Letter to Denise Brown re: London Public Library Comments

Hello Denise,

I am a resident of Ward 11 and am concerned about remarks that have been attributed to you in today’s London Free Press regarding Library service.

Quoting: “The library has cost jobs in this city. They have first-run movies and Rogers and Blockbuster have gone out of business”.

I’m not terribly knowledgable in this sector but knew immediately that this statement was not representative of the actual state of the industry. I spent 15 minutes doing a bit of digging and have summarized my findings below.

I started by looking for the latest “blockbuster” release and came up with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. I’m sure you’ve been to a large rental chain in the past and know that a typical store would carry 15-25 copies of such a DVD (estimating 8-12 stores across London that could be upwards of 300 copies per chain). Doing a simple search on the London Public Library’s website I see that they have 22 copies of the film in the entire city with 444 people on the wait list (source: London Public Library).

I worked in an independant video store 25 years ago that was eventually put out of business by Blockbuster. Back then VHS was the medium of choice but what most people don’t know is that those tapes were prohibitively expensive to own (video ownership wasn’t really in our vocabulary). This was the golden era of Blockbuster, expensive media that the public could only access through rental. The advent of inexpensive VHS and DVDs have decimated that market. It’s not unusual to find homes with 100+ purchased DVDs. This is a radically different economic environment.

The final nail in the coffin of these services was the advent of Netflix home DVD delivery and more recently their Internet streaming offering (<a href=” http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-03-01/tech/30045214_1_netflix-blockb…“>see this article and infographic).

Convenience rules in this market. Being last in a queue of 444 is decidedly inconvenient and people with enough money will shell out the money to use another delivery mechanism like Netflix.

However, services like Netflix are in no way affordable to low income Londoners they require a monthly fee ($8 or more) and a premium Internet service (add $10-20/month on top of basic Internet fees).

All of the facts that I’m seeing regarding the demise of the video rental industry point to commoditization and the advance of the internet.

I’m all for a goal of 0% but only after thoughtful deliberation and that is not what was demonstrated today. I would beg that you consider your words more carefully in the future when representing our ward and our city.

Shawn Adamsson
Ward 11 Resident