Pricing yourself out of the market

Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride is a Canadian documentary by Bob Christie (trailer). It’s rather obscure, but so is any gay or lesbian documentary that isn’t The Times of Harvey Milk.

Of course I suggested the library buy it. It appeared to be impossible to purchase in commercial quantities. But in show business, “no” means “maybe.” So I mailed the director, which went nowhere. Then I sent a message on Facebook, which eventually put us in touch via E-mail.

And here are the terms of sale Christie proposed (not initially clear on the fact that I was not the library):

I would sell you the first copy for $150 and each additional one at $10. That would be $150 + 190 = $340 + HST + $20 shipping. I would even include Blu-Ray should you want to host a [screening]…. I have enough copies so I could ship this anytime.

He wouldn’t budge. “Libraries that purchase copies for loan to multiple viewers are quite used to paying prices that reflect and include an licence agreement appropriate to their institution, oftentimes hundreds of dollars.” Yes, I told him (using inside knowledge I didn’t tell him I had), the library pays institutional rates for things like magazine subscriptions, but not for (small Canadian) documentaries. In fact, look closely at a lot of the NFB documentaries in the library’s collection. They’re often DVD-Rs burned in small quantities; sometimes the library has exactly one copy. (I know there are outlier cases. Glenn Gould on Television lists for 90 bucks, for example.)

Obviously I’m not going to resubmit my suggestion under these terms. Instead of netting, say, $30 a copy for a likely six to 15 copies, Christie walks away with nothing.

Did you know the only public library that actually stocks this movie is Vancouver’s? A few university libraries also do, even down in Guadeloupe, but the biggest city in Canada, the busiest public library anywhere, is shit out of luck.

Your move, Bob.

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