Re: [Videolib] Home use prices vs. PPR prices

From: Kim Crowley <>
Date: Fri Aug 21 2009 - 15:55:14 PDT

I would purchase some of these films for our public library collection--especially like "Killing Us Softly 3" (which we own) and "Consuming Kids." I'd love to be able to purchase more of these types of titles (and I'm thinking of some of the titles available from Bullfrog on sustainability and the environment also) our customers would love to check those out. But they also like the "Thomas the Tank" and "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and all the other popular stuff that never stays on the shelves. So unless we have some special programming, funded outside of our regular materials budget, I just can't justify an institutional prices. My 2 cents....

Kim Crowley, Director
Flathead County Library System phone: 406.758.5826
247 First Avenue East fax: 406.758.5868
Kalispell, MT. 59901-4598<>

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From: [] On Behalf Of Ben Achtenberg []
Sent: Friday, August 21, 2009 4:22 PM
Subject: Re: [Videolib] Home use prices vs. PPR prices

A good, though fairly perennial, question, Alex -- but you need to adjust your parameters a bit. You would need to sell far more than ten copies at 1/10 the price to generate the same revenue. To sell those ten copies:

 * You will have ten times the shipping costs,
 * You will have ten times the personnel costs associated with taking and fulfilling those orders -- possibly more
 * Your margin over the cost of the DVD and packaging will be far less -- even though the DVDs may be cheaper with quantity purchasing
 * You will have more returns

In order to sell ten times as many copies, you will almost certainly need to reach out beyond the usual institutional buyers, which will mean substantially increased marketing costs per sale. There are at least two possible strategies that might achieve this:

 * Direct more marketing to individual faculty, but purchases by individual teachers are more likely to be impulse buys rather than planned acquisitions, so will require repeat mailings or other contacts = greater cost per sale
 * Direct marketing to identifiably relevant segments of the general public -- possible but, believe me, you can't afford it

Here's are two strategies which could probably generate sufficient $19.95 sales to match your present institutional sales without busting your budget:

 * Find a theatrical distributor who will foot the bill for a highly advertised, widely attended, and well-reviewed national theatrical run
 * Be Ken Burns

Hang in there...

Ben Achtenberg

My question is: if we distributors who charge a higher price for institutional/educational-use begin charging a home-use price for library collections, would the number of DVDs sold match the cost difference? For example, would a DVD that costs $195 for university libraries but $19.95 for home-use *really* sell 10 times the amount if we discounted it?? At this point, at least for MEF, I dont think so.

The number of educational institutions is a finite number. And, as Jessica points out, very specific or niche titles will not be purchased by a high number of libraries, regardless of how much they cost. Many are simply not interested.

MEF in unique in that we rely almost exclusively on the sales of our films to fund future projects (we receive very few gifts from individual donors and little to no grant support). For us, a film cannot simply break even. It must continue to generate enough profit to fund films that are in production right now.

It would be great if we could sell our films for $20 or $40 bucks a pop, but I dont think it would work. Without a stroke of great luck (Obama asking all Americans to buy a copy of Consuming Kids? Oprah listing Killing Us Softly 3as one of her favorite things?!?), I cant really see us distributing the high number of DVDs that we would need to keep us alive and producing new work.

Musings on a Friday afternoon&


Ben Achtenberg / Fanlight Productions
4196 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02131
(617) 469-4999 Fax: (617) 469-3379


VIDEOLIB is intended to encourage the broad and lively discussion of issues relating to the selection, evaluation, acquisition,bibliographic control, preservation, and use of current and evolving video formats in libraries and related institutions. It is hoped that the list will serve as an effective working tool for video librarians, as well as a channel of communication between libraries,educational institutions, and video producers and distributors.
Received on Fri Aug 21 16:01:35 2009

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