I'm neither a public nor an academic librarian, but most of our customers
are public libraries, and I have contacted several of our vendors about
cover art, explaining that in open stacks environments and browsing
collections--basically our entire market--cover art is crucial for
circulation. And in most cases if a program doesn't circulate there's much
less reason to acquire it.
Smaller vendors have in the past cited cost as a major problem in this area,
but most of them now tend to offer some kind of cover art, even if it
appears to have been created on a pc. Nothing wrong with that, in fact the
"homemade" feel often enhances the appeal of some programs. As far as larger
vendors, for the past few years the most notable offender as far as offering
VHS and DVD product we offer without cover art has probably been A&E.
Representatives of A&E with whom I've raised the issue have been aware of
the problem, but until lately unable to do anything about it. At ALA in
Chicago I was informed that they're bringing back cover art as a regular
feature of their packaging. Our sales figures for A&E product reflect the
reluctance of librarians to order video recordings without cover art, so
we're hoping this will turn things around. Few of our other vendors have
gone down the no cover art path, but then our sector of the market isn't the
part with the $100+ prices per title. Perhaps producers of videos like the
"respected vendor [of] award-winning nonfiction DVD[s]" to whom Mike B. made
reference feel that the quality and uniqueness of their programs should
outweigh packaging concerns. If so, in a large part of the library market, I
think they're wrong. I'd buy a great program without good cover art, but
then I don't have to worry about my personal collection circulating.
Now how about that relatively large vendor of videos that refuses to put
copyright or production dates anywhere on most of its products? I've pointed
out to them that it doesn't make anything look younger because when a
cataloging record for the title goes into OCLC, it'll have a date assigned,
many libraries will use that record and, therefore, that date, and the
cataloger assigning that date may be a curmudgeon like me.
Quality Books Inc.
The Best of America's Independent Presses
From: Mike Boedicker [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2005 2:59 PM
Subject: [Videolib] No cover art/plain packaging on videos & DVDs
Has anyone ever complained to vendors that do not supply cover art, or only
provide generic packaging? If you received an answer, what were the reasons
offered? I'm especially interested in hearing from public librarians or
academic librarians who have open media stacks.
>From a respected vendor I recently received an award-winning nonfiction
that did not include cover art (it came in a plain jewel case, nothing
else). I emailed requesting cover art, or promotional material that could
be fashioned into cover art, but haven't heard back. This is the second
time we've ordered from them and may be the last -- not because of their
programs, which are excellent, but because of the plain packaging. The
first order didn't include cover art either, yet their catalog and website
do not mention this fact. I wonder what we can do to convince vendors that
cover art is extremely important in browsing collections -- that the best
program in the world will gather dust if it's packaged in a plain box.
Whatever cover art we're forced to create ourselves looks like what it is --
homemade -- and is a disservice to the program. Unfortunately, people
really do judge a book by its cover.
Some vendors (notably cable channels) say they do not offer cover art
because their biggest market is individuals. What bugs me about the above
case is that the vendor primarily serves the library market, and even offers
special pricing for public libraries. Yet even their special pricing is
almost $100 per program, for which I could buy 5 high-quality PBS programs
that INCLUDE attractive cover art...
Audiovisual Director & Webmaster
Danville Public Library
319 N. Vermilion, Danville, IL 61832
(217) 477-5223 ext. 123 / Fax: (217) 477-5230
Library site: http://www.danville.lib.il.us
Personal site: http://www.boedicker.net
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