Tower of Song


My friend Patrick has posted an eloquent eulogy for Tower Records over at his site.

Tower was done in by many factors — the rise of the big-box retailer, Internet retailing — but, in my opinion, their basic problem was that the discs were simply too expensive. $18.98 for a CD is, let’s face it, a lot of money, particularly when you can get the biggest sellers at Best Buy or Walmart (or, indeed, the iTunes Store) for $9.99. You can get away with charging twice as much as your competitors when you’re selling a product that’s worth twice as much as your competitors; just ask the Mandarin Oriental. Unfortunately, that Nickleback CD does not magically become worth twice as much just because it’s sitting in a rack in a Tower Records instead of a rack at Circuit City.

It’s true that the Internet is the world’s largest music store, with an inventory that dwarfs what any physical location can provide. But there’s still the wonderful feeling of just wandering through a place stuffed with rarities and obscurities (some deservedly so; others less so), the sense of incipient serendipity; the idea that right around the corner will be music that will blow your mind; you just have to find it. After all, sometimes you don’t know that you’re looking for something until you find it.


Some day Amazon will figure out a way to induce more serendipitous browsing and it will be good for all of us. I just hope they don't patent it.

Was just at Tower tonight. It was kind of weird, looking for things and then putting them back, because even with the discount, they still cost too much.

The one here had a used cd/dvd section, so that was a big draw for me. Sometimes I'd pick up a new release because it was on sale for the first week. I usually look for items in used shops or shop online, but I liked spending a free evening browsing at Tower. Our only options now are either the used shops or big boxes like Borders or Barnes & Noble, the latter of which aren't the equivalent of Tower. Yet much as I liked going to Tower, buying a cd for almost $20 was just not going to happen.

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This page contains a single entry by Paul published on November 3, 2006 11:32 PM.

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