RE: Interesting pricing

Karen Driessen (
Fri, 3 Dec 1999 07:54:23 -0800 (PST)

I can photocopy the original brochure and mail it to you. I believe there
may be a revised version also which I am also trying to track down.

>Hello All –
>Any way I can get a copy of "Happiness is Having One Title," mentioned by
>Karen Driessen? I think I read it back in the day, but can’t find it now.
>This will be my first contribution to the discussions on this listserv. As
>some of you are aware, Karen McMillen, Fanlight’s Marketing Director and
>Distribution Manager for many years, was bitten by the production bug this
>year, and will now be making films rather than distributing them. (Those
>of you with interests in the health professions may want to check out
>leaving for perhaps greener fields.)
>So, at least while we search for a replacement, it’s been my pleasure
>(mostly) to "listen" in on these conversations. Let me say first of all
>that I would be happy (?) to hear from any of you regarding problems you
>may have with Fanlight’s catalog or website, video releases, customer
>service, or anything else. I can’t promise that we’ll make you happy, but
>we’ll try.
>Regarding the current thread on pricing, packaging, and related issues,
>I’ve got a question and a couple of comments from Fanlight’s point of view
>(I don’t want to pretend to represent any other distributors, or
>distributors in general, though I think many would support these thoughts.)
>The question is one on which I would very much welcome your input.
>QUESTION: I think I understand the issues raised about the packaging,
>unpackaging, and re-packaging of series titles, and probably agree in
>general; but let me present a situation we are currently dealing with:
>We recently had the opportunity to acquire some films produced by a
>professional organization in one of the healthcare fields. Out of their
>catalog of 4 or 5 series, we thought that only 3 titles, which happened to
>be part of one 5-part series, were up to our standards and would be of
>interest to audiences beyond this professional group. They each stand
>alone, and can be effectively used in the absence of the other films. We
>are advertising them as individual films, or as a series of three. The
>five-part series is still available from the producer (at a HIGHER
>per-video cost than ours, incidentally, since it also includes some
>professional training materials which we didn’t feel our customers would be
>interested in.) Should anyone inquire about the longer series, we will be
>happy to arrange for them to get the additional titles and materials, but
>obviously there are possibilities for confusion in this situation, and we
>would welcome your suggestions on how to handle it. We’re not out to
>mislead people, but neither are we anxious to direct potential customers to
>what is, in effect, our competitor.
>ON DIFFERENCE IN PRICING: We used to only handle films for which we were
>the sole source. With the level of production down (at least of the types
>of films we’re interested in), we find that we simply can’t be that
>exclusive any more. Currently we sub-distribute some films for which there
>is another primary distributor; we distribute some films for which there is
>no "primary" distributor, but several non-exclusive distributors; and we
>have authorized a few other distributors to sub-distribute some of our
>releases. In some of these cases there is some contractual method of
>setting or controlling prices, in others there is not. I don’t think
>you’ll find any of our sub-distributors pricing our films lower than we do,
>but I can’t guarantee it in all cases. Where we are the sub-distributor,
>there have been at least a few situations when WE found out that the
>primary distributor had lowered their price, not from them, but from an
>annoyed customer. We understand and share the annoyance, and in all cases
>have honored the lower price – then either changed our own list price to
>match, or dropped the title from our list.
>…MORE ON PRICING: There’s another category of cases in which we have
>acquired films which may have been launched into very limited, low-priced,
>distribution by the sponsoring organization – often just a one-shot mailing
>to their professional organization and/or a mention on their website. When
>we take on such films on, we frequently authorize them to continue with
>their own marketing efforts (sometimes this is a requirement of the
>original funding source) but make clear that we will need to set a higher
>price in order to justify our marketing efforts. So…there may be cases
>when an astute researcher can locate a lower-priced source for a few of our
>titles, but I’d be willing to bet that in 99.9% of those cases you would
>never have heard of the film if not through reviews we have obtained,
>festivals or conferences we have placed it in – or through our catalog or
>…AND STILL MORE: I’m not sure what to say about the extreme pricing
>differentials found by some correspondents. Please let me know if you come
>across any situations like this involving Fanlight releases. Regarding
>less extreme differences in pricing between different distributors, I
>really feel like this is comparable to other products which may have
>different prices if you buy them in a specialty boutique or a big discount
>store, from a catalog, or from two different sites on the internet.
>Different marketers have different costs and overheads. The canny shopper
>will get the best price, but may pay more in time spent looking.
>ON DATES: I well understand that media librarians and specialists, who are
>constantly monitoring and evaluating each year’s new releases, do not want
>to be mistakenly re-reviewing something they rejected years earlier. We
>have the same concern regarding programs which producers send to us for
>distribution consideration. On the other hand, a high proportion of our
>customers are not specialists, and may not be aware of films relevant to
>them until some time after their release dates. It’s been our experience
>with many of our best older titles that customers may pass over them if
>they see an older date in the catalog, but that once they preview, they
>Our present uneasy compromise – and, again, I would welcome feedback – is
>that we do NOT list dates in our catalog (nor, this year, are we including
>ISBN numbers there) but they (both) ARE listed on our website – and of
>course are available at any time by checking with our staff by
>ETC., ETC.: I was interested in some of Karen Driessen’s other comments
>about needed bibliographic information. Frankly, I don’t think there’s any
>way that much of this is going to be making its way into the limited space
>available in our catalog – but it’s possible that we could add it to the
>website, if people feel that would be useful. Given that it may not happen
>all at once, what do people feel would be the most helpful information
>(besides dates and ISBN’s) to start with?
>I’ll be glad to hear back from you.
>Ben Achtenberg
>Fanlight Productions
>Ben Achtenberg
>Fanlight Productions
>4196 Washington St, Suite 2
>Boston, MA 02131
>(800) 937-4113 / (617) 469-4999
>Fax: (617) 469-3379
Karen C. Driessen, Director Phone: 406-243-2856
Instructional Media Services (MMLAO1) FAX: 406-243-4067
32 Campus Drive #4968 E-mail:
The University of Montana
Missoula MT 59812-4968