Re: [Videolib] A meditation on indie vdeo pricing in an age of fiscal apocalypse

From: Susan Albrecht <>
Date: Wed Nov 11 2009 - 05:40:02 PST

Perfectly stated, Gary. (Clearly, that drink & night's sleep did
their work.) I wish there was something else to say, but is there
much to add, really? Maybe we need a supply & demand economist,
ready to help us find that magic equillibrium price
point.... Seriously, this just sucks for everyone -- buyer,
producer, distributor, and patron who may now not be able to discover
what s/he might previously have discovered in our library collections.


At 06:35 PM 11/10/2009, you wrote:
>Hi all
>I've been mulling over the spate of recent posts re tiered pricing, etc.
>Mulling and stewing (sorta sounds like holiday dinner, don't it?) In any
>case, I had a long and rambling post all ready to go yesterday, then
>pulled my punches, went home, had a drink, slept on it, and now I think
>I'm ready to put this out again for discussion.
>Over the course of the 25 years or so I've been doing this job, I've
>consistently stood firmly and vocally behind the pricing structures
>(including tiered pricing) of our friends in indie filmmaking and film
>distribution--the $200 to $400 sticker prices that have become common for
>the purchase of their wares by higher ed institutions. Like my colleagues
>in other libraries, I've paid these prices because, well, to quote Woody
>Allen, "We need the eggs." In other words, my colleagues and I have
>coughed up because: a) we understand the fiscal travails and the slim
>profits of indie film distribution b) we esteem the films being sold in
>this market and realize that diverse collections depend on the vitality of
>the makers and distributors of this stuff c) we've had budgets which, to a
>greater or lesser extent, have afforded us the luxury of buying non-mass
>marketed titles.
>Fast forward to 2009...Not to beat an already hemorrhaging horse, but, for
>those of us in higher ed, the woods are burning, and (to mix metaphors
>shamelessly) the center can no longer hold (things, in other words, are
>falling apart). My budget this year took a 25% cut; I no longer have a
>supplies and equipment budget of any kind (not to mention the fact that
>I've been furloughed for 21 days). We've been promised that next year
>will be even worse. Now, California is an extreme case (as always), but
>not totally unique, by any means. I think that most of my colleagues in
>academic libraries are in roughly the same position in terms of dwindling
>collection budgets...
>In this fiscal climate, it seems to me that survival on both the buyer and
>seller ends of things is going to require some serious rethinking of the
>pricing and marketing models that have been in place since the inception
>of home video technologies. The "all-the-particular-market-will-bear"
>strategy may very well be a coffin nail for indie distributors in the
>I have most definitely had to think twice about buying the kinds of stuff
>that I wouldn't have blinked about buying in the past...and, as much as it
>pains me to the quick to have to bargain shop, home video is looking more
>and more attractive. Again...I think we're definitely not in business as
>usual territory any longer, Toto. As stewards of strapped collection
>budgets, I think we're all forced to be more hard-nosed and realistic
>about the relative short- and long-term value of what we're buying for
>these collections.
>It occurs to me that a number of distributors I know out there have, in
>fact, recranked prices, sought out home video markets, tried other pricing
>structures. It's obvious to me, in any case, that historical models just
>don't cut it in a lot of ways. Is it justifiable to charge $300 for a
>title that's been in a distributor's catalog for 10 years...I personally
>think not. In this climate, am I justified in buying $300-a-pop materials
>"just in case" they may be used by teachers and scholars sometime down the
>road...I'm no longer sure. Can I continue to simply grin and bear the
>fact that public libraries are charged a third of what I pay, particularly
>when this pricing is built almost exclusively on the perception that I
>have the dough and they don't...well, no, I can't.
>I find it really odious to have to bring this stuff up. I am an enormous
>fan of the distributors that I deal with daily and want to see them live
>long and prosper... On the other hand...
>Gary Handman

Susan Albrecht
Acquisitions Manager
Wabash College Lilly Library
Crawfordsville, IN

"If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice."--Neil Peart

VIDEOLIB is intended to encourage the broad and lively discussion of issues relating to the selection, evaluation, acquisition,bibliographic control, preservation, and use of current and evolving video formats in libraries and related institutions. It is hoped that the list will serve as an effective working tool for video librarians, as well as a channel of communication between libraries,educational institutions, and video producers and distributors.
Received on Wed Nov 11 05:37:01 2009

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