In front of me I have a CD of The Joshua Tree, U2’s fifth studio album, and one of the greatest Irish cultural achievements of the 20th century – something that helped propel Ireland from the fringes of Europe to the global mainstream.
I am not sure when I bought the CD (to replace the vinyl from 1987), perhaps ten years ago, perhaps further back. One thing I do know, and which I noticed tonight, is what it cost – £13.99 – because the HMV price sticker is still there.
According the all items RPI there has been a general 33% inflation between March 2001 and February 2011, so the “real terms” price was a whopping £18.60: can you imagine paying that for a CD (assuming you buy them at all) these days?
The price has effectively more than halved and I see no sign that this is likely to stop: Walter Benjamin‘s essay on The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction spoke a more profound truth than even he could have imagined, for both good and ill. The internet revolution is real and it is not going to stop.
The era of super abundance for information is close.