>>> Daniel Bickley <email@example.com> 04/05/96 08:52pm >>>
I read with interest Philip Fryer's comments (see "Gary, you are always so gracious...") regarding distribution,
pricing, etc. and I have several questions regarding them.
Philip: since I know for a fact that you can be every bit as gracious as
Gary Handman (at least when you try:-), I hope that you'll be willing to take the time and trouble to respond.
1. Can you elaborate on the "paradigm shift" you see coming in the nontheatrical video market in the next few
years? You cite factors related to new formats and the Web, and I wonder how you envision this?
My gut feeling is that DVD technology will make a big difference. If not that technology then the next digital medium
which provides a true multimedia environment. The other hat I wear is systems librarian here at Loyola/Notre
Dame. CD-ROM has already begun making an impact on audiovisual budgets, which may or may not be an interim
format. The era of passive viewing long foretold as ending, will be incorporated (rather than replaced) in new
visual technologies. It is hard for me to believe, but I started in this business as a film librarian. When video was
introduced it was not simply another format (with its intendant virtues and vices relative to film) it has instead
transformed our culture. We all remember when seeing a movie meant a theater, which meant many saw a dozen
films a year. Many saw fewer, a privileged few many more. Now we have Blockbusters. I do not need to
belabor this point, but it is useful to keep in mind that there is an inherent weakness in film AND video that makes
voyeurs of us all. We yearn to be participants as well.
2. (Perhaps this is the same question as above...) You mention that new strategies for distribution of independent
productions are needed. Can you mention any current strategies that you know of that might point in the direction
of the new strategies you have in mind? If not, can you elaborate on the kinds of new distribution strategies you
believe would be successful?
I wonder if the World Wide Web, with a home-page for every little company is the answer. Certainly search
engines available would have to become very sophisticated indeed for an indie cottage industry to thrive. And any
web-site requires visitors, which is a fairly passive marketing strategy for sure.
Consortium distribution seems a likely answer, if companies are willing. They may be forced. Consortium buying
certainly works. Our library is part of a small college library consortium which helps us greatly with prices from
data-base vendors, and not at all with video vendors.
On a more mundane level, some film/video companies do a poor job marketing their product. Once a year they
send us a catalog we file. End of story. If they are driven from the market-place by economic forces, and their
inventory harvested by another company, then their fate has followed a familiar business pattern.
3. You mention that "a few distributors have done very, very well." Can you cite the examples you have in mind?
Well, sure. Some obvious examples: Films for the Humanities & Sciences; The Voyager Company; Mystic Fire; PBS
Home Video. Notice I picked examples of companies (with prices affordable for many kinds of libraries) that sell
video to various markets. Also please note that I judge market penetration (as well as units sold) as the standard
for success; I am not privy to any company's bottom line - are you?
4. You say that: "We can see that the successful video/film companies have slick marketing departments. They
are to be commended for their promotion strategies." Again, could you cite a few examples of what you have in
I will not name companies here (they would blush) but certainly companies that advertise in our professional
literature; do targeted, topic-specific mailings; use the internet to announce new products; send their stuff to be
reviewed in the literature; cite their awards, etc. Oh, and throw the best parties at ALA :-)
I have a few other ideas, but they are mine for the moment :-) I hope this is seen as an honest attempt to answer
some of Dan's questions. I know there are more, which I hope others will suggest. I'm tired. I'm going to bed.
Loyola/Notre Dame Library