Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Deseret Book, Covenant, and Me

Many have probably heard by now that Deseret Book has acquired its biggest competitor, Covenant Communication, including its Seagull Book stores. The addresses above include the articles that cover the event, if you haven’t heard about it yet.

There’s been lots and lots of talk on the ‘net about it in the aftermath. Who’s the bad guy? Who’s the good guy? What will it mean?

I don’t really know the answers to any of those questions. What I see, from my little perspective, is that it indicates a big lull in the LDS artistic scene. Let me clarify.

When I got interested in LDS music again, after a long hiatus (this was back in ’99 or so), I looked around and I saw a lot of very exciting things happening. There were some incredible new albums coming out. LDS publishing was exploring many new genres, and—wonder of wonders—people were making movies! It was like the LDS popular arts were exploding. It was a pretty heady time.

Then the movies played out and trickled off. Music started slowing down. DB bought out Excel and after a time, many artists were dropped from the roster. Now the biggest competitor is also acquired.

First off, I don’t really see it as good guy/bad guy. It’s easy to point fingers at the big, bad establishment and say that they’re stomping out the little competition. But it is, after all, a business, and businesses do what they do to survive.

For me, personally, it’s not going to have a big impact directly. Neither Covenant nor Deseret was pounding on my door to start a bidding war over my recording contract. There were probably few in either office that even knew my name. Still, to me, it is sad to see happen because it indicates that the scene is down. Not as much creative output is being published or bought. The demand isn’t as high as we’d like it to be.

There could be hundreds of causes for that. Some say it’s because the quality is so poor. Others say it’s because people simply don’t know it’s there to buy. Others say it’s because the economy isn’t as strong. Whatever the reason or the combination, it shows me that things aren’t as booming as they once were.

But my sadness is tempered by the knowledge that pendulums swing, and they swing back. Things shift. Interest ebbs and flows.

It won’t impact me all that much. I’ll still keep putting out songs. I’ll still keep telling other people about the other musicians I hear.

In the meantime, go out and buy a book, or a song, or a movie. I don’t care whose it is. Just buy one and enjoy it.

Mark Hansen

1 comment:

  1. This *is* interesting. Down here in SoCAL we have few stores to choose from, and those we do have are only in Orange County or L.A. it seems. (3 hr drive -one way) If you live in the Inland Empire you are out of luck and must use a small mom and pop book store; and unfortunately the prices are high and the stock limited. (Still searching for the Backporch Believer)

    When in Utah, I always always plan trips to the books stores, searching out new things and, of course, a bargain.

    I wonder about the creativity angle also. There are the "Richard"s out there who seem to have trailed off from center of the straight and narrow, and the others who seem to recycle the same things.

    We need to pray for a renaissance.



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