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Postby Ray T. Stott » 01/26/09 06:50 PM

[size:14pt]$195.00 Per copy

[/size]
It's not about the magic; it's about the daily box office gross.
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Postby BlueEyed Videot » 01/30/09 11:47 PM

So I pre-order the book from the publisher at $275 ($25 off list price) and now come to find out if I had waited around I could have saved myself another $80. And this savings comes from a dealer, too. Makes me feel quite a bit bent over. This is what I get for not staying with Kaufman & Co. and Hermetic Press.

Well never again. (Not to mention I waited almost 6 mos. for delivery of the Annemann CDs from the same publisher.)

Makes me wonder, is Busby back from the near-dead?
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Postby NCMarsh » 01/31/09 12:20 AM

"The same publisher" also puts out some of the very best books on magic I have read.

You're upset because a third party later offers a discount? There's a whole thread of people railing against Paul Harris for setting the resale price of his new product, and now someone's upset at M.F. for not dictating final retail price.

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Postby Ray T. Stott » 01/31/09 01:00 AM

You're upset because a third party later offers a discount?


What would lead you to believe that my posting had anything to do with being upset?

I purchased a copy from these people (my only copy) and was merely pointing out the location of a good deal.

Upset? - You have a real difficulty reading for meaning and inserting your personal opinions into why or what I post.

Tend to your own knitting and put your jacket on and go to work doing some magic or something. :)
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Postby Travis » 01/31/09 01:37 AM

Why so bent out of shape, Ray?

It's painfully clear that Nathan was responding to Richard, not to you.
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Postby NCMarsh » 01/31/09 03:09 AM

Ray,

Travis is correct. The post was in response to Richard.

Execute a wife, it'll help you relax ;)

Best,

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Postby Todd Karr » 01/31/09 03:51 PM

Hi, everyone

This has been a very big lesson I won't forget.

I trusted a dealer not to discount my product and believed it when I was told it wouldn't be sold under retail.

This same scenario has apparently occured with others over the years, including the later phase when excuses were made to justify slashing prices and negative comments were made on suppliers' reputations, with all kinds of outlandish claims.

All of this is upsetting to our customers who paid our legitimate introductory price, dealers who want to sell copies at a reasonable rate, and anyone who stands for decency and fairness in the magic world and most importantly support the artistic creators and manufacturers in our business.

I understand the benefit of looking for bargains, especially in this economy, but once these dealer copies of Shakespeare run out, no dealers will be resupplied and the price will be strictly $300 again from our site only so this won't reoccur.

Here's where I stand now.

1. Undoubtedly forum readers may doubt this, but this will NOT happen again. I will never, ever again sell to someone with a bad rep for price gouging.

2. Anyone who feels they got a raw deal after ordering any product from me should write me at toddkarr@aol.com.

3. Our products are often late, but always great. We offer a full refund at any point if we're taking too long. AND as our customers know, when our Annemann and Carlyle CDs were tardy, we offered large credits to everyone who pre-ordered.

4. I've been pleased to see that most dealers have opted to keep the price in the $275-$300 range, despite the price-gouging.

The main point: support your originators and avoid the discounters.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 01/31/09 04:19 PM

I thought "price-gouging" meant charging too much (a bad thing) not charging too little (which most consumers like).
Here's the Wikipedia definition:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price_gouging
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Postby Kamal » 01/31/09 04:34 PM

Murphy's distributes the Shakespeare book, along with a couple of other Miracle Factory products. Are you also saying that, from this point forward, none of your books will be distributed by Murphy's or any other wholesaler (once current stock runs out)?
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/31/09 04:53 PM

Nathan, the correct ;) jibe at our dear Henry VIII is "go have a son - or if you're still unable...". But unless you're truly angry and sure you're safe probably better to not write that last part and leave it implied.

Todd - what sort of agreements can one make on the wholesale and distribution level?
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Postby The Magic Apple » 01/31/09 06:10 PM

this is an ongoing battle with internet shops, d*****-bags selling magic out of their garage and ebay. I hope that the Paul Harris True Astonishments it going to set an example with the price policy that has been set $300 - no further discounts on THAT product.

