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HMV called in the administrators on Tuesday, prompting wailing and mourning from thousands of people who hadn't set foot in one of its outlets for years. Sky News brought in Andrew Harrison, the tech-savvy editor of Q magazine, for what I suspect the editors wanted: a simple soundbite on an entire industry extrapolated from the …


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  1. Craig 2

    Mourning HMV

    I am mourning the demise of HMV, and I did go in there a lot.

    To look at, or try somethhing i'm interested in so I can order it online!

    1. Erroneous Howard

      Re: Mourning HMV

      But HMV stores were not a pleasant place to be any more - crowded, cluttered and unwelcoming.

      If I go to a store to buy it's because I want to see the product, or don't want to wait for delivery - or that I want advice or opinions. HMV didn't need to try and stick every single item they have in stock out on the sales floor, they could target specific products along with some related items on the floor, as long as they have some sort of stock checking facility which avoids having to queue at the counter.

      Music/video/gaming are leisure activities and for the most part people do them to relax so it would make sense if the environment you go to purchase them in was to reflect that.

      1. pear

        Re: Mourning HMV

        My treat for taking the bus in to work (here and there) was to go in to hmv at 9am when o one else was in there and sock up from the 2 for £10 section. Served me well.

        I went in to the trocadero one recently, managed to find the obscure ps3 accessory I needed and went out. Simply because there where too many people in there to browse properly.

        Fopp in covent Garden was ok though

        1. MrT


          ...usually had great choice, but the pricing of rare stuff was way OTT. However, I had the best bargains from them when formats were shifting, like in about 94 when all the pundits were say vinyl was dead - got loads of LPs for about £2 each. I will admit that, along with stuff like InXS, I did buy one by The Divinyls, but that was definitely for the cover... 8-)

  2. Andrew Moore


    I found the CD section (okay it was tucked in the back) but could not find the CD I wanted. Nor were there any assistants to ask (they only seem to staff the cash desks there). So I pulled out my phone and ordered it from instead.

  3. bill 36

    Bang on

    I think you are bang on the money!

    I question the whole Facebook, Twitter and social media bit though, never understood why people feel the need to use them.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ""I seldom went in with a specific purchase in mind, but always came out with piles of CDs," "

    You are so Fakebook.

    I would not dream of going shopping for the sake of shopping. Only females do such a thing!

    Most MEN, only go to a shop because they have a specific purchase in mind. (e.g. I need some socks)

    Whilst there, you would of course compare pricing and styles, but the initiator was the need for a specific item.

    WOMEN, go shopping for the sake of so called "retail therapy", not MEN.

    1. stucs201

      You're forgetting the men who are taken shopping by their women. Once that happens half and hour in HMV was a very welcome break from the endless shoes/handbags/etc.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "You're forgetting the men who are taken shopping by their women."

        There's no thumb print on my forehead.

    2. Jon Double Nice

      Oh Hai!

      Is this teh ironies?

    3. Martin
      Thumb Down

      Men also make ridiculous generalizations.

      I grant that more women shop for the sake of it. And I wouldn't personally dream of browsing round a clothes shop to see if something appeals to me. But plenty of men do.

      And one thing I DO like doing, which my wife would never consider doing, is browsing round a techy-type shop (like Maplin or PC World), or a charity shop, or a bookshop, or - yes! - a CD/DVD shop, to see what might appeal to me. So yes, I also mourn the demise of HMV.

      The shops have to become more tech-savvy, nonetheless. For example, if I go into Waterstones and see a book I like, I'd still prefer to read it on my e-reader - particularly a hardback. But if Waterstones were to include a voucher in the book which allowed me to download a copy of the e-book for free - or even for, say, 99p) - I might well buy the book in any case.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well done Martin, your observational skills are second to last!

        I did say "MOST MEN", not all!

        100% for posting before reading. Don't worry tho, you're part of the majority in the UK.

        Also, I’m not under the thumb so not dragged round by “wor lass”.

        1. Martin

          @Obviously - I DID read before posting....

          I admit you said "MOST MEN".

          But you also said - and I quote:-

          WOMEN, go shopping for the sake of so called "retail therapy", not MEN.

