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

From: Susan Albrecht <albrechs@wabash.edu>
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.

Susan

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
>future.
>
>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
x6216
albrechs@wabash.edu

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"If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice."--Neil Peart
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Received on Wed Nov 11 05:37:01 2009

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