That being said I have a SHAKESPEARE EXPERIMENT for $450...anyone want to buy it
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Postby David Alexander » 01/31/09 06:32 PM

Who sells at list price?

The entire retail world runs on "sales," either occasional or continuous. If one is to believe the ads, window blinds are NEVER sold at full retail, but always at 40% to 60% off. Clothes, shoes, electronic goodies, everything is sold at discounts and sales. What makes magic books so special?

Has anyone on this Forum EVER bought an automobile at full manufacturers suggested retail price? I seriously doubt it. If you have, please identify yourself because I have a nice bridge in Brooklyn I want to sell you.

Manufacturers may set a suggested retail price and actually sell the product directly for that, but once a jobber distributes the goods to retailers, it is the retailers who decide what sort of profit margin they want to make and sell accordingly.

Last time I looked this was capitalism and the free enterprise system. If Todd or any manufacturer wants to fully control his retail prices his recourse is to sell directly and never wholesale.

And, if I remember correctly, in California, as a business, you may not have a choice about who you sell to if they don't have credit problems. Presumably, someone could walk into Murphy's with a wad of cash, buy their entire supply of a given item, and advertise it for $10 over wholesale and be completely legal.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/31/09 08:02 PM

There is stuff going on between the publisher, Todd Karr, and Paul Gross at Hocus Pocus that is not public, and that's what the huge price drop is about.
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 01/31/09 08:10 PM

NCMarsh wrote:Ray,

Travis is correct. The post was in response to Richard.

Execute a wife, it'll help you relax ;)

Best,

N.


You have my sincerest apologies, sir.
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Postby Todd Karr » 01/31/09 08:59 PM

Richard, the only "stuff" is that Paul, whatever the justification he proposes, is hugely discounting my item and I'm not happy about it.

Dick Hatch: Sorry if I misused the phrase "price gouging." I suppose "undercutting" or "price slashing" are other phrases to use. Incidentally, H&R and Denny are two companies that have consistently maintained proper pricing on all our products.

On the topic of savings, of course it's ok to bargain shop. I didn't approve $100 off, but I don't fault anyone for buying at that price in this economy.
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Postby the Larry » 02/01/09 07:02 AM

Here some business lessons for Mr. Karr. Forgive me for sharing them but I am old and like to help the kids.

1) As David Alexander pointed out above, the retailer sets his own prices. If you are not happy with that then make sure you are not supplying that retailer directly or indirectly via a distributor. (In some localities however this may be against the law.)

Trying to influence retail prices is a monopolistic behavior of the worst kind in my humble opinion. Either you don't understand the retail business or you simply want to hype and sell a product above its value. Both no good. As a consumer this is a sign for me to stay far far away from your products.

2) Following your repeated ads and emails on the Shakespeare book test it is clear to anybody but the senile that you are hyping something just a bit too hard. Translation: It ain't worth $300 (for most mentalists). I think you damaged your sales by your very pushy ads more than any retailer dumping could.

3) Your CDs are really bad from a quality point of view. I am not sure what you are trying to achieve with them. You are undermining your reputation. I am not that much into e-books but it is clear that I would never buy an e-book from you again. My recommendation for you is to stick to books where you have released some of note.

4) You are sending out way too many emails, your are advertising way too often on this forum. If Kaufman would have a bit more business sense he would rain you in because it ain't good for a forum to get all these hyping ads.

Hope this was not too lecturing, but after 50 years of a successful business career I feel like giving back.
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Postby Todd Karr » 02/01/09 11:59 AM

Hi, Larry.

Everyone's entitled to their opinion, and I appreciate your words.

You're right about not supplying retailers or distributors in order to control the price of a product. I'm not sure how it's bad business, however, to stand up for your product when someone's not honoring the terms of his contract.

As for the quality of our products, anyone - including you - who's unhappy for any reason has always been welcome to return anything to us for a full, immediate refund. If you want to contact me at toddkarr@aol.com, I'll be glad to refund anything you've purchased from us.

If you don't like our emails, you should unsubscribe with the link at the bottom of each of our mailings.

