On Sat, 4 Dec 1999, Gary Handman wrote:
> Thanks for the thoughtful comments, Milos. I think you are absolutely
> right: the issues raised in the earlier part of this discussion regarding
> relabelling and inflated pricing are substantially different from that old
> devilish discussion regarding the differences between home video/mass
> market video and independent, non-theatrical works.
> The former issues are, in some sense, more immediately troublesome--they
> have something to do with questionable business practices (in my opinion).
> The latter
> issue is a bigger one, and considerably less easy to address--it has to do
> with market economies and professional education. The old bugaboo about
> the differences between the $19.95 variety of video and the $300 variety
> of video just isn't going to go away...nor will the reluctance of public
> libraries and school libraries (and, yes, even some academic libraries) to
> shell out big bucks for video--even unique and wonderful stuff. Educating
> the profession about the reasons for these pricing differences is one
> thing; obtaining budgets sufficient to allow a venture beyond the mass
> market, and training/hiring staff who understand the differences and who
> can lobby for diverse collections is quite another.
> Gary Handman
> Media Resources Center
> Moffitt Library
> UC Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
> "You are looking into the mind of home video. It is innocent, it is aimless,
> it is determined, it is real" --Don DeLillo, Underworld
> On Sat, 4 Dec 1999, Milos Stehlik wrote:
> > Having watched this discussion from afar, I think the most interesting
> > aspect of it has been the deafening silence from all of the distributors
> > who subscribe to this list.
> > On the other hand, the discussions show how much the idea of home video
> > pricing has pervaded the video library screne. If you can buy a feature film for
> > $14.95 - a film in which there are presumably PAID actors, why -
> > why ideed, should you pay $300 for an educational "documentary"
> > with some archival footage, a few head shots and a narrator?
> > I do think that some issues are getting confused. This discussion
> > started with a question of over-pricing: taking a title which is a home
> > video title, like Woman in the Dunes and artificially inflating its
> > suggested manufacturers' retail price. That, indeed, is the same
> > as going to a grocery store and paying an inflated price for the identical
> > loaf of bread (apologies to Teshigahara).
> > This, however, is substantially DIFFERENT from a nontheatrical video
> > distributor (who probably used to distribute 16mm at one time for
> > those old enough to remember) who always prices releases at a price
> > substantially higher than home video (in the several hundreds of
> > dollars per title range).
> > Ostensibly, what you are getting are some rights not available with
> > home video - public performance, perhaps the right to make a
> > backup copy. This higher-tiered pricing has always been consistent.
> > But yes, otherwise, a cassette is a cassette is a cassette.
> > In the early days of video, having sat through many agonizing meetings
> > and conferences on the part of filmmakers and distributors over how
> > home video technology was going to destroy the educational video market,
> > the argument offered was that titles with primarily an educational focus
> > were never going to gain a sufficient enough market share if the price
> > were lowered to justify lowering the price to a home video price ($20-$80)
> > level.
> > I do think that these educational distributors were, in retrospect, correct.
> > Though virtually every public library has some video, let's face it, the
> > majority of it (just look at the Baker and Taylor best-seller list) is either
> > Hollywood theatrical, how-to, or education-lite (PBS spin-off).
> > Has video spending by libraries increased substantially? I don't think
> > anyone (ALA?) is even actively capturing such data.
> > Now we stand at pretty much the same place we stood 15 years ago,
> > except that the borders have blurred. If a Ken Burns tape sells for $19.95,
> > why should another Civil War documentary (probably with lower production
> > values) cost $300? This issue is confused even more by distirbutors
> > like New Yorker and others, who have both home video divisions and
> > '"educational" divisions, selling titles at two different price levels. Yet the
> > distributor who IS charging $300 may not be trying to "ripoff"
> > the market. The channels of home video distribution and educational
> > distribution are quite different, with very different economics. And perhaps
> > the content of his civil war title will never make it a mass-market item
> > because it is not "branded" with Ken Burns, PBS or some other middle-brow
> > seal of approval.
> > On top of it, there is the issue of new technology. This is always greeted
> > like salvation (If we all keep our addresses in a PalmTop instead of a
> > Rolodex, we will indeed be happier and more fulfilled). DVD is the newest
> > white knight. Yet I think that every new technology, by aiming at the mass
> > market, presents the greatest challenges for those titles which are, by
> > their very nature, specialty -- and NOT mass market. The issue is cost.
