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The times they are a'changin…

0 Robert Levine

I went to my local Borders today to kill some time while a prescription was filled. It’s a bi-level store, but I hadn’t gone downstairs since last year this time, as it was mostly CDs and it’s been a long time since I could count on finding something I wanted to listen to on a store rack.

Apparently I wasn’t alone. When I went downstairs to see if, by some chance, the sailing books were there, I found that most of the CD racks were… gone. In their place were mostly… books.

Oddly enough, the section devoted to DVDs was pretty much the same size as it was the last time I looked. But the CD section was decimated. No more Naxos display cases either.

Maybe it’s good news that the classical selections took about around 10% of the total CD inventory, although it seemed like a lot of it was “cross-over,” which is not what we use to think of as belonging next to Bach and Verdi. But seeing all those racks of CDs gone was a real gut check for someone who vividly remembers when making a recording was the most prestigious activity a musician could do except for playing at Carnegie.

The CD really is dead. Even though I’ve been predicting it for years (my mantra has been “bits trump plastic”), it still rocked me back on my heels to see that the demise of the CD didn’t even leave a smoking hole in the bookstore. It was as if the whole era of recording and making permanent artifacts of our performances had never been.

And in their place were books. I wonder how long they’ve got left.


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