After being in the business world for 50 successful years, you understand that promotion is key and that I have to let people know about our creations in order to sell them. Our ads aren't hard sell, just filled with facts about the quality of our products and quote after quote from happy customers, not "hype." And we have, in fact, sold more Shakespeare Experiments - retail only, not wholesale - faster than any other product we've published, so a lot of people don't agree with you, and they'd probably object to being called "senile" because of their purchase.

What's bad business is to not deliver on your promises. Take a look at the rave reviews on our site to see how we give our customers more than a value for their money. But unless I'm mistaken, it doesn't sound like you've actually seen or purchased our Shakespeare Experiment.

While you're not really into ebooks, there are lots of people who love them. I put a lot of care into our CDs of PDFs, which are superb research tools, allow magicians to access a huge amount of material for a reasonably low cost, and permit me to preserve and celebrate lesser known performers where a book would be cost-prohibitive.
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Postby Mark Collier » 02/01/09 03:01 PM

I'd like to know when Martin Gardner's Impromptu limited edition will ship. I paid $300 for it. On April 25th, 2007.
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Postby Todd Karr » 02/01/09 03:39 PM

Hi, Mark. Like I said, we're sometimes late and always offer a refund or exchange if you don't want to wait. Most of our Gardner purchasers understand the book's underway for this year and will be worth the wait. Many others have paid $350 since we raised the price since there are only a few left. If you're tired of waiting, please write me at toddkarr@aol.com and you can either have credit or a cheerful refund.
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Postby Mark Collier » 02/01/09 04:49 PM

Hi Todd,
I was just asking for an update. I asked you in a private email but didn't get a response.

I find your books to be top quality and don't mind waiting but we're coming up on two years now and I would find it reassuring to get an occasional email that says 'sorry for the delay' or 'thank you for your patience' or anything that lets me know the project is still in the works and those of us that sent our prepayment have not been forgotten.

I'm confident that the book will be excellent and I would rather wait for a great book than have you rush to put out an inferior product. I'd just like to get a progress report every 6 months or so.

Thanks.
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Postby Todd Karr » 02/01/09 05:10 PM

Mark, I don't check my private messages on chat rooms, which is why I asked everyone to write me at toddkarr@aol.com. I barely can keep up with my one email box! Anyhow, thanks for writing back. I do apologize for not providing more regular updates and promise to do better in the future....no problem at all.

I appreciate your patience and your confidence in the book, which is turning out superbly despite taking so long to complete. This year we're working on completing Gardner and Gaetan Bloom's opus Full Bloom, as well as some other surprises.
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Postby Mike McErlain » 02/01/09 06:04 PM

Hi Folks,
Just my 2 cents...
There's been debate over retailers discounting a product against the wishes of the manufacturer. Many have provided arguements on both sides.
This exists in many other industries. For example, here in Canada, authorized resellers for Sony electronics are not allowed to discount current model-year products. If they do so, they risk losing the ability to sell the product line altogether.
I see this situation as the same. If Mr. Karr states one of his products should be sold at a specific price (no discounts) then I would think he has the right to impose that requirment on any retailer. Several other on-line magic retailers seem to subscribe and respect this concept. Take note that many sale ads will qualify that certain "product lines" do not apply to the sale due to "contractual agreements with the manufacturer."
Same principal here, as I see it.
Best to all,
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Postby Todd Karr » 02/01/09 07:25 PM

Mike: Agreed.

The current situation with Shakespeare is a pretty good example of how steep discounting can hurt everyone if it's not overseen.

I spend months or even years crafting an item. To pay for all the expenses of printing, production, advertising, royalties, etc., I need to have a certain amount of sales. In the past, that has included retail sales (discounted for prepublication or full price), dealer sales at wholesale price, and distributor sales at jobber rate.

If everyone stays at retail or even a bit below, that's pretty much an even playing field and everyone gets to sell a little and make some profit. But if someone slashes the price, here's the effect, at least from my point of view:

Dealers and distributors: The dealers end up having trouble moving their copies because they can't compete with the discounter's price. They complain to the manufacturer and think twice about buying from the manufacturer again. Dealers also have to handle customers who want them to match the discounter's low price, putting the dealer in a position of losing business or losing profit. The dealers, especially our beloved brick and mortar shops, have little room to maneuver because of their higher overhead compared to online sales outlets.