          Which is, without doubt, a ridiculous generalization.

          Oh - and by the way - if a man goes shopping with his wife/girlfriend, it doesn't mean that he's "under the thumb". You may not have noticed, but we're no longer living in the nineteen-fifties.

    4. Hollerith 1

      So what are they doing?

      Those men* I see puttering around Leylands when I pop in for a new drill-bit or something, they're just 'checking out' what's new or 'reviewing' the range of pliers? Or are they just browsing and poking around enjoying shopping?

      *Sorry, I meant MEN.

  5. Tom7
    Thumb Up

    Big thumbs up

    Now, what can we do about it? I don't mean "log off Facebook and get a real life, bozo." I mean, how can we reintroduce that serendipitous discovery, that infinite variation the real world offers, into the online world?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: how can we reintroduce that serendipitous discovery

      You: type in random keywords, numbers, or nonsense and see what turns up. Or Look at the catalog and scroll through all the stuff beginning with (eg) "F" - how else do you browse a book shelf or cd/dvd rack in a shop?

      Website: add a "random thing" link which throws up a random thing from the catalog. Or a list of 10 random things.

      Browsing is EASY on the internet. It's REMEMBERING to browse which is hard.

      OK, maybe only almost EASY - you can't always read a few pages of the book you just saw on the 'net, nor can you always listen to a bit of tracks 3-5 on that CD with the interesting cover. It's that temporary access for evaluation that (too often) inhibits the value of online browsing, not finding things to browse.

      I can now browse journals dating back centuries from my desk! And, increasingly, textbooks. An n-depth citation search can be done in minutes not days! It might take days to do the serendipitous browsing around those searches, but that browsing would be essentially impossible offline. Online vastly enhances my browsing - if things are indexed - and if the insides can be inspected.

  6. Mystic Megabyte

    Coming soon to a planet near you

    "we're encouraged to become a billion nation states of one."

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What do I think?

    Once again: spot on. This must be the century of the navel.

  8. Rob Davis

    Atom not pixel, moment not memory

    Great article. Perhaps the advice is to get out of the bubble and enjoy the randomness of reality more, as the title says: Atom not pixel, moment not memory

  9. Fihart

    Browsing Rules !

    So right about record retail. Since the Music Exchange in Camden raised its prices - then closed - the best places to browse, and cheap enough to risk new stuff, has been charity shops and car boot sales. As you say, online finds you what you think you already want (Amazon's suggestions are usually well off beam) but nothing beats physical browsing.

    If you have CDs gathering dust, pop them into a charity shop or flog em at a car boot.

    Though, personally, I don't know why you'd abandon the best sounding/most convenient home music medium yet invented.

  10. Silverburn
    Thumb Up

    Shopping malls

    Agree with this.

    There is the fact that most retailers are trying to ship commodity items to attract as many punters as possible, often selling the same bland things as each other with next to no difference.

    Extend this approach, and you see why in the UK there are massive malls, filled with all the same bland names, selling all the same bland stuff. Zero choice, zero differentiation, designed to conform to some marketing statistic, and the USP comes down to the "retail add ons" (ie who's coffee shop is better). All of them are struggling, because when you can get the same commodity x online.

    Witness if you will, shopping for a suit in Next. A tale of utter anonymous woeful tat it is. Pop next door to River Island, and it's the same tat, with a difference sense of woe. Down Saville Row, and things start to look up. Or indeed...different. And better. 1 Saville row for the price of 3 bland bits of cloth from Next? Bloody bargain.

    To actually attract people in, you actually need to take the risk and go for different stuff and go for more vertical markets, and actually products are genuinely unique. The "boutiques" are all doing better than the chains, ta v much.

  11. EvilGav 1
    Thumb Up

    The Failure of Digital

    It's a similar point i've espoused to a number of people with regard to digital, especially things like Kindle books - great for a specific reason (lots of books in an easy to carry format) - but try flicking through pages of a e-book (reference books especially) and it doesn't work. Since we're on an IT site, how many people have had a vague idea of what they want to do in a language, picked up a book and flicked through pages rapidly until something clicked. You cant do that with digital.

