collage videoI received the news via the Video Fitness forum I visit, that Collage Video, a pioneer in the home exercise market, is closing after more than 20 years in business. One message board poster spoke with a rep who said that management made the decision because they felt they could no longer compete with the ‘larger companies.’

My virtual friends in this niche community are, of course, devastated by the closure—for sentimental reasons. Many got their fitness start purchasing from this company, and enjoyed receiving their quarterly glossy catalogues, watching the preview clips they posted with every title, and reading the reviews and comments.

But, as with the bookstore closures the book community has seen in recent years for much the same reasons, the feelings are largely sentimental. Several posters remarked that, sad though the news was, they had to confess they don’t really shop there anymore. A sampling of the comments:

“I am going to place one final order with them…just saying thank you for the years of great service. I probably ordered from Mary more, but have never had any issues with Collage, it’s a shame to see this happen.”

“I am so sad. I really depend on their reviews….it is also true that I haven’t ordered from them as much as I once did so I am partly to blame for this loss.”

“Up until about a year or so ago, their prices were not at all competitive with other sellers, and they sold everything full price. Something had to give.”

“I can’t say that I’m surprised, as it must be really hard to compete with Amazon. It is very sad to lose all the extra services Collage provided us.”

Like the book market, it’s easy to blame Amazon. But there was at least one other indie competitor (the mentioned-above Mary, whom several other posters admitted they shop from) and there was also a shift toward digital media as well. Jessica Smith, the Hugh Howey of the exercise video world, has attracted a huge following amongst this crowd by offering all her videos, in rough cut form, for free on YouTube and then selling the more polished DVD or download copies off her extremely comprehensive website.

Even established names are getting into the streaming game. Lionsgate, the producer of such luminaries as Denise Austin and Jillian Michaels, routinely posts full-length routines on YouTube for free (usually the first workout off a multi-workout DVD). I feel Collage Video’s pain, but I have to admit, it’s hard to compete with the instant gratification of streaming, and even harder to compete with the price gratification of ‘free.’

Like many others who posted in the goodbye thread, I will look back on Collage Video with fond nostalgia—at the same time I freely admit I didn’t really shop there much anymore. Most of the workouts I do are from instructors who are easy enough to find without the need for a specialty store, and the download-only model definitely has some appeal for me when I’m ready for some new stuff.

Book, video, DVD—I think all media companies are facing these same struggles these days. It’s not just about Evil Amazon Gobbling Up the World, either! Collage Video is closing in part due to competition—yes, from Amazon, but also other retailers—and in part because people simply aren’t using that kind of product, or store model, anymore. Things change, and that is simply the way of things.