Customers: The customers who paid full price get upset at the manufacturer because they paid more than others are paying, and as mentioned above, often ask the dealer for a discount. The customer ends up confused as well about loyalty to his favorite creator or dealer vs. saving money. The consumer also, I will add, often ends up accepting lesser customer service as a trade-off for savings.

Manufacturers: The creator in this scenario has to compete with his own product. His sales dwindle because others have discounted the item so deeply. His customers are upset at the higher prices elsewhere, so the company's reputation is tarnished, making it even more difficult to stay in business. The other aspect is that customers now will expect the product to be discounted elsewhere later, so they do not purchase new items at full or even introductory prices from the manufacturer. In addition, dealers and distibutors now hesitate to buy his products for fear of unfair price competition.

The outcome of this is usually that the manufacturer, inventor, and creator has to limit his output, cut costs, and raise prices in order to stay in business and make even a small profit.

The consumer suffers because they have fewer original items to choose from and less of a possibility of saving even a small amount of money off the retail price.

There is also, I would say, a self-censoring chilling effect where the distributors and dealers only want to buy sure-fire products that have been proven sellers in the past, rather than taking a chance on new, original products, so the creators end up producing more of the same standard-type items that have already flooded the market.

So getting to the issue of controlling retail price: it is, to my knowledge, legal, and in this environment is a very good idea.
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Postby Kamal » 02/01/09 08:15 PM

Todd,

very quickly - does this mean you will no longer supply Murphys with any of your products?

Thanks.
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 02/01/09 08:20 PM

Kamal wrote:Todd,

very quickly - does this mean you will no longer supply Murphys with any of your products?

Thanks.


hahaha!
:D :D :D
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Postby Todd Karr » 02/02/09 12:23 AM

I won't be dealing with the current guys engaging in deep discounting, and the integrity of Murphy's and Fun Inc. is not in question in the current situation with Shakespeare. I have to say in honesty that Murphy's and Fun have been very good about urging their dealers to keep The Shakespeare Experiment at a fairly reasonable price. But due to the price discounting by other parties, I won't do ANY further wholesaling of Shakespeare, to Murphy's or elsewhere, after the current copies run out.

I don't have anything against Murphy's. As in any business relationship, we've had many ups and downs but on the whole our dealings have been productive over almost ten years. Sometimes their dealers have discounted my products too low, but in almost every case, they've contacted the dealer quickly and in some cases cut them off from further supplies of my products.

What I can promise is this: 1. I will be leaning toward more retail sales to maintain proper pricing on my items. 2. When I do wholesale, I will work with dealers who can agree to maintain the retail price or close to it. 3. I will clearly let customers know if an item will "never be discounted" and stick to that guarantee.

For example, our next book test, The Secret Lexicon, will not be sold to dealers or wholesalers and will be available only through The Miracle Factory.
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Postby Dave Klaiber » 02/02/09 08:07 AM

Looks like more are getting on the bandwagon.

Another Fire Sale..........

http://www.shopmagicvault.com/The-Shake ... =mailid:22
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Postby Todd Karr » 02/02/09 01:00 PM

Oy. I'm on it. I've contacted the distributors and they're taking action asap.
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Postby Todd Karr » 02/03/09 06:28 PM

I have contacted two companies that were steeply discounting and they both said they were not going to do any further sales at those prices, out of courtesy to The Miracle Factory and the rest of the magic world. Their discounts are comparable to our introductory price of $275, and while lower than our retail, still in the realm of acceptable discounting. These are good people who have a conscience and you should reward their ethics with your business: John Sterlini of Sterlini Magic, and Mark Reed of Magic Vault.
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 02/03/09 07:32 PM

Price competition is one of the great engines of Capitalism.
Retail price maintenance is a dagger in the heart of that great engine.

Entrepreneur's efforts to tamper with advertised prices only serve to show the high mark-up in their items.