    It is in that same regard I will partially lament the passing of HMV, however the price gouging that they have done for the last 30 years eventually had to come back and haunt them. They had a choice 20 years or so ago to start cutting prices, but chose to gouge the consumer; 15 years ago the internet was a start-up online shopping area and only early adopters including myself used it. 10 years ago they could and should have had HMV online running properly.

    Doing nothing for over a decade is criminal negligence on the part of management.

    1. BigAndos

      Re: The Failure of Digital

      As much as I love my Kindle, I agree with you. It is great for reading a novel, but tasks like flicking through or even back and forth from your current page to an index or glossary, are very difficult.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: flicking through ... very difficult.

        But isn't that an interface problem relating to the device rather than an ebook problem? E.a properly indexed pdf is reasonably "flickable" even using clunky old xpdf. I dont see any reason why there shouldn't be a chapter/page sidebar on your kindle/whatever for faster navigation...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Failure of Digital

      @EvilGav 1

      At the risk of being a "me too" this is one of the most spot on things I have read this year:

      Since we're on an IT site, how many people have had a vague idea of what they want to do in a language, picked up a book and flicked through pages rapidly until something clicked. You cant do that with digital.

      I love my kindle, but I generally only read things on it I am reasonably confident I am going to like - often because I already know the author or have had the chance to flick through it at a real-world book store.

      I actively dislike reading techie type books electronically for the very reason you cite - its nearly impossible to hold it in your hands and flick through to get a very quick appreciation of what is (and isnt) going to click.

      Yes, this may all change when the interface / UIs improve but until then.... paper wins.

  12. Tom Wood

    Horses for courses

    This also links to something I was thinking about yesterday. I read the comments on a Graun article related to the horsemeat-in-burgers thing, and a surprising number of people said that they actually wouldn't mind eating horsemeat, properly labelled as such. (Just as people in lots of other countries do).

    It is perfectly legal to sell in the UK, but virtually nobody does, because retailers tend to stick to "safe" options - they sell what they think people want - and are afraid to cause controversy.

    I suppose it is a sad reflection on society as a whole - people are afraid to try new things, and sometimes organisations are even afraid to offer new things because they fear people will be afraid to try them.

    1. EvilGav 1
      Thumb Up

      Re: Horses for courses

      Very true. In the old Chas and Dave song they sang "you got more rabbit than Sainsbury's", try and actually *buy* rabbit in a supermarket and you're most likely on a hiding to nothing these days.

      1. h3

        Re: Horses for courses

        It is not that hard to buy rabbit.

  13. Schultz

    It's not the world, it's you!

    The world is changing around us, scary, but it did the same for the generation of our parents, grandparents, and that homo sapiens confronted with fire on a stick.

    But that's not a reason to be scared or fantasize about the new navel-centric world. Some people are egocentric and others are not. The human minds have always been such. As we get older, we think that the young ones are weird, because they grow up / hang out in a different world, but they still communicate and follow their (narrow-minded or broad-minded) interests. If we look around and see a scary navel-centric world developing around us, it's probably because we get old and forget how egocentric we were in our young days.

    The human mind didn't change (evolution doesn't work that fast), but we do as we grow old.

  14. Colin Millar

    A new type of peg

    The internets have learned that bashing square pegs into round holes wasn't working too well - it annoys users too much. The answer appears to be that they will remove awareness of other shaped holes.

  15. Moyra J. Bligh

    There's a huge used CD/DVD/vinyl place in Toronto called Sonic Boom. I frequently go browsing in there and find things I didn't know existed, that want to come home with me.

    When the items first come in they are simply placed in trays labeled with the date they arrived in store, so there is the constant click,click,click,click,click of people flipping through the CD and DVD cases. If items aren't bought in the first week, then they are filed in the places they belong for ease of finding.

  16. Jez Burns

    "The pioneers of social media used it to exclude opinions they didn't like - quite proudly demonstrating their intolerance and control-freakery."

    Sounds interesting but I missed that one. Could you expand on it?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But what about finding a plumber?

    I'd think Facebook's graph search could be pretty useful for vetting plumbers.

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