RE: Sell-through videos

Steve Bliss (
Sun, 21 Jan 1996 13:13:02 -0600

>It's easy to be smug and tell a fellow librarian to check Walmart
>for Indian in the Cupboard. But, let's take a look at the real problem!
>We are no longer getting pre-order information on sell-through videos.
>I started noticing this problem last year and had an entire one page list
>of them. Walmart does get them before we even get ordering information.
>Any comments or suggestions? I've talked about this to my main sales reps
>and they have no solution.
>Carol Dunn
>AV Librarian
>Findlay-Hancock County Public Library

>Actually, I wasn't being all that smug. Well, maybe a little. It was a very
>stressful day here in our busy, medium-size public library. I can't tell you
>how many times I've purchsed videos from B&T, only to find them discounted
>even lower at - you guessed it - Wally World. I've been buying videos ever
>since they first hit the market, and when even the big library jobbers can't
>compete - it's time to take another look at what we're doing and HOW we're
>doing it! I also disagree about pre-release information. B&T puts out all
>kinds of pre-street date info, but I guarantee, it will probably be on the
>shelves at Wal-Mart, and cheaper, before you get your copy in the mail. And
>what's the big deal anyway! A title like "Indian in the Cupboard" will be
>in just about every home in America that has a kid in it. I wouldn't mind
>owning it myself. The point is, we don't and can't compete with the video
>stores, or even the retail stores! So our patrons have to wait a little while
>before they can check out certain titles - that's the real world. If you
>want it FAST - and sometimes cheaper - check out your local discount stores.
>Mary Gontarek
>Owatonna Public Library
>Owatonna, Minnesota
Some interesting comments representing differing views of this issue from
librarians. Allow me to pipe in with my two cents worth from the supply
side, having managed B&T's video/audio marketing for 5 years and Facets'
before that.

Major retailers such as Wal-Mart put tremendous pressure on the major
studios as well as distributors such as B&T and Ingram to put hit titles on
the shelves before anyone else. Their purchasing clout is such that these
suppliers (many buy directly from the studios) are eager to please them,
even at the expense of pricing and street date issues. As much as the video
industry continues to squawk about the sanctity of their release dates,
they're not going to risk losing 500,000-piece opening orders from major
retail accounts. Video is also a popular "loss leader" for these types of
retailers, especially on major releases like new Disney animated features.
If a library can purchase these sorts of titles from these outlets, perhaps
they should. To illustrate: even though I enjoyed a substantial discount as
a B&T employee, I still got a better price at Wal-Mart or Best Buy!

However, it's the latter part of the discussion as expressed by Ms. Gontarek
that I find interesting. These sorts of titles will be in plentiful supply
at many locations at low prices; how is it for a library to provide them to
their patrons at the same time? The issue of whether library video
collections should compete with video stores or offer an alternative to the
selection found there is not a new one. As librarians are the best judges of
their own patrons' needs, I wouldn't expect a clear-cut answer to this
question. However, as most of the vendors in these newsgroups represent
programming outside the mainstream of Hollywood feature films, it's clear on
what side of the issue our sympathies lie.

Steve Bliss 800-826-3456 x385
Public Media Home Video 312-878-8406 (fax)
5547 N. Ravenswood Avenue
Chicago, IL 60640