As a Capitalist myself, I have absolutely nothing against a long gross margin, but by making your "arm twisting" to make dealers come to heel public, you have given potential buyers a good look behind the curtain of your pricing model.

This will very likely have a chilling effect on present and future releases and will sure as hell impact the sale of the title under discussion.

Intelligent buyers realize the presence of a profit in the products and services that they purchase.

Intelligent and reasonable buyers realize the necessity to make make a profit and do not begrudge it being incorporated into their purchase because, in reality they have little or no knowledge of its size in terms of dollars or percentages and just think of it as "fair" if they even think of it at all.

Of course there are buyers of any genre that will take a jaundiced view of being made aware that they are paying double or triple keystone mark-ups on the items that they desire.

And yes, I am fully aware of the myriads of businesses and industries that employ this type of mark-up and higher.

Buyers who are not knowledgeable in, or even care about, the economics of niche marketing and regard this as, in the contemporary vernacular, being ripped off (I despise the term but it does seem to be a pervading one), and give them pause when considering their next purchase(s).

Your efforts should have been carried out privately without making members of your principal market aware of the spread between publisher's two and three step distribution chain discounted pricing and retail.

As stated earlier, I have absolutely no problem with what you did and why you did it. But, like the making of sausage and laws, it's something that a great many individuals really do not care to watch. :)

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/03/09 09:50 PM

Mr. Stott, we live and work in a very small niche market. Making money is difficult. Discounting by retailers makes it more difficult for the manufacturers.

The markup from cost to retail price isn't making anyone in our industry rich unless they are having items manufactured in China. We are not. We are paying US prices to print our books and press our CDs and DVDs. The market prices simply serve to allow us to pay our bills until we put out the next product. Anyone who thinks Todd Karr, Stephen Minch, or myself are getting rich from publishing magic books or CD-roms or whatever, would be in for quite a surprise. None of us are getting rich from this. We just manage to pay our bills and keep going!
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Postby Jeff Eline » 02/03/09 10:04 PM

Ray T. Stott wrote:As a Capitalist myself, I have absolutely nothing against a long gross margin, but by making your "arm twisting" to make dealers come to heel public, you have given potential buyers a good look behind the curtain of your pricing model.

From my reading of the issue in this thread, this seems to be a bit of a mischaracterization of the facts, even if it's boldly written. How do Capitalists feel about honoring agreements?
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Postby Ruben Padilla » 02/03/09 11:51 PM

Class Act, Todd...
Visit www.MagiciansOnly.com for exclusive book, trick, DVD, & convention reviews!
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 02/04/09 12:14 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Mr. Stott, we live and work in a very small niche market. Making money is difficult. Discounting by retailers makes it more difficult for the manufacturers.

The markup from cost to retail price isn't making anyone in our industry rich unless they are having items manufactured in China. We are not. We are paying US prices to print our books and press our CDs and DVDs. The market prices simply serve to allow us to pay our bills until we put out the next product. Anyone who thinks Todd Karr, Stephen Minch, or myself are getting rich from publishing magic books or CD-roms or whatever, would be in for quite a surprise. None of us are getting rich from this. We just manage to pay our bills and keep going!


RK,
If you will reread my posting I stated many times that I had no problem with any of this.

The illegality of advertised price maintenance as addressed in the U.S.C. anti-trust laws was overturned in a 2007 Supreme Court decision.

I attempted, but evidently failed, to point that out in the thread about establishing a $300.00 minimum advertised price by Murphy's in re. the multiple CD or DVD set that is ready for release.

Nowhere did I state that making a long gross was immoral, amoral. or illegal.

I specifically referred to the economics peculiar to niche industries.

You cannot point to a word in that posting that even hinted at one becoming rich in anything much less a niche enterprise.

No need to go into porcupine mode on a simple statement of the facts.

Like it or not, laissez-faire pricing is a great engine of Capitalism.

You should have mastered that truism that in Econ 101.

As to publishing you need to determine whether you are fish or fowl as an entrepreneur.

