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Theodore Bergquist Headshot

Books & Games Following Music's Lead

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Apple's new iPad made headlines around the globe when it was revealed last month, and after the dust settled, techies have decided that it falls somewhere between an e-Reader and a tablet-style netbook computer. Whether or not customers will line up around the block on launch day remains to be seen, but there's one indisputable fact that ensures this iPad (or its next iteration) will find its way into millions of homes - it's an Apple product. Once a granola-chomping upstart, the company has grown tremendously throughout the 2000s, thanks in large part to the iPhone and iPod. The iPod seemed ritzy and superfluous when it debuted in 2001, and yet this little gadget has completely revolutionized the way we consume music.

The compact disk market is all but on its last legs, and book stores may be next in line. While this sounds shocking, consider this - for the first time in history, Amazon sold more Kindle digital books than it did paper ones (on Christmas Day, 2009). The Kindle was the most requested/most gifted item on Amazon.com, a site that offers basically everything and is the first place many consumers consult when shopping online. There are 400,000 titles available, and the devices are selling like hotcakes. Amazon sold over 500,000 Kindles in 2009, and if they had not run out around Thanksgiving, experts estimate they could have shipped three-quarters of a million of the e-Readers. For reference, Amazon is outpacing early iPod sales by a rate of 32%.

In short, consumers are hungry for digital content, and are increasingly willing to spend their hard-earned dollars on the intangible - content like music, movies, books and, ahem, video games. But the question remains - do digital downloads spell the end of retail game sales? A recent Wall Street Journal article states that the shift toward digital content is happening slowly but surely, and points to bandwidth as the primary stumbling block. PC gamers are already accustomed to downloading full titles, but on the console front, it's largely restricted to DLC and bite-size games. However, as more gamers get high speed internet access, the convenience of downloading a blockbuster title on its release day will be impossible to resist. When it comes to the digital future, music has already made the transition, literature is on its way and gaming is not far behind. Though brick-and-mortar retailers won't go out without a fight, in the tech-focused gaming realm, this shift toward digital content is inevitable.

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