ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

A Fall in Price —

So, the BBS Documentary went from $50 a set to $40.

I’ve been considering this for a little while. Since I’ve never really done all this before, I don’t really know the audience and the choices people make to purchase or not purchase.

The economic term is “Price Elasticity of demand” (my dad taught me that), which basically means that a variable price actually moves along a bell curve, going from a price where few will buy/can afford it, to where everyone can afford it/doesn’t want it because it seems cheap and tawdry. But in the center, in this magical zone, your price is good and people buy a lot. It’s interesting. People better than I have gone to a cocaine-fueled end over these sorts of things. (I won’t.)

It’s not that they’re not selling, they are. It’s not that I don’t think they’re worth $50, they are. It’s just that I can see that some people are waffling on the price, and if this gets the package and the DVDs into more hands, that was kind of the whole point of the project: get it out there.

I don’t think we’ll be seeing any other price reductions any time soon, so don’t be trying the waiting game on me, buddy.

Anyway, it’s an interesting experiment, even if a potentially costly one. We’ll see where it goes.

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  1. Tim says:

    Is Amazon’s pricing connected somehow to yours?

  2. Jason Scott says:

    Yes. I have to mail them to request they lower the price, and I’m allowed to do it twice a year.

  3. Mungojelly says:

    People are irrational about prices. They’ll spend $50 eating out at a restaurant without really contemplating it first, but $50 for the BBS documentary seems out of line with the big studio driven standard, so they can’t even bring themselves to actually consider whether it’s worth the cost.

    I bet you’ll sell a lot more at $40. In fact, I bet you’d probably sell even more than that at $39.95.


  4. Jason Scott says:

    Yes, I was advised to go for a *9.99 type of price. I just can’t bring myself to do it. It just feels so incredibly skanky and dumb, even though, in point of fact, it has a proud and long tradition.

    So I’ll stick with $40. Two twenties, what could be easier. Except it’s online, so it doesn’t feel as cool. But we do our best.

  5. Darren B. says:

    This is a little disappointing to me since i’m out of work and took a lot to get $50 american together here, only to see it drop now. But so goes life. After my experience with it, I do feel like a lot went into the presentation of this, which I could see as a plus to get it sold of retail outlets. but for internet sales, i believe maybe a lot of expense could of been saved by making a more simple form of packaging. i have no idea though since i never did what you’ve done. i just felt like i paid more for the presentation than the content when i was done watching it for some reason. I don’t mean this as an attack though. Just my honest opinion. Thanks again for putting this DVD set together.

  6. Jason Scott says:

    Rest assured, Darren, your concern and reaction is one that was definitely on my mind when I lowered this price. I never wanted anyone to feel mistreated or used or otherwise that they didn’t get what they paid for when they bought the documentary set.

    However, see it from my perspective; the documentary cost me tens of thousands of dollars to produce, a significant amount of my yearly salary, and the risk of it caving was great, and with it a lot of my freedoms, as I’d be locked into debt for the forseeable future. It was definitely a risk. Now that the risk is alleviated, I can comfortably lower the price and bit and continue to sell out the rest of my inventory. Without those initial purchases, I would have never been able to see my investment come back.

    I made the documentary creative commons partially to avoid the situation you’re describing, where people were actually sacrificing their incomes to look at the work. People who lack the means or funds to comfortably purchase the DVD download it on a daily basis.

    But on the other hand, part of what one pays for when they buy a product like this is the convenience, the packaging, the actual tactile experience. You just can’t get that online, not in the same way. Giving them a crap-o DVD in a blank amray case with a color photocopied label seems wrong.

    If you want to discuss a refund, I have a pretty good return policy; mail me and we can talk.

  7. Darren B. says:

    In reply to Jason Scott, from Darren…

    Thank you for your reply and refund offer. Everything is just so tight these days since I got ill a couple years ago and had to leave my job, so it’s more a personal case than a general rule. I’m always selling off things on ebay to get buy, rather than enjoying the luxury to buy things I like. So I end up being overly sensitive to buying things and their cost. I’m more upset with my situation than the purchase. So no worries.

    I agree that you owe it to the people you interviewed to make the set look presentable also. So no foul there. I’m sure I’ll watch it again, and again in time. I’ll be sure to share it with others since people in our 2600 group here have been wanting to see it, and we hope to have a group showing of parts of it from time to time.

    So I don’t mean to be discouraging. Since I heard about this, I always wanted it so much. I’m 37 and have a lot of fond memories of the old days of BBSs. Mostly the very early days. If I was working and money wasn’t so tight, then nothing would be making me feel uneasy. I hope you will go on to make many more documentaries in time. This was a very good effort indeed.

    Thank you.