I’m no longer going to take international orders.
This is not a light decision. International orders are half my sales. But I have to do it.
So, here’s what’s been happening on the back end for a while: people order one of my documentaries, GET LAMP or the BBS Documentary. About once a week, when I have time, I ingest all the orders, print out labels, put them on packaged boxes for the documentaries. If they’re domestics, that is, US-bound, then I have a nice stack of them in a box ready to go.
If they’re internationals, well, depends. If it was a couple months ago, I would fill out a relatively simple form, a one pager, that stuck to the box as well. I could print out the label for myself and the recipient, fill out a couple blank spots, and then it was done. I would then take these two sets to the post office locally, where I’ve built up a nice relationship with the gang, even waiting to the side if the lines are long, and then sending out my own set when the place would die down. Out it goes, everyone’s happy.
I knew I was on borrowed time with that simple green form – my post office buddies told me it’d been phased out for another option, and it was just usual post office overlap letting the “old” form still be valid when they wanted the “new” form. I asked if the new form was easier. The look in their eyes….
In January of this year, the Post Office changed their international (and other rates). And by changed, I mean jacked up beyond belief. A DVD box that cost me $9 to ship is now $15. Some of them are higher. or equivalent where they used to be $8. I used to have a flat shipping rate for “internationals” and let it eat into the price. Now it basically devours the price. And the form that the post office people warned me about is definitely up to its reputation, because I can’t use pre-printed labels anymore – I have to sit there and write on multiple copies (the pens don’t really go through worth a damn) and there’s much more to fill out.
I do not want to bore you with endless details about the research I did to show that it’s now intensely difficult to send all this out. I do not want your brilliant suggestion of how I can save money with all sorts of tricks and traps to sneak around it (media mail doesn’t work that way for this stuff, other services are just as onerous, and I’m not interested in working with ‘a guy’ in Europe). I’m telling you that it’s over – the problem isn’t that I can’t probably hack some solution together that makes it merely a time-sink and trap-filled – it’s that with all my duties at the Internet Archive and all my other projects, I just can’t devote hours to this packaging.
And it’s not like it’s the image of Good Ol’ Jason working on these documentaries in his spare time anymore. I get yelled at for not having tracking numbers, for it taking a week to get to people (or longer, as per the delay in doing internationals). People think of it as a business that’s just shipping out documentaries. Parts of my life are slipping because of this time sink. Something has to give.
What does this mean going forward?
First, again, no international orders. Those are leaving the order pages today.
Second, for the last year or something I’ve been predicting where things are going in the future for my next documentaries. The answer is going to be REALLY super deluxe packaging, like in the $100 range, that’s a physical product, or digital download/streaming. In other words, a push to the extreme ends, instead of a somewhat expensive nice package. People who want something in their hands will get it but it’ll be pretty costly, and most will not want that. The others will get digital copies, and those will be pretty low cost and available quite freely worldwide. I knew it was coming, and I’ll be refactoring my current films this summer to fit that new paradigm. And the new ones will have that regardless.
So there you go.
I expect to answer lots of e-mails going “WHY DO YOU NOT SHIP INTERNATIONAL” and “WHY CAN’T YOU SHIP TO CANADA AT LEAST” and so on. Hopefully this entry will be something I can point to.
Do I like this? No. Am I proud of it? No. But it’s reflection of where I am in my life right now – my inbox is FILLED, BURSTING with people asking me in the role I play at the Internet Archive and Archive Team to help them with projects and research, attend conferences, provide consulting, and save materials both physical and digital. That’s what needs me. Being The World’s Worst Amazon Seller is not the best use of me.
I’ve sold many thousands of these things. I’m sure I’ll sell a few more domestically and I’ll always endeavor to have some on my person at all times to be able to do transactions in person.
But it’s over. Internationals are done. Please forgive me.
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