I was at the convenience store yesterday to get a bag of Cheetos and a 20 ounce coke. Yes, I did realize, as I fully admitted to the clerk, the 97 ounce coke was cheaper, but it won’t fit in my cup holder. See, I didn’t care about more for less, I cared about not spilling soda all over my car. While I was walking through the entire depth of the store, wondering why they ALWAYS put Cheetos way in the back, I noticed that the store did not have a copier. Before I even knew what came over me, my old copier salesmen days took over my brain - I almost started talking to the store owner about why his customers would need to make copies. Then I found my Cheetos.
I remember back in the day, all convenience stores had copiers. Actually, convenience stores were a great prospect. See, in those days, organizations or business had copiers, but the general public really didn’t for the most part. So every now and then, when you needed a copy, you’d run to the convenience store that had them, in what I refer to as the BK days – Before Kinkos – and they were usually right next to the payphone. That is pronounced PAY PHONE for you youngsters born after 1980. Interesting, now that I think about it, I don’t remember seeing a payphone in the convenience store either…
Time has a way of making things obsolete, or a product obsolesces because of market shifts, or a lack of need from its customers. The missing copier made me think back, trying to remember exactly when the copier disappeared from its carved out space by the payphone. Did the copier leave at the same time as the coin operated phone? My conclusion was - probably soon after. When you think about it, the smart phone pretty much made the copier obsolete for many of the documents that needed to be printed. And the more I think about it, what have I printed lately that was for personal use?
In the near distant future, there may even be a song about the disappearance of copiers, stealing part of its title from a song of the past. “Where have all the copiers gone?” Well one thing is for sure, the song being sung today is “Where have so many of the copiers gone?”
I guess like payphones, typewriters, pagers, CB’S with whip antennas, and for the most part fax machines, going from not seeing MANY to not seeing ANY at all, is simply a matter of time.
So with this thinking, I have decided to keep track of all the things I do not copy or print. No more airline tickets, no more receipts from ATM’S, no more flyers for the garage sale (after all, social media reaches more people), no more maps for the family vacation, no more recipes; well, I only ever printed one recipe in my life, “Cheetos Chili”, no more copies of the checks I may get; actually, I don’t remember the last time I used a check; no more, no more.. I guess you get the message.
In closing, I wonder how many pages that are not copied or printed compares to a percentage of pages that are copied and printed. Everyone in any business knows it’s all in the math, and sooner or later, the math is not on your side. In the meantime, everyone in the industry will continue counting less and less clicks, and one thing is for sure; those who still count pages printed can count on less revenue per print. What will disrupt the print industry today is the continuous decreasing in revenue and earnings associated with the current model. There simply is not enough demand to go around.
Those of you who wish I had not written this, or believe that copiers and printers will somehow scrape out a win against the evolution of technology, you should tell the convenience store manager to hire more clerks. While I was standing in line waiting to check out, I had ample time to write this on my iPhone. Disregard that I just noticed the store is currently installing self-service check out stations. Now I will simply scan my Cheetos and go. Technology is great, unless you don’t embrace it and get replaced by it.
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