Mama Don’t Take My Kodachrome Away…

Will books go the way of film photography?

In the past we’ve waxed on these pages about the impending death of the printed book as its only a matter of time before the venerable print tome has gone the way of the dinosaur to decay in a landfill to form oil for our future generations. Well the later maybe poetic license, however many people have written to me on the topic and there is a clear love of the printed word as well as a fear that our global information store will be placed at risk due to rogue viruses which is a valid concern especially with cloud services becoming popular where there is only “one” copy which everyone shares.

However what does this all have to do with our friend Paul Simon and his iconoclastic song estoring the virtues of the film (yes for those over 20, remember “film”) which took us from our monochromatic existence of snapping black and white photographs of our family picnic to that of jaw dropping, eye popping vibrant color? Here Eastman Kodak shifted our paradigm which created a song which in popular culture has outlasted the product itself as after 74 years in production; “Kodachrome” was finally laid to rest. So you’re asking how do we tie the late great concepts of “Kodachrome” to that of the printed world and what will this tell of “us” as a society?

Here is where Ben Dobbin of the Associated Press steps in to help with a recent article in USA Today which surprisingly talks about “How much longer can film hold on” as wasn’t film dead already? Well sort of, and that is what makes it interesting as looking at some of Ben’s statistics we can draw parallels with the “book” world to foretell the handwriting on the wall if you will. As Mr. Dobbin points out that the following fact:

Equally startling has been the plunge in film camera sales over the last decade. Domestic purchases have tumbled from 19.7 million cameras in 2000 to 280,000 in 2009 and might dip below 100,000 this year, says Yukihiko Matsumoto, the Jackson, Mich.-based association’s chief researcher

Here we see that in the course of 9 years we’ve went from “something” of a big number being 19.7 million with an “M” units sold to only 280 thousand! Also keep in mind that 2009 was two years ago so my bet is with Matsumoto’s that 2011 would find us well under 100 thousand of production units primarily for “specialty” use. So whit this said, just who hasn’t jumped on the “digital” bandwagon swearing off the evils of “film” for a brighter future of digitally enhanced facial features?

Here again Ben has done a fine job of helping us understand how all this fits together and while not wanting to spoil it here, we have waxed about the same demography in the past when it came to the e-Reader as again to quote Mr. Dobbin’s:

Regular point-and-shoot adherents who haven’t made the switch tend be poorer or older — 55 and up

So it’s the “poor and old” which are the stalwarts here not so surprising as old doesn’t concern me so much as do the “poor” because as pointed out in the past its clear there is a “gap” forming. In the past, while not at parity the “gap” was closer in that there were practical as well as commercial means to bring “discounted” information affordably to the various social classes by sharing magazines, second hand book stores, day old news papers and the list goes on. However what happens when “information entry” is not only say a $200 e-Reader, however also the means (internet connection, subscriptions, etc) to use it?
The second piece which is unsaid in Mr. Dobbin’s story is an important one too, in that we are “connected” as to use a digital camera you need to connect it to something right? Here the level of adoption is clear and this is a critical aspect when looking into our crystal ball to fore tell our future as the tea leaves are clear…


About Joseph Campbell

As a strong believer in the fact that "people work for people", it has been a life driver to better to understand the complexities of the various aspects which drive efficiency within this axiom, especially the concepts of leadership. Supporting this, I have been fortunate enough to having experienced this as leader on a global basis over the last decade and half. During this time it has been clear there are three core drivers being Life, Leadership and Economics.
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