This afternoon, for the first time in months, I stopped by the Best Buy in Xujiahui (which happens to be the first Best Buy in China). And, while riding an escalator to the second floor, I saw something unexpected: roughly ten racks of CDs and DVDs. Real ones, not pirated ones. And they seem to have turned up since my last visit in, I think, January.
As fans of American retail surely know, Best Buy has seriously reduced the volume of floorspace devoted to CDs and DVDs in its US stores. At one time, I think, CDs must have taken up more space than any other single item in the average Best Buy. But today, they’re hard to find, downsized by itunes and piracy.
So what on Earth makes Best Buy China think that it’s a good idea to add floor space for DVDs and CDs in a country where pirate DVD and CD shops advertise in state-owned newspapers, when it can’t sell CDs and DVDs in a country where piracy altered their floor plans? Certainly, they aren’t trying to beat the pirates on price. For example, a copy of the most recent James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, is selling for RMB 50 (US$7.31) at Best Buy (wildly cheap by US standards); meanwhile, just up the street, at a pirate DVD kiosk, the same film sells for RMB 7 ( US$1.02). A higher quality copy, complete with DVD extras, was going for RMB 12 (US$1.76). Likewise, a copy of Sheryl Crow’s most recent CD was selling at Best Buy for RMB 72 (US$10.53); at the DVD kiosk, the same CD could be purchased for RMB 5 (US$.73). Continue reading