Archive for Internet
How long before video stores go the way of travel agencies?
Remember the local travel agent? They’d advertise on local TV and they had tiny offices with globes on the signs and maps on the walls. You’d ring them up if you wanted a surrogate to get you the best deal on a hotel in Chicago or a rental car in Boston.
Then the Internet struck, with its multitude of websites, and the American traveler became his or her own travel agent. The middle man, as so often has happened after the Internet, was cut out, like a tumor.
Why pay someone to do something that we could do for free, and still get discounts to boot?
So I wonder about the fate of the corner video store.
Actually, you may have to drive past quite a few corners before you find a video store these days.
NetFlix, the Red Box kiosks, the Internet (of course) and more people owning BluRay discs than DVDs, are all contributing to the slow death of the local video store, I’m afraid.
But some of it is the video store’s own doing.
Take late fees. Please.
One of the allures to the above alternatives to renting movies is that none of them will charge you a late fee. And late fees, if we’re just talking between us, is surely a big revenue gainer in the video rental business.
One of the reasons why late fees are so common is that the due dates for the movies are all over the map.
This one’s due in two days. That one’s due in three days. You have a full week on that other one. Oops, better get THIS one back TOMORROW. Or else.
We used to run a late fee balance at one of the local stores like a drunk would a bar tab.
Even asking for a printout of the due dates, which the store gladly provided, didn’t always prevent Video A, B or C frome being brought back tardy.
But here’s the deal: video stores must be feeling the heat from their competitors. So why not back off on the late fees? And I have just the idea to make that happen, and make the video store more attractive.
If I ran a video store, I’d advertise that every movie in the joint, from A to Z, was a one-week rental. Every single one.
Doesn’t matter if it’s a “new release.” Doesn’t matter if it came out on Tuesday, or 12 years ago. Every one of my films, you can have for a week.
Simple. Easy to remember.
Will people still be tardy, even under that arrangement? Sure. But that’s on them.
I’d even call my place One Week Video. Seriously.
Think of it. You come in, browse, grab a bunch of movies, pay me and know that everything is due one week from today. Simple. No muss, no fuss.
I’d even have seven different types of bags, each with a day of the week on it. You come in on a Monday, you get a Monday Bag. And so on.
“Honey, when are these movies due back?”
“What does the bag say?”
Of course, you go beyond the seven-day limit, and we have a problem. But I won’t tag you for very much. Promise.
It’s an idea that makes far too much sense, which is why it won’t be adopted.
Which is part of why the video store will join the travel agent, the drive-in movie and mini-golf in the Dungeon of the Forgotten.
Sooner, rather than later.
The first thing I notice is the smell.
It’s not an odor, it’s a scent—tickling the olfactory nerves with its blend of the newly minted, the newly printed. Then there’s sometimes a hint of coffee wafting from somewhere in the back.
I love walking into a bookstore.
The used bookstore has its own scents, and that blend is appealing, too.
But today I talk about the new bookstore, where nothing has been pre-owned, and the books have only been read by the patrons sitting in overstuffed chairs or on hardbacks as they sip their lattes.
The big box bookstore is dying a slow, agonizing death. It reminds me of the gradual yet pervasive disappearance of the drive-in movie theaters, “back in the day”—which was less than 20 years ago.
The announcement that Borders is liquidating, severing over 10,000 jobs across the country and over 400 in Ann Arbor alone, is sad beyond the job loss, which this economy hardly needs.
This isn’t just a chain closing; it’s maybe the harbinger of a piece of our soul being cut out of us.
For now, Barnes and Noble survives, but for how much longer?
It’s another instance of how the Internet giveth and can taketh away.
There hasn’t been an economic double-edged sword in recent times quite like the Internet.
Jobs have been created, but you get the feeling that more have been eliminated in this digital, e-age.
Amazon.com has been blamed, in part, for Borders’ demise. More people are doing their browsing online—and not just website surfing. I’m talking actual BROWSING. Remember that?
Remember when you touched and felt the items you were considering for purchase? Remember when buying decisions were made on more than just a thumbnail photo on your computer’s monitor?
The convenience of online shopping can’t be overlooked. I admit that there’s something wicked about “shopping” in your pajamas at 11:00 at night.
But then I walk into a bookstore, as I did last weekend (Barnes and Noble, in fact), and there was that smell again, beckoning me—that come hither scent of books, magazines, games and java.
That’s java the coffee, not java the computer programming language.
I don’t even have to buy anything at a bookstore in order to enjoy myself. On Sunday I had some time to kill while the ladies in my life had fun at the Ulta makeup store. I spent some 15 minutes standing and crouching in front of the sports section of books, sliding one out on occasion to peruse.
I wandered over to the mystery section, and then the history area. Nearby were some spiritual books, one of which I actually purchased.
I have stabbed my nose into a book for purposes of just smelling it. I admit it. I smell books. Why? Because they smell good. I also love their newness, their crisp pages, their tight binding.
I could spend hours in a bookstore and buy little to nothing. It’s the best babysitter for me, and my wife knows it.
There’s a Borders near me, in Oakland Mall, though for how much longer, who knows. I was there last weekend, too.
I love the smell of a new bookstore.
You can’t get that online.
Not that the cutthroat world of business cares much about that.
Those advertisers sure know a captive audience when it sees one.
I’m talking about the newest way they’re getting you to watch their ads—by boldly placing them in front of various videos you click to watch on the Internet.
And they’re getting worse.
It used to be that the advertiser spots you’d be forced to view would last 10 seconds. No biggie; 10 seconds isn’t too long to settle in and watch what you hope will be a compelling, funny, interesting, cute video.
Then the spots grew to 15 seconds in length. OK, what’s 15 seconds, right? That doesn’t seem too long.
Now they’re a full 30 seconds in length, and they’re showing up in more and more videos, annoyingly so.
Now we have a problem.
First, 30 seconds is a long time. It may not seem like it, but grab a watch with a second hand, close your eyes, and count out what YOU believe are 30 seconds. Almost guaranteed, the watch will tell you that you’re shy.
Besides that, having to sit through a 30-second ad to watch a video that often times is barely that long itself, is the height of annoyance.
Not that the advertisers care about that, of course.
Consider it payback for all the times we zoom past their commercials on TV programs that we’ve recorded on our DVR.
Zoom past THIS, the advertisers are saying.
You see, once the “sponsor message” begins playing, you can’t get past it. You are, for those 30 seconds, about as helpless and as captive as a fly in a spider’s web.
I even had to watch the same ad a second time, because I had the nerve to click “replay” of the video I had just viewed. I wanted to yell, “I meant replay the VIDEO, not the commercial!!”
Sure, you can simply not pay attention to the ad. But the fact remains: they took 30 seconds away from you, regardless. Sometimes even 60.
I know what you’re saying.
“Eno, this is just another case of whining when it won’t do you any good.”
True, but doesn’t it feel good sometimes to rant, even if it’s unlikely to bear fruit?
You think sitting through a 30-second commercial is bad? Don’t look now, but there has been talk that the Internet itself may not be a free thing anymore—and I mean, beyond the cost you pay your provider every month.
Yes, I’m talking about pay-per-view sites and other little fees to make money off content that has been, since Internet time immemorial, 100% free of charge.
But that’s still a ways off. Right now, the annoyance is forcing us to watch 30-second ads before our selected videos.
Never has half-a-minute seemed interminable.