Chip Taylor Communications, for instance, will charge you $175-$350 for
a half-hour or an hour's worth of video. It doesn't really matter whether
the tape is a social documentary or a how-to on mountain biking. Other
companies--say Medcom, for instance--will make really good medical videos
and charge $19.95-$24.95 per title. It's not at all uncommon in "Video
Librarian" for one of us to review a pair of titles on the same subject,
one priced at $19.95, the other at $250.
The bummer in all of this, is that there are a number of really
outstanding independent documentaries that do cost an arm and a leg (and
a bit of torso) which--because of the often focused nature of the subject
matter--won't find a large audience and therefore can't return an
investment priced in the $19.95-$29.95 range.
I wish there were a simple solution to all of this, especially since
book-buyers by and large don't have to deal with the huge inequities in
price that video buyers face (a John Updike novel and a John Gresham
novel both cost the same).
The unfortunate reality is that filmmaking is a much more
capital-intensive endeavour than novel writing. However, if the video
buying community were large enough, it's possible that producers could
reduce their prices enough to be able to give both public and academic
libraries a reasonable break.
What's important to keep in mind--especially for people who read about
expensive films they can't afford and think they are missing out--price
and quality have nothing to do with one another. I've watched numerous
films priced anywhere from $300-$500 that were shoddy both production and
Anyway, wherever Bowker's average came from, I doubt it takes into
account the number of copies sold. Sure there are lots of titles priced
at $500, and many more priced at $19.95. The former sell in the hundreds,
the latter sell in the millions. When you factor in the number of videos
actually sold, my guess is that the "average price" drops much closer to
$30 per video, or less.
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