Uncategorized | July 21, 2015
Everything Old is New Again: What the Publishing World Can Learn from the Rediscovered Love of Vinyl
By Kristine Somerville
“Don’t throw the past away
You might need it some rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again”
I recalled the lyrics of Peter Allen’s song the other day when I was in Vinyl Renaissance looking for a few LPs for our up-coming summer launch party at the Vault, a downtown bar. In celebration of the issue’s theme, “Defy,” I decided to go with a rock ‘n’ roll theme and bought one of those all-in-one record players, inviting everyone to bring their favorite albums. At our editorial meeting I told our interns to bring a few LPS, too.
“You know what those are, don’t you?” I cracked.
The students looked at me crossly. Evidently many of them have extensive record collections. I was not aware of the extent of the renaissance in vinyl. The numbers are astounding. According to a recent Wall Street Journal Article, “The Biggest Comeback of 2014: Vinyl Records,” over 8 million vinyl records were sold in 2014. Fifteen factories in the country that still press records are struggling to keep up with the demand that promises to surge by 49% in 2015.
I chatted with the record store owner. “You really have your finger on the pulse,” I said, meaning it. I never would have guessed that young people would fall in love with the feel of placing the needle in the groove of a record and even notice the superior sound quality it delivers.
He told me how his wife had at first thought he was crazy. Now she recognizes his genius. The store is doing great. The real challenge is finding enough inventory.
While flipping through the bins of records I once owned and discarded, I pondered then and later over dinner with my husband whether the publishing industry could learn a thing or two from the resurgence of vinyl. We wondered whether some literary magazines were too quick to do away with the print version and become exclusively on-line. Have there been too many fierce and ferocious fights over the e-books rights? Have people packed up and dispensed with their books in favor of scrolling through the electronic pages on Kindle? It doesn’t take a clairvoyant to predict that eBooks will never make print books obsolete. According to Claire Fallon’s piece in the Huffington Post, print books outsold eBooks in the first half of 2014, with hardcovers and paperbacks making up 67% of book sales. So perhaps the tide is already turning. Like vinyl, hardbacks are making a comeback.
So I guess I would say, think before you toss. I left Vinyl Renaissance having spent $25 on records I used to own, though I felt rather hip walking down the street with the albums tucked in the crook of my arm.
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