Don't write off physical too early, trade warned

Don't write off physical too early, trade warned

Publishers should not be too quick to write off physical products and should encourage competition between a number of digital players to avoid the mistakes the record industry made, the director general of the Entertainment Retailers Association has said.

Kim Bayley gave a presentation to more than 100 indies at the Booksellers Association’s Independent Booksellers Forum conference in Coventry on Monday (26th September) and discussed the Record Store Day initiative. Record companies provide independent stores with exclusive products, mostly vinyl albums and singles, created especially for the day. It is now in its third year, and 180 stores took part in 2011.

The number of independent record stores has plummeted from more than 700 in 2005 to just under 300 in 2010, as customers have shifted more to digital. Bayley said there were parallels with the digital changes the book trade is experiencing. She told The Bookseller: "The music industry probably got it completely wrong and is fighting a losing battle. The danger is for the publishing industry to write off physical products too early. It was the music industry who decided it was not going to produce CD singles any more so it just stopped. And now it’s iTunes that dominates that market."

She said publishers had to encourage competition between retailers in the growing digital market, as once it has fully established "it is very hard to introduce new players of note".

If booksellers and publishers were to adapt Record Store Day for the trade, it would be a way of selling limited edition products at full price and making them valuable. She said: "Where the music industry went wrong is it has almost devalued the price of CDs, and made them cheaper and cheaper."