I have stayed out of this thread for fear that my viewpoint would be
considered either extreme or too self-serving. At the risk of alienating
both sides of the issue - librarians and suppliers - I can no longer remain
silent. Both sides have valid reasons for their expressed opinions, albeit,
some have been off point, pure rationalizations and/or clearly
self-promoting (in the case of some suppliers).
First, I want to provide my prospective. We have been exhibiting at the ALA
Conferences (and others like oriented) off and on since 1990. Prior to
that, I operated a major Video Retail store and sold various products to
other Video Retailers. We all accept the fact that the Library market and
the Retail market are entirely different, regarding pricing and other
matters. I felt I needed to let you know that I've dealt with both.
At one conference, early in my exposure to this market, I wrote an order
from a Librarian. When I totaled the order (over 800.00), I told her that
for this size order I always give a 20 percent discount and proceeded to do
so. I was shocked when she asked me not to. She indicated that a grant was
about to run out (time wise) and that she needed to spend it all or she
would have to give any remaining funds back. I asked her if she minded my
charging for shipping and handling (something else I usually waive for a
nice order). She replied, not at all, it'll help me.
While relating that incident to another supplier, he indicated that he
regularly gets calls, from librarians, at the end of a budget period saying
that the Librarian has x amount of dollars to spend before that period runs
out so that the money doesn't carry over to the next budget period, thereby
reducing the next budget by whatever amount was left over from the previous
Another incident happened at the National Media Market (at the time called
the National Film and Video Market, I think), similar to the one that
Milos, of Facets, related - I was accused of trying to upset the
_established pricing structure_ because of our low prices. He further
suggested that I raise my prices and attribute said raise to PPR. In the
interest of decency, I won't repeat my reaction or response other than to
say he was less than pleased with it.
My point? These three incidents raise questions of motivation on both the
part of librarians and suppliers, in my mind. They may also serve to
illustrate how attitudes, on both sides, can be affected.
A suggestion for Librarians, more "in your face" conversations with
suppliers, definitely on the listserv, better yet in person and at
conferences. In my early days of exhibiting I took to telling Librarians
don't be afraid to negotiate, make offers of the "take it or leave it"
type. It took me a while to realize (and appreciate) that that is in not
the nature of most Librarians.
Another suggestion, form buying groups based on like type needs, as opposed
to location. This way you can take advantage of the economies of scale and
you can find the individual in your group who is the "in your face" type
and have that person handle negotiations. I've met several, one being Bill
Stark, Director of the Caption Media Program, of The National Association
of the Deaf. He's dropped the Licensing price for NAD substantially over
the past four (4) years, as most suppliers who deal with him will attest.
I also suggest that Librarians who are motivated similarly to those I
mention above, especially those who feel they have to spend their entire
budget for a given period and then proceed to buy almost anything in order
to do so, well, a little self examination is in order.
Only one suggestion for suppliers, get your act together. Either get with
it or be without it (it being the Academic and Public Library market
sector). This suggestion is directed towards the suppliers that are guilty
as accused and you (we) all know who you are.
While I still have the courage, I need to tell you about one of my pet
peeves. I hate being referred to as a _vendor_. Conjures up images of me
standing on a NYC street corner selling bootlegs. Also appears
condescending and/or gratuitous. Much rather be referred to as a supplier
(more PC). But hey, my attitude has always been "call me anything you want
but collect" :-)
I thank everyone for putting up with me and ask that you, please, don't
hold it against me. In the event anyone thinks I'm being unreasonable,
please read the quote beneath my signature.
PS: Gary, arf arf (you asked for it :-)
PSS: Randy, get over the ALA, maybe they haven't realized that one picture
is worth a thousand words much less that there are 30 frames (pictures) per
second on video. They'll figure it out sooner or later. In the meantime,
let's all (us video people) keep up the good work and fight the valiant
fight. I, for one, love it. Anyone else?
S.I. Video Sales Group
1531 Placida Road, #3202,
PO Box 968, Englewood, FL 34295
Phone: 941-473-2601 Fax 941-473-2701
Caption Classic Movies for the Deaf
and Hard of Hearing http://www.sivideo.com/opencap.htm
"The reasonable man conforms to society's will.
The unreasonable man attempts to conform society to his will.
Therefore all progress is owed to the unreasonable man."
George Bernard Shaw