuff, there's, predictably, Hard To Find in Birmingham (shop and online), Music Stack and the deeply impressive Discogs, where you can bash that long-sought record into their search engine and find copies wherever they lie - and buy one!

I'm sure at this point my record-buying friends will be only too pleased to suggest further outlets which circumnavigate the behemoths.

Books don't have to come from Amazon either - The Green Door Bookshop is a beautiful little outlet for children's books - and good grief, while we still have Waterstone's, bloody well use it (their website states robustly that their taxes are all paid within the UK). If you're in London, you're spoilt for choice - one of our favourites is Bookseller Crow in Crystal Palace - physical and virtual - and the charming little chain Daunt Books is now online too.

Elsewhere localbookshops.co.uk will find your local book shop for you via a search for the book you're after, or via your postcode (a search for independant book shops in my area found eight). There's always the British High Street legend WH Smith (also online) - we may not pay that much attention to it, but we'll all be mourning when that's gone too. Use them. Their selection of stuff may be patchy and mainstream, but have you actually tried asking them to order you something? They can do it for you, again if you're able to exercise a little patience.

These gems are out there - use them. I saw a meme going round just before Christmas encouraging people to shop ''elsewhere', and while I applauded its sentiment, I got mad about its Christmas-centric message. Why not all year? Why not for all your stuff? I could write blog after blog on where to shop - the likes of Etsy, Folksy, artists' own shops, museum shops, Big Cartel shops and all manner of tiny 'long-tail'* businesses deserve your money far more than Amazon, and always offer more diverse, changeable but unique range of goodies.

Maybe I will write blog after blog, and share the love. After all, we're a nation of shopkeepers aren't we?

(Image created in homage to HMV, for our record label Blunt Force Trauma in 2005.)

*products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals, or exceeds, the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, but only if the store or distribution channel is large enough.

Read more: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/long-tail.asp#ixzz2I2gUoKa5

1 comment:

caroline @greendoorbooks said...

Hello, Inkymole. It's Green Door Bookshop here. *waves* Thanks for our shout out - not all books are from Amazon - hurrah! :)


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