Why HMV had to go

HMV is going down. It's neither sad, nor surprising. It's another high street chain that has to go. Back in the day, the big chains pushed all the independent shops out of business by undercutting them on price and providing a wider selection. Now the same thing is happening to them because all they have to offer are low prices and a wide selection. And no matter how low they will go, the Internet can go lower. No matter how many DVDs/CDs/books they will stock, the Internet will have more.
Live by the sword, die by the sword, I say.

It goes without saying that those products are most often bought these days in a non-physical form, and also often based on subscription, rather than buying individual products. And it's good, people! It's good for the planet and it's good because it provides a wider access to culture. You have no idea what Spotify has done for my musical knowledge and tastes.

On Twitter, Facebook and suchlike I see many people lamenting the demise of HMV, talking about how it was part of their childhood and adolescence. Ah, yes. You know what was part of my childhood and is gone now? My slim thighs. Oh, and communism. Sometimes you just have to let go.

So what are the remaining high street stores to do to stay in business? Think, people, think. It's so obvious. Don't try to beat the Internet on price, because you can't. You will be bled dry before you succeed. You have to give people what the Internet can't give them. You have to give them a sense of community, an experience.

Here is what you need to do if you are, say, an independent bookshop. First of all, sell coffee and cakes. And have tables, sofas and armchairs. And nice, cosy lamps. And don't give me evil looks if I hold your book in one hand and a cake in the other. It's a truth universally acknowledged that the longer a bookworm stays in a place with books the bigger the chances are he or she will end up buying something. So make sure I stay. And talk to me. Not like a salesman, but like a fellow book-lover. Reading is a solitary hobby but we're not socio-paths and a small bookshop should be a number one hangout for bookworms. Have writing groups, book clubs, etc. meet at your bookshop/cafe. They are your customers.

As for selection, as I said, you can't beat the internet on how wide your selection is but you can beat them on how careful it is. I don't want to go to a small bookshop and only see the usual suspects there. I want to find gems!

The same rules can apply to any other shop that wants to survive. No one wants to go to some big soulless store stacked with piles of products anymore. It's boring. We don't need that. I won't be sad to see them all go and eventually be replaced by something more exciting.