> > How many 16mm titles never made it to the video is an issue multiplied
> > by how many video titles will never make it to the DVD, both because of
> > 'the still-high mastering cost, and because of the lack of additional
> > materials. These titles will simply disappear.
> > Because 99% of the 40,000 + titles which Facets carries are in the home
> > video price range, these observations are offered as an outside observer,
> > not as someone who has an ax to grind for high video prices - quite the
> > contrary. In the early days of video, I was once publicly accused of
> > trying to "strangle" a certain video distirbutor because Facets "dared"
> > 'to sell a tape (not the same tape, at that) at $29.95.
> > The problem is the marketplace. We are the marketplace, yet that
> > marketplace now is very confused, because there are marketers on the
> > web selling videos at greater discounts, whose real agenda is stock value
> > and using stock holders money to subsidize the losses, not solvency.
> > But we, as a marketplace, have certainly not grown enough to allow - as
> > an example - an ethnographic documentary - to sell more than a
> > handful of copies a year in a nation of 17,000 libraries and more than
> > a hundred thousand schools -- and there is the dilemma.
> > The issues, in the past 15 years, have not become clarified, just, it seems,
> > even more obscured.
> > Milos Stehlik
> > Facets Video
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: LaRoi Lawton [SMTP:LRL@bcc.cuny.edu]
> > Sent: Saturday, December 04, 1999 8:18 AM
> > To: Multiple recipients of list
> > Subject: Re: Interesting prices
> > Dear Fellow ViLibs:
> > As the media specialist at a community college in New York, pricing has
> > been an ongoing problem for me and my small and sometimes phantom budget for
> > many years. The pricing has been outrageous but I am of the opinion that
> > until colleges, and universities nationwide band together to make a formal
> > protest to those who dictate these prices, the problems will only get worse.
> > Often I have to weigh cost, versus student/faculty need with the price of
> > much of the material that is out there. While we have an extensive vendor
> > catalog, shopping around for a half-way decent price for any AV material is
> > a time-consuming process and requires more than one person. Many vendors
> > realize this what they don't make in a purchase from one entity, they will
> > from another. So no, WE are not alone with this gripe.
> > Maybe through this forum, we may be able to do something about it.
> > LaRoi Lawton, Director
> > Sage Learning Center
> > Bronx Community College
> > Bronx, New York 10453
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
> > To: Laroi Lawton <Laroi Lawton>
> > Date: Friday, December 03, 1999 3:31 PM
> > Subject: Interesting prices
> > >I just had a chance to read my e-mail after being on vacation for several
> > >days. I agree with everything that has been said about the prices. And
> > >while we're talking about prices, I have a few other problems. I buy
> > videos
> > >for a medium sized public library, and most of our titles are
> > >informational/instructional. My question is - how are some of these prices
> > >decided? I mean, there are prices on videos anywhere from $150 to $300 for
> > >videos that are not even 30 minutes long. I understand that the makers and
> > >actors and distributers have to make a profit. I understand about public
> > >performance rights. But still, who buys these? Wouldn't they sell more if
> > >the prices were lower? I certainly can't afford this, if only for good
> > >patron relations. I don't want to tell a patron that since his/her tape
> > >player ate our video, they are out $200. And as far as public performance
> > >rights go, I rarely order tapes with these. Yes, we have teachers checking
> > >them out, but my understanding of copyright law is that if the film is used
> > >in conjunction with the curriculum, you don't need public performance
> > >rights. Or have I been wrong all these years? Or are these problems noone
> > >else has, and I have been struggling with these issues for no reason? Just
> > >a little venting, you know. I am about to do some preliminary selection
> > for
> > >our next year's order, and I am facing checking all these titles in a
> > myriad
> > >of databases from various vendors.
> > >
> > >Becky Tatar
> > >Unit Head, Periodicals/Audiovisual
> > >Aurora Public Library
> > >1 E. Benton Street
> > >Aurora, IL 60505
> > >630/264-4100 x 4116
> > >630/896-3209 FAX
> > >www.aurora.lib.il.us
> > >