Purple Motes, a blog on economics, technology, and sometimes library stuff, has an interesting post that confirms the worst fears of the classic conservative (at least at first glance). The public sector (libraries) is statistically out-performing the private sector(video rental stores). In the past 20 years, library video checkouts have increased by 340% while video store rentals have only increased by 140%. What does that mean? That’s up to the economists to decide. But according to the blog, a lot has to do with price (national average of $3.43 for commercial rentals vs. FREE library check-outs). Of course we know that you do pay for library services with tax dollars, but it’s still a lot less than you’d pay for getting videos from a commercial rental store. There are some interesting questions that beg to be asked, though:
1-What is the cultural significance of a video rental store? There are no “book rental” stores. Has the notion of renting videos become a relic of the past?
2-With more and more digital entertainment available online, maybe people just aren’t watching as many videos anymore. . .
3-Cable and network programs with higher production values and DVDs at lower cost might mean that less people are willing to fight for a copy of a new film at a rental store and more willing to just stay home and watch Deadwood, Monk, or Lost.