When you sell your books to a wholesaler or dealer, unless you can exhibit a signed contract to the contrary, you relinquish title and control of same, with the exception of IP protection rights, and the new owner is free to sell them at any price he/she desires, give them away or burn them in a bonfire at an S.A.M. convention. Fire laws permitting, of course.

Your profits on these discounted sales have already been made. If you consider your profit to be insufficient either reduce your wholesale discounts, raise your suggested selling prices or get out of wholesale.

If you wish to retail your books then retail them.

If you wish to wholesale your books then wholesale them.

If you wish to do both then get the distributors and dealers to sign on the dotted line of a minimum advertised pricing agreement or leave them alone.

This type of arrangement would memorialize the publisher's, distributor's and retailer's rights and obligations.

Distributors and retailers could then weigh the relative benefits and drawbacks of such an arrangement and either accept or reject the products and the policies associated with them.

Attempting to control prices through moral suasion hasn't worked since the 60's when J.F.K. used it on the American steel industry to not increase their prices. - Increase is the operative word in this statement.

The only ox that is being gored by price competition is the ox of wanting the best of all possible economic worlds (Voltaire)for one's self which is strictly a pecuniary driven goal.

If you wish to increase market share or maximize profits, crush the competition, not your chain of distribution.

And to shortstop any effort to make these statements appear to conflict or contradict my posting on the Walton octopus, I clearly indicated that it was my personal opinion to which I was entitled.

This reply and my posting in this matter is based upon a fairly extensive education and many years in the trenches of commerce as well as serving, and when called upon, defending the rights of my corporate and individual clients.

The point that I attempted to make was this conflict resolution would have better been done in private.
:)
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Postby Richard Hatch » 02/04/09 12:46 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Discounting by retailers makes it more difficult for the manufacturers.

Discounting by manufacturers makes it more difficult for the retailers. I don't think H & R has sold a Kaufman & Co. book since early December...
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 02/04/09 12:48 AM

From my reading of the issue in this thread, this seems to be a bit of a mischaracterization of the facts, even if it's boldly written. How do Capitalists feel about honoring agreements?


Honest Capitalists honor their agreements as do honest Socialists and Communists.

And if they do not then the injured party may seek relief at law for monetary damages or to compel specific performance.

There are no contracts in play in this case and if one chooses to rely on some type of gentleman's agreement then it is done at one's own peril.

In that this is a magic forum I will have to say that there is a level of larceny, dishonesty, and double dealing in this "niche" endeavor than even a statistical aberration can explain.

Eventually all ethical creative members of the community will go blind watching everyone else.

I am flabbergasted at the lying, misrepresentation and cheating that goes on in the little corner of conjuring.

I also must say that I have done business with quite a few people whose word is indeed their bond that I trust implicitly.

There are others that I would not trust in an outhouse with the seat nailed down.

All of the above in bold type.
;)
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Ray T. Stott
 
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 02/04/09 12:55 AM

Richard Hatch wrote:
Richard Kaufman wrote:Discounting by retailers makes it more difficult for the manufacturers.

Discounting by manufacturers makes it more difficult for the retailers. I don't think H & R has sold a Kaufman & Co. book since early December...


The other side of the coin speaketh.
It's not about the magic; it's about the daily box office gross.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/04/09 01:39 AM

Extraordinary economic times call for drastic measures, and that's why my books are on sale now. Simple. I need the money to pay bills so, among other things, I can continue to write more books and finish the books I've been writing for years.

The unfortunate economic reality of this moment in time is that if you don't discount, your product doesn't move. There's no argument about that. In my case I've got lots of books in a warehouse and they need to get sold.

As economic times improve, the amount of discounting will decrease. That's only natural in a capitalistic economy: sellers will charge as much as the market can bear. When people have more money again, they will be able to, and will be willing to, pay more for our products.
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Richard Kaufman
 
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Postby Richard Hatch » 02/04/09 01:54 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:The unfortunate economic reality of this moment in time is that if you don't discount, your product doesn't move. There's no argument about that.

Paul Harris might argue otherwise.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/04/09 02:09 AM

I'm not Paul Harris and neither are you. :)
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