My daughter and I went to the movies together, the first time I've been to the theater in a while. Though I like the movie, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I remembered all the reasons I haven't indulged in a visit to land of the big screen for a while.
Even though we went to a matinee showing, the price for the two of us was still three times what we would have to pay on demand. We skipped over the food stand, not only because the selections are so unhealthy, but because the prices of the fatty, sugary, salty snacks, are ridiculous. The theater itself was uncomfortably cool requiring us to keep our jackets on and despite the stadium seating, a few people managed to walk in front of us during the movie. The two couples sitting behind us talked through all the previews and the lady directly behind bumped my seat dozens of times during the show. And did I mention, we sat through nearly twenty minutes of commercials mixed in with the previews. The movies was supposed to begin at 3:10 and didn't start until 3:33 Though the seats weren't uncomfortable, they weren't my recliner either. Then when the movie was over, I had to go out in the cold rain and drive home.
I've read numerous reports in the paper and online about the declining revenues at the movie theater. I wonder why? Why should I pay the price to watch a movie I can get so much cheaper ondemand in a few months? Why should I waste money on horrible snacks when I can eat healthy in my own home and perhaps even indulge in a glass of wine during a movie? Why put up with rude strangers when I can watch a movie alone or with my family? Why drive out in the bad weather when I can set a blaze in the fireplace and wear my slippers? Except for a screen bigger than my TV, what does the theater experience offer me? Nothing.
There are still some movies I like to experience in a theater or that I just can't wait to see, but my movie going days are becoming fewer and further between. I think the book industry needs to take a lesson from the slowly dying theater world. What can physical book stores do to draw people in their doors? Over priced coffee? Probably not. Most people won't go in a bookstore just for the coffee when there's likely a Starbucks within a few blocks. Discounted products? Borders offered some good coupons but BAM and B&N are less generous. If their product isn't cheaper than ebooks or getting it from Amazon, why will people shop there? If there are no workers to help me find things in the store, I may as well stay home and investigate it online myself.
I've been reading lots of blogs in the last few days and smiling at the rave reviews by new owners of eReaders, tablets and the like. The numbers show digital books sales are sky-rocketing. I love shopping for my books with a click here and there. What are brick and mortar stores doing to make my experience there better than shopping while sitting at home? I don't have the answers but I wonder where booksellers will be in two or three years.
Have you been to the theater lately? Do you shop at bookstores as often as you have in the past? Do you think either of those business will still be there in five years